When still in his teens, Richard created the sweep of Chesil Beach as viewed from an elevated position and in the mid 30s he painted Whitby from high above the sea. This useful tipping up of the earth’s surface served him well in the War (e.g. Air Fight over Portland) when he developed his uncanny ability to visualise a scene from an altered perspective. It serves to distribute detail more evenly and ‘democratises' the subject matter so it has equal weight, unlike the more usual perspective at ground level where near and far objects are very different sizes.
Richard had never been in an aircraft but this airborne view feels true to life. The Needles on the west end of the Isle of Wight are visible so the event is near to his home in the New Forest. The delicacy of the detail belies the savagery of the attack.
This is a wonderful feat of the imagination. It is extraordinary how many people and boats are out in such rough weather. The impasto of the paint on the waves contrasts with the most delicate of thinly painted lines.
This is where Richard took the dog for a walk every day. But back in the studio he has made the terrain more hilly and gained more height to the perspective. [PB]