Bottle and Feather

Bottle and Feather



MAXWELL ARMFIELD, R.W.S. (1882-1972)

Bottle and Feather

Signed with monogram and numbered OP/595; bears title on a label attached to the backboard Tempera on board The picture is accompanied by the James Powell for Whitefriars square claret jug.

23 by 12.5 cm., 9 by 5 in. (frame size 29.5 by 19 cm.; 11 by 7 in.)

Provenance: The Fine Art Society, London, 1971.

Armfield’s carefully studied still life shows a white feather in standing in a James Powell square claret jug. Powell designed these distinctive Romanesque style claret jugs and decanters for Whitefriars of London in c.1908. It came in a variety of colours. The picture is accompanied by a similar decanter, with stopper, and a white swan’s feather. Armfield was a Quaker to whom the white feather was a symbol of peace. Maxwell Ashby Armfield was born at Ringwood, Hampshire, of Quaker parents, his father being a milling engineer. He studied at the Birmingham School of Art under Arthur Gaskin and Joseph Southall who taught him the tempera technique he was to practice for the rest of his life. In September 1902, after visiting Italy at the suggestion of Gaskin, he went to Paris, enrolling at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and sharing a studio with three other students ”“ Norman Wilkinson (also from Birmingham), Keith Henderson and the sculptor Gaston Lachaise. Returning to London the following year, he embarked on the series of one-man exhibitions that were henceforth to mark his career, showing first at Robert Ross’s Carfax Gallery (1908, 1912) and subsequently at the Leicester Galleries and elsewhere, as well as contributing regularly to the RA, NEAC and RWS. In 1909 he married the writing Constance Smedley, with whom he was to work closely until her death in 1941. In 1915 they left for an intensely active and successful seven-year spell in America. Armfield was not only a painter but a prolific illustrator and versatile decorative artist, while being deeply involved in theatre, music, teaching and journalism and writing some twenty books, including poetry, accounts of his foreign travels and such textbooks as the much-acclaimed
Manual of Tempera Painting (1930). He was also a tireless researcher in occult religions and passionately interested in the formal and philosophical basis of art.


Height 23 cm / 9 "
Width 12.5 cm / 5"
Framed height 29.5 cm / 11 "
Framed width 19 cm / 7 "