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Archibald THORBURN, F.S.Z. (1860-1935)
Study of clam shells on a sandy beach, 1920
Signed with initils "A.T." and dated "June 5 1920" lower right
Watercolour with bodycolour on buff paper
17.5 cm x 25 cm
A delightful and finely observed study by Thorburn, almost certainly painted en plein air, from nature, to be used as a detail in working-up other pictures back in the studio. The scattered shells, which are very accurately depicted, are those of the black clam or ocean quahog (Arctica islandica (Linnaeus 1767)), a species which shows exceptional longevity and is naive to the North Atlantic. They are often found scattered on British beaches.
Works such as Thorburn's "Oystercatchers , Terns and Ringed Plovers"1 and "Ringed Plovers and Terns"2 both have an almost identically arranged group of shells in the foreground which was probably sourced from the image here.
Provenance: Private Collection UK
1. Published W.F. Embleton, Jermyn Street, London, 1920
2. See Lot 41 Christie's sale "Sporting Art, Wildlife and Dogs", South Kensington, 11 March 2010 (Realized GBP17,500)