Herbert Colborne Oakley   (1869 - 1944)
Biography - Mory-Montcrux, France

France Mory-Montcrux.

A small village in Oise.
Half way between Amiens and Compiegne
and roughly 150 km north of Paris.

In a letter to the artist in 1938, commenting on village life, a friend wrote

"... I prefer quiet Mory-Montcrux, where the fine big horses trudge along leisurely & their masters do likewise, you seldom see anyone rushing about except young people on bikes.  Look at our old postman, how "tout-en-paix" he distributes his letters & newspapers, at each house a sit down & talk about politics or his wife or anything on earth and people can wait for their expected letters till he can find time to remember them."

In France, Oakley spent much time, through many visits over a twenty year period, in a country that appears to have "inspired" him, particularly in a city like Paris, where in a letter to a friend in 1924, he writes :

"France inspires me with the desire to work. The French are full of energy, and you catch that energy yourself, above all if you happen to be an artist, for the stimulus to do your best is quickened where art is understood and the artist is sympathised with."

It would appear that his work attracted some interest in France. The Paris magazine "Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui", in 1926, run a number of articles on his work, and the reviews in each case appear to have been extremely positive.

"His talent, a very personal accent, is expressive and powerful, and his line beautifully captures not only the features, but the soul of the same model."

"The manner of Herbert C. Oakley is both simple and skillful, simple because one feels that the artist works effortlessly, skillful because the line is always placed most accurately to give maximum life to the figure reproduced."

These articles can been seen in a later section entitled "Sketches"

Aside from the time spent in Paris, a considerable amount of his time in France seems to have been spent in Mory-Montcrux, a small village in Oise, where he stayed with the Logan family, Florence and Colin, at their home, "Villa Claire".  It is the people from this community that became the subjects for many of his sketches - some of which he brought back to St. David's in Wales and provide a glimpse of the work he did in France - doubtless there must be a considerable number of his portraits that would have remained in the area.  It is hoped that we may learn of some of these and be permitted to add them to this web site.

Roger Omont

Roger Omont
Madame P

Madame P.


Next: Biography - Italy

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