Howard Ashton (1877-1964)
oil on board
37.5 x 33 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1938
Born 1877, London England. Died 1964, NSW.
(Julian) Howard Ashton was the eldest son of the “old man of Australian art” Julian Rossi Ashton, in whose art school he studied. Although born in England, he emigrated with his parents to Australia the year after he was born. He became a prolific journalist and critic of literature, music and art, as well as a feature writer, illustrator and artist. He was a keen entomologist, who donated his collection of cicadas to the Australian Museum.
This work titled Dusk shows a sparsely-wooded rocky slope during the fading light of dusk. The pink highlights on the tops of the clouds draw the eye up to the sky, which fills two thirds of the picture. The visible brushstrokes give texture to the largely mono-tonal wind-swept landscape. This small painting may have been purchased by Howard Hinton at the 1938 'Three Generations of Painters' exhibition held at Farmers' Blaxland Gallery, in which Howard Ashton exhibited 36 works, alongside those of his father Julian, and of his son Richard Ashton. It was in this year that Howard Ashton won the Commonwealth Art Prize for Best Landscape in Oil for his painting 'Monaro Morning'.
Hinton described him as a realist painter of strong landscapes, and donated a total of seven of his works to Armidale. In his newspaper columns, Ashton strongly voiced his criticism of art which departed from factual representation, even resigning from the Society of Artists in 1934 when the “modernist” Roland Wakelin was elected. He joined the more conservative Royal Art Society of NSW in 1939, holding office as its president from 1942-45. He won the prestigious Wynne Prize for landscapes in 1898 and 1942.