20th Century British Art
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Horace Mann Livens (1862-1936)

Painter and etcher of interiors, landscapes, townscapes, flowers and poultry. Born 16 December 1862 in Croydon, Surrey, son of a colonial broker. He began studying under Walter Wallis at Croydon School of Art, while working in his father's office in the City. He worked under Verlat at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp, circa 1885, where he met and became a friend of Van Gogh. Inviting Livens to Paris the following year, Van Gogh wrote: 'Since I am here in Paris I have very often thought of yourself and work. You will remember that I liked your colour, your ideas on art and literature and I add, most of all your personality . I would very much like to know what you are doing and whether you ever think of going to Paris. If ever you did come here . I will share my lodgings and studio with you so long as I have any.. I felt sure at the time that you are a thorough colourist and since I saw the impressionists I assure you that neither your colour nor mine as it is developing itself, is exactly the same as their theories.' Livens accepted the invitation to Paris and spent time studying French painting, and was especially influenced by Whistler and Japanese prints. He exhibited at the RA from 1890-9, NEAC from 1896-1904, and at the Grosvenor Gallery and abroad; he was Foundation Associate of the IS. His first one-man exhibition was at the Goupil Gallery, 1911. In 1916 he illustrated E. V. Lucas's London Revisited . Livens exhibited until 1929, afterwhich ill health prevented him form working - he died at Harrow on 5 October 1936. His work is held in the Tate and the Government Art Collection

After Livens' death in 1936 two events occurred which threatened to destroy the work on which his early reputation had been built: during World War II a number of his paintings, in store in London, disappeared in the bombing, and in 1957 a fire at his widow's home in Harrow destroyed a further group of his work. The Times obituary stated that Livens "once enjoyed a singular reputation" - but, save for a few admirers, he has long been forgotten

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