Twelve of the Best

Assembly House, Norwich

On loan from an anonymous local collector, this exhibition of watercolours and drawings demonstrates the strong regional style of the Norwich School of Painters (1803-1833).

John Thirtle's'Devils Tower and Carrow Bridge, Norwich typifies the stylised idyll, a romanticised river scene depicting gentry enjoying a leisurely outing. The wherry masts provide strong linearity against a centrally diffused haze of light in the contrived composition.

The most striking work is Yarmouth Shore Scene, attributed to the Joy brothers. It's strong and simple, the paint built up with careful daubs of colour. A Dutch gabled cottage merges with the sand to create a bold central yellow triangle, against an unblemished blue sky. The flag of St George flying proudly from a ship's mast punctuates the painting with British patriotism.

Framlingham Castle by John Joseph Cotman drew my admiration for the free, loose style in which it was worked. The landscape and castle walls are alight with fiery tones of an intense sunset. And the visible pencil lines suggest he worked quickly outdoors to capture the fleeting beauty of the moment.

The device of introducing a daub of intense indigo to the centre middleground draws the viewer into the composition and serves to underline the pale orb of the sun.

Windmill in Moonlight by Henry Bright accentuates the varying shades of darkness.

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The windmill stands monumental on the bank mirroring the cathedral across the water, whilst brilliant green and white chalked dashes trace the path of the moonbeams against the inky water.

For added interest, there's a competition to win a bottle of bubbly for correctly identifying the setting of the rogue 13th painting.

t The exhibition at the Assembly House, Norwich, runs until August 28.

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