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Irish Cottage is an astute observation of a rural farming community and the working houses which serve the farms. There is a partially obscured couple in the foreground wearing country attire, Carel Weight is quoted as saying: Even when I paint a landscape out of doors, and I say I’m not going to put any figures in; when I get back to the studio I always paint in figures; it would be too lonely without people.
Carel Weight, CH, CBE, RA was born in London in 1908. His parents placed Weight with a foster mother, within a working class district. He would spend weekends in his parents’ middle class household, and became acutely aware of the contrast between deprivation and affluence. From an early age he was sensitive to the unexpected – the shock of burning buildings or a bus mounting the pavement; these early experiences became part of his visual territory, and informed his social realism.
Weight studied at the local Hammersmith School of Art (1928-30). He taught art at Beckenham School of Art (1932-39). He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists, and was a committee member of the Artists International Association, which helped artists fleeing Nazi Europe. After being called up to the Royal Engineers, he taught with the Army Education Corps (1944-45) before being sent to Italy as an official War Artist (1945-46).
After the War, Weight was invited to teach at the Royal College of Art, London and became Professor of Painting 1957 where students included David Hockney. He was awarded a CBE in 1962. The following year he painted the mural Christ and the People for Manchester Cathedral, and in 1965 was elected RA, and was honoured with a one man exhibition at the Academy in 1982.
Weights work is held in a number of public collections including Tate, London; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Imperial War Museum, London and the Government Art Collection. His work was also in the private collection of David Bowie.