Robb, William George (1872-1940) by Scholes, Robert

William George Robb (1872 – 1940) He was born at Ilfracombe, on the coast of Devonshire. He studied at the Aberdeen Art School and in Paris under Bouguereau and Aman Jean. He specialized in landscapes. In 1919 Ezra Pound, writing as B. H. Dias wrote several interesting paragraphs about him, which we quote here in full: “But the gallery has scored in the Robb exhibit, perhaps the most interesting work they have shown since their Persian miniatures. The show is burdened, like many other shows, with a preface written in bilge of the purest water by Maj. Haldane Macfall : “ Uttering the moods of nature, etc.,” “cast upon his senses as Wordsworth aforetime sang such moods in verse,” etc. Now, it is to Mr. Robb’s credit that he obviously paints to please himself. He appears to be of a single mood (about as much like Wordsworth as Diane de Poitiers may be said to be like Jane Austen). His “world” is unvexed by Bernard Shaw, by Marinetti, by any art-thought since Conder. I don’t imagine he would be different if Conder had never existed. He goes in for delicate feminine robes, delicate half-lights, mists, gallantries. (All these things being, M. Macfall, the very gist and essence of Wordsworth?) ” His (Robb’s) nature is decked with artifice and with silks and satins, tone Watteau-Fragonard, with general Corot-Conder sort of formula for the arrangements, technique, soft, faint colours with bright dashes of blue and orange. There are no cubes and no vortices, but there is a perfect veracity to his own intention, and his technique is in his own control; here we find a background in thin paint almost as simply .applied as the flames in the background of Velasquez “ Don Juan de Austra ” ; in 31, trees flaked in a manner that might have been assimilated from Perugino. These “influences” are applied in the right way, and Robb has learned his traditional metier as traditional metiers should be learned.. ” We would mention particularly Nos. 3. 32; 13 for its fall of sunlight ; the bright centre and pseudo-classic pavillions well arranged in 15; the blue skirt in 19, 31, 32 in which last the small delicate figures are done with pleasant suavity. No. 16 is, perhaps, earlier work; the rainbows and the oval are less convincing, the tall trees picture less convincing. On the whole the work is of “the summer of the mind,” galan, airoso. No, 30 also has its merits, and 5 also; 8 is rougher. Almost any of the pictures would have a permanent charm in a boudoir or drawing-room”. . (NA 24.24:412)

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