Sydney Lough Thompson

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1877, d.1973

Earthenware Market, Concarneau

  • Marjorie Bassett bequest, 1964
  • Oil on wood panel
  • 370 x 455mm
  • 69/185
  • c. 1916
  • View on google maps

For most of his long working life as an artist Sydney Thompson lived as an expatriate painter living in France. His main base was in the small artistic community and fishing village of Concarneau in Brittany from which this scene was taken.

The Earthenware Market shows a small group of Bretons selling their pottery goods down near the harbour edge. Thompson's Concarneau studio was also near this part of town at the entrance to the sheltered harbour and it is possible that this scene was visible from the balcony of his studio.

Rather like the plein-air sketches of the British Impressionists, Thompson's use of visible brushwork and unmodulated zones of strong hues and tones effectively captures the sense of light, atmosphere and activity. Although this is probably a studio work made from a series of plein-air sketches, he retains the sense of vibrancy and immediacy and captures, with just a few strokes, the characteristic poses of the locals as they work the market.

As well as exhibiting his work in France, Sydney Thompson returned periodically to Canterbury and many of his Concarneau works were exhibited at the Canterbury Society of Arts where they were enthusiastically received.