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Roses Revival

Art of the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Spring 2006

Tony Lewery

Tony Lewry looks back to explore the origins of today’s canal painting

As a long-time enthusiast of the narrowboat painting tradition, and the author of some books and articles on the subject, I am occasionally asked to try to identify the painter of a particular piece of work. It is always a compliment and a pleasurable duty to try, and it has offered me access to a number of interesting pieces that I would not have otherwise seen. Unfortunately, of course, the more historical the piece the more difficult is the attribution. By the time we are back in the 1930s I am floundering with a number of recognisable styles but very few names to connect them to. Bearing in mind that in the first 60 years of the twentieth century narrowboat traffic declined from a lot to very little, it is particularly frustrating to have the exact reverse in terms of hard information. There is plenty of documentation from the last days of regular carrying, but only a relatively tiny amount from the really busy time before the First World War. The amount from the early nineteenth …

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