Thursday, 22 March 2007

Gilbert Holiday

Here are a few of Gilbert’s works. (He was my Grandfather’s first cousin and so my first cousin twice removed). He died young in 1936, a very well known Equestrian and First World War artist. He served in the Royal Horse Artillery before and during mechanisation. A delightful and rare drawing of an unknown dog.

He was considered by his peers, “Snaffles” (Charles Johnson Payne) and Lionel Edwards to be the best Equestrian Artist of his era excelling in the expressing of movement.

This is how I would like the world to have seen my Military career. The truth is I was always in the dust, literally and metaphorically.

Olympia 1934

The Household Cavalry receiving new Standards from HM The King. My Regiment, The Life Guards are on the right of the picture as you look at it.

Musical Ride of The Blues, The Royal Horse Guards.

Royal Horse Artillery

I have many more images to up load but here are a few to begin with.
I found this about him.

He was a most sensitive artist and highly thought of by his contemporaries particularly C.J. Payne (Snaffles) and Lionel Edwards. Lionel Edwards said of him “no one can, or ever could, paint a horse in action better than Gilbert could.” His style is an impressionistic one and his broad direct strokes enabled him to capture movement and action with success in any medium. His draughtsmanship was superbly disciplined. He probably excelled more than any other artist in portraying polo successfully and was a master at depicting speed. He worked in oil, charcoal, watercolor and pastel and frequently combined the latter three media.


chris miller said...

Please show us more !

I made some effort to avoid being in the military myself -- but I do love parades and action scenes.

I like your cousin's sense of design as well -- and he liked a bright, sunny day.

marlyat2 said...

The horse seems a test, doesn't it? Something a lot of people can't quite master. Your cousin-twice-or-thrice removed certainly makes action look easy.

Anonymous said...

I have been collecting works by Gilbert Holiday for a number of years, (when I can afford them!)

Do you know where he died and is buried? Compared to the other 20th Century sporting artists there is little known about the man.

I think he's the best!

Robert said...

Thank you and welcome anonymous. I too think he was the best!

I will talk again to his descendants and write a short Biography here with their blessing. Yes we do however know quite a lot about him and it is an interesting story with a sad ending. said...

I discovered Gilbert Holiday this summer at Saratoga when I bought a lovely signed print of his at an antique show. I had no idea who he was but have started to research.The particular print I fell in love with is done on a racecourse obviously during WW1. It shows a cavalry regiment galloping counter clockwise at a mad dash toward the enemy and in the forefront of the picture is a group of foxhunters in oblivion to the cavalry. It seems to be a take on what the mounted officers would have been persuing had it not been wartime. I feel lucky to have stumbled on Mr. Holiday and will look for more information on him,

Hayesmyth said...

I have an original watercolour, which I think is probably unrecorded. Should I have this looked at (expertised). If so, how do I go about it?

Hayesmyth said...

I have an original signed watercolour, which I think has not been recorded. Should I have this looked at (expertised)? If so, how do I go about it?

Robert said...

It would be most interesting especially to the family. Do get in touch by email and I will pass it on. A low resolution picture of it would help.

Ali Bannister said...

Wonderful to see your pictures. Please do keep them coming. I only became aware of his work last year, whilst working on Spielberg's version of War Horse, but was instantly enthralled. I love the humour in his work as well as the incredible observation of both horse anatomy and behaviour.

As well as his techinical skill and observation there is a wonderful human quality to his work.

I can only imagine having such a relative. It must be a great feeling and inspiration.

Please do keep us up to date with any new information you find, plus I would love to know more about the man himself and his story.

Any plans to write a book? I would queue up to buy it!

Ali Bannister

Ali Bannister said...

Hi there, I have been a huge fan of your relative's work since I uncovered a small print of his in amongst my great grandfather's things.

My interest in the area was piqued further by working as the Equine Artistic Advisor on Spielberg's version of Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse'. Part of my role was to produced sketches to go into the film which I'm sorry to say, pale in comparison, but I look forward greatly to seeing more of Gilbert's work here. I admire his gentle, sensitive humour as much as his eye, accuracy and technical abilities.

I was lucky enough to meet Michael Morpurgo on the set of the film and he commissioned me to paint a portrait of Joey to match the fictional one that starts the book.

Both the painting and the sketches are now in the 'War Horse: Fact & Fiction' exhibition at the National Army Museum. I have sent photos of your relative's work to the curator in the hope that it would be possible to include some in the exhibition as I can't think of anyone's work that I would rather see there. So well did he capture the relationship between horse and man at the time.

Anyway, here's a link for the exhibition:

Please do keep sharing these wonderful pictures and insights with us.

Ali Bannister