The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Friday, January 15, 2021

Gosport Gallery opens exhibition of works by Martin Snape
Martin Snape, Waterfront and Harbour Row, Gosport, Hampshire, c1900. © Hampshire Cultural Trust.

GOSPORT .- Martin Snape (1852 – 1930) is one of Gosport’s most celebrated artists. An accomplished painter with a keen interest in the flora and fauna of Hampshire, Snape’s deep and abiding love of the area in which he lived and worked is evident in his sensitive depictions of the town, the harbour front and surrounding landscapes.

Following in the tradition of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner, Snape was Hampshire’s ‘Master of Light.’

Martin Snape: An Artist’s View of Gosport at Gosport Gallery, which is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, reveals the artist’s love of the landscape in and around Gosport. It features more than 40 works, many of which have not been on public display before.

Snape, one of six children, was born in Spring Cottage, Gosport on 31 December 1852. His father, Alfred, was an art master at Gosport’s Burney’s Academy, which his son attended. His career started through his botanical interests and interest in flora and fauna, with his early work focusing on birds, animals and habitats of the region which he travelled via the expanding rail network. His later work was focused on the towns and harbour fronts of Gosport and Portsmouth. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1901.

Snape adroitly used his local knowledge and skills as a fine observer of the countryside to forge a deserved status as an authority on Hampshire fieldcraft and folklore. He maintained a long-lasting friendship with Edward Prideaux-Brune, the popular rector of Rowner Church, and the two corresponded almost daily, sharing an enthusiastic interest in the flora and fauna of Hampshire. Indeed, Snape is buried in the churchyard at Rowner.

In 1922, he was commissioned to design the seal for the newly-created Borough of Gosport - the original design is still used by the town’s football club.

This exhibition focuses on previously unseen artworks on paper from the collections cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust. The works selected demonstrate Snape’s working practices; his adept skill in the use of varied media, a mastery of light and colour to evoke mood and the industrious nature of his craft.

Snape's friend Frederick Davison, who also drew the only known portrait of the artist, observed: "Martin Snape's recording of the ever changing scene in and around Portsmouth Harbour from sunrise to sunset, at low water and high water, the stench of the mud and vibrating greens, those rusty hulks against a background of yachts and the might of the navy, has never been so vividly portrayed by any other artist of the time." Another revealing letter from a student of Snape's describes him as having rather an artistic bent: "A quiet, kind, inward-thinking man who dressed badly and needed a shave most times."

Snape’s works at the exhibition documenting the area’s constantly changing scenes are accompanied by historic photographs carefully selected by The Friends of Gosport Museum. Together, they reveal a unique insight into the Gosport of Snape’s time.

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