ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

lifeboat, corsica


Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil. 17 x 15in. (43.5 x 39cm.) Signed and dated lower left. Provenance Sotheby’s, studio sale, 24 April 1985, lot 556. Phillips, 20 June 2000, lot 133, ill. b/w Jarvis Hotels, Ltd. Kidson-Trigg, Swindon, 17 June 2008, lot 201, as “The Boat”. Retrosixty, Worthing, Sussex. Exhibited Penzance, Framer’s Gallery, 1980, no. 23. This is a tightly framed three-quarter stern view of the lifeboat. The curves of the bilge and the rudder combine to give a dramatic outline to the beached vessel. It is an example of the “Watson” class of motor lifeboat, a highly successful and long-lived type that saw service in UK waters before being phased out following the introduction of self-righting lifeboats. As the boats were released from service they were sold, and this particular one must have ended up in Corsica where Colquhoun saw it and was attracted by the visual qualities of the stern and the unusual vantage point. Interestingly, when Eric Ravilious saw a “Watson” class boat still in service at Aldeborough in 1938, he chose to paint it from exactly the same viewpoint although his watercolour has a wider, less dramatic, focus.