Trees as a stand-alone subject occupied Richard’s mind when still a teenager. As he developed he was influenced by Cotman and Cézanne, and trees more often became part of a larger landscape. In his later years he was fascinated by the New Forest on his doorstep and the garden where the small trees had by now had time to grow enormous. He cursed them for creating a green shade to his studio light but loved them nevertheless.
This watercolour was painted by Richard when he travelled to Germany to see relations with his father and elder sister. By now, his parents had come to accept that Richard wanted to become an artist and although they had misgivings they were supportive. He recounts in his diary how his father held his umbrella (that he used for his hobby of catching beetles) over Richard as he painted, to shelter him from a sudden shower.
Here trees account for only a quarter of the picture surface but they mass together in that wonderful heaviness of mid-summer to create an area of depth of shade. There are lovely details here too like the patient dog sitting near his master but looking wistfully at the dog having a bit of a game with its owner.
It is interesting that most of the pictures about trees and woods were painted in the last decade of Richard’s life. This is partly because of a lack of mobility and a concentration on what was near at hand. He continued to take the dog for walks on the Forest and he took more interest in the trees in his own back garden.This beautiful and subtle picture shows in the handling of paint and tone the experience of a life-time of painting!