SHEPHERD W & K GALLERIES European Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture
SAMUELSON, Peter   1912-1996
20th Century
British school

JOHN THE SHOEMAKER, 1950s

Dimensions: 8” x 10” (20.2 x 25.4 cm).

John the Shoemaker features in three oil paintings in Samuelson’s book, Post-War Friends. One, John the Shoemaker at the Bench, painted in Torquay in 1952, is similar to the present drawing. The other two, John the Shoemaker Writing and John the Shoemaker, Tea-Break, were painted in Torquay in 1955. The artist’s most prolific time was in the 1950s and 1960s. His work comprises spare line drawings and oil portraits nearly all depicting male sitters identified simply by their first names. His titles are descriptive and refer to the friends and people or characters he knew in Torquay, where he worked at his stepmother’s hotel, and also in London, where he took in lodgers. Although not a self-promoter, Samuelson did attract critical attention for his work. John Russell Taylor called Samuelson a “romantic realist” for his realistic but “appreciative and unsentimental” portraits of handsome young men. Thomas Dane, a reviewer of the artist’s book, Post-War Friends, noted that “his working class lads [are] portrayed with a simplicity, respect and even a certain romantic grandeur.” His spare handling of line lends sensitivity and spontaneity to his drawings. Samuelson was largely self-taught. He studied briefly, but somewhat futilely at the École des beaux-arts in Paris prior to World War I. After the war he moved to Holland (his wife was Dutch) and worked as an illustrator. After his divorce in 1947, he moved back to England to work in Torquay and London. In the 1960s he trained as a restorer of rugs and stopped painting altogether in 1965 to focus on restoring, only returning to painting in the 1980s after he had moved to the English countryside. In 1988, when the artist was in his seventies, his first one-man show was held at St. Jude’s Antiques in London. He also had a show at Leighton House. (See catalog no. 41.)
References:
David Buckman, Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945 (Bristol [England], 1998), vol. 2, pp. 1066-67. Thomas Dane, “Peter Samuelson: Post-War Friends” Arts Review (London) 40, no. 7 (8 April 1988): p. 233. Peter Samuelson, Post-War Friends (London, 1987), ill. pp. 21, 25, 34 (paintings of John the Shoemaker). John Russell Taylor, introduction to Peter Samuelson Post-War Friends (London, 1987), pp. 5-10.