After writing about G. D. Armour yesterday, I took his autobiography, Bridle & Brush down from the shelf and re-read a few familiar chapters. His life's account is a pleasant read, except for the parts where he goes out deer stalking or bull fighting. It's much easier to relate to him than Munnings (The Start, The Second Burst and The Finish) or even Lionel Edwards (Reminiscences of a Sporting Artist). For some reason, whenever I try reading their biographies, it's a case of "you had to be there". The drinking, carousing and all night talks about art are never as funny, exciting or interesting on the printed page as they seem to be to the participants. Armour's style is more direct. For instance, his explanation of how he arrived at the title of the book is disarmingly honest - he submitted a title which the editors condemned, so he left it to them. I could borrow his dissection of the title to explain the title of my blog, "The Fox's Brush" - the reference to the fox is pretty obvious, being that elusive creature that has fascinated anyone who's ever ridden to hounds, the brush being a familiar foxhunting term, but in this instance refers to "the instrument by means of which pictures - good, bad and indifferent - are painted." George Denholm Armour was a very down-to-earth fellow, with no pretentions and an admirable, workmanlike attitude towards his art.
Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, he was never a bona-fide member of the smart hunting set of southern England. He grew up in Liverpool, then attended Edinburgh College of Art. Like F. A Stewart, another Scotsman and one of my all-time favorite painters, he doesn't have the name recognition of some of his contemporaries, Cecil Aldin, Alfred Munnings and Lionel Edwards, at least not in this country. Although he wasn't as prolific as they were, Armour produced a large body of work for which he deserves some recognition.