back@using System.Web;

Maxwell Ashby Armfield

(1881 - 1972)

Maxwell Ashby Armfield, a painter in oil, tempera and watercolour of figurative and landscape subjects, was born in Ringwood, Hampshire in 1881. The son of an engineer, his Quaker parents were supportive of his love of art and encouraged him to enrol at art school. Armfield studied at the Birmingham School of Art in 1897 where he was influenced by Payne Gaskin and in particular, Joseph Edward Southall (1861-1944), who taught Armfield the techniques of painting in tempera, he also fell under the spell of the Pre-Raphaelites, seen in Birmingham.

In 1902 Armfield travelled to Paris where he studied at the Atelier Colarossi where he shared a studio with Norman Wilkinson and Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935). Armfield received critical acclaim in Paris where in 1905 and 1906 he exhibited “Dionysus” and “St Catherine”, a number of aquatints, while his ‘Faustine’ was exhibited at the Musée Luxembourg. Armfield also met with considerable success in London, holding one-man exhibitions from 1903 at the Carfax Gallery, and in 1908 and 1912 at the Leicester Galleries and elsewhere. Armfield himself acknowledged the influence of Japanese prints, which he collected from as early as 1903, on his colour and that of the Slade School of painters headed by Philip Wilson Steer OM (1860-1942), with their impressionistic style. But it was above all the influence of artists working in an industrial context, and designers like Mucha and Steinlen, who were to have a lasting effect on Armfield.

In 1915 Armfield and his wife Constance left for America where they travelled extensively, painting and teaching; amongst his publications were “An Artist in America” published in 1925. A great admirer of America, Armfield and his wife nonetheless returned to England, in part owing to Constance’s health, living in London and Hampshire, and then to Dorset.

A significant figure in art and design, Armfield exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, at the Royal Academy 1912-1962, the New English Arts Club and the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour.