The Lure of the Land

The Channel Islands have always been a popular venue for artists, particularly landscape artists. During the Victorian era the development of the railways and fast steamship links to the mainland made the journey to the Island quick and convenient and the Channel Islands really took off as a destination. Visiting artists found ideal subject matter in the island’s coastal fortifications, its rugged coastline and lush interior.

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It was local artist John Le Capelain (1812-1848) who made the most significant contribution to landscape painting in the watercolour media. Le Capelain had no formal art training but his style was fashionable for the period and was part of the Romantic movement which reached its peak in Britain in the 1830’s. Watercolour is highly suited to capturing the nuances of light and Le Capelain delighted in atmospheric effects which suggested the mystery of nature. Le Capelain was an educated man with a good circle of influential friends, but was frustrated by the need for patronage and lack of recognition outside Jersey. He decided to travel, and visited England, Scotland, Wales and France where his reputation grew to an extent that he found a ready market for his watercolours and his scenes were often published as prints.