Herbert Colborne Oakley   (1869 - 1944)
His Sketches

Ivor Arnold


As with his paintings, the record that exists of the sketches he produced is sadly lacking.  His work in this area seems to have been focused on people in Mory-Montcrux in France, Settignano in Italy, and St. David's in Wales.  Whether most of the subjects for his sketches became the subjects for his portraits is unclear.  Only a few such examples are with us today.  Hopefully as additional information becomes available on his work, a clearer understanding of the extent of his activity in both these areas will emerge.

During, and immediately following, his time as an art teacher at the Kidderminster School of Art, he seems to have spent considerable time sketching the landscape around Church Stretton in Shropshire - roughly 45 miles from Kidderminster.  The beauty of the countryside in that area clearly appealed to him.  Some of the watercolours we have images of are based on these sketches.

His sketches seem to have aroused interest in at least some quarters of the art scene in Paris in the mid 1920's.  The Paris magazine "Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui" run a number of articles on his work, and the reviews in each case appear to have been extremely positive.  A copy of some of these reviews are shown below.

1 Jan. 1926 Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui
15 Nov. 1926 Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui-1 Jan 1926 - p1 Les Artistes d'Aujourd'hui

The second article, loosely translated, reads:

Beautiful designs of Herbert Oakley

I have already spoken many times of what a fine artist is Herbert C. Oakley. Our readers will still admire here nine new works of this painter who is also a master of pen and pencil.
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.
You should see closely, these beautiful drawings of which the technical scholar, nevertheless without artifices, puts emphasis on reliefs, and models by the means of his menus of pen strokes or of pencil.
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.
The painter has now almost entirely forsaken color to devote himself to form and he achieves a pure drawing with striking results. One would be tempted to say that he sculpts with a pen so his portraits are powerfully modeled.
Herbert C. Oakley places a very high ideal on his art and is a thinker who has very beautiful and noble ideas and whose great talent carries the imprint.

Andre Pascal-Levis
Back to Contents


Please excuse the lack of "Further Information" in the linked pages below  -  hopefully a few relevant and interesting details will be uncovered on the subjects as the web site evolves.
     The sketches have been grouped by country and arranged chronologically within each group. They are typically 8" by 12" in size.

"The H. C. Oakley Virtual Gallery" Copyright © 2005-2013 Andrew Gray