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Veronica Burleigh

(Hove, Sussex 1909-1998 Blackstone, Sussex)

Sawmill at Charlton, West Sussex, Goodwood Hill beyond, c.1930s  *SOLD*

oil on canvas 

signed lower right, ‘Veronica/ Burleigh’

76 x 102 cm.

The sawmill’s truck takes centre stage in this otherwise scenic landscape by Veronica Burleigh, with the famously picturesque Goodwood Hill partially obscured beyond. It’s a bold move that sets off-kilter the viewer’s traditional expectations, and it works. The gentle pastel greens, greys and pale lemon yellow also belie the subject-matter. It was a subject the artist warmed to, for there is a companion piece with the same sawmill shed and crested hill, now in a private collection in West Sussex.

Burleigh came from a celebrated artistic family: both her father and mother were artists who lived most of their lives in Sussex, having met at Brighton School of Art. Veronica’s father, Charles Henry Harrison Burleigh (1869 – 1956), had also studied in Paris, under Jacques-Emile Blanche, and his light touch and colouring clearly influenced his daughter’s work. Meanwhile, her mother Averil Mary Burleigh, née Dell (1883 – 1949), specialised in tempera and had a clear, graphic style that undoubtedly informed Veronica’s own sense of shape and structure. 

Like her parents, she graduated from Brighton and then went on with their encouragement to the Slade, 1927-1930, under the tutelage of Henry Tonks. As a fully-fledged artist she exhibited at the RA, SWA, Sussex Women’s Art Club and with the Sussex Painters, at Worthing, where the public gallery holds her work. During World War II she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, but her bread-and-butter trade was portraits. Landscapes such as this were rarer, painted for the artist’s own pleasure. In 1952, three years after her mother Averil’s death, Hove Museum & Art Gallery held an exhibition of works by all three of the Burleighs.

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