Son’s book lists Italian paintings by Newbury artist Christopher Hall

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Many are familiar with Newbury’s artist Christopher Hall’s paintings, may even be lucky enough to own one or like me have had the privilege of hanging his work in exhibitions.

He was a ‘painter of people and places’ with a unique style and although many loved his Newbury scenes, he was known for his accurate and colorful depictions of the town of Recanati in the Marche region of Italy, which he visited regularly.

Christopher was prolific, his career spanning the decades between 1954 and 2016.

Anthony Hall
First photo of Chris painting No. 165, Entry into Jerusalem 1
First photo of Chris painting No. 165, Entry into Jerusalem 1

He also developed a reputation in local politics, representing the Liberals (now Liberal Democrats) on the former Newbury Borough and District Councils for many years and was Mayor of Newbury between 1967 and 1968, when he was only 36, becoming one of the youngest. men to hold the office in the council’s 370-year history.

Christopher has had a long association with Italy after his first visit in the early 1950s on the advice of his father. On his first trip, Chris met his wife Maria in Recanati and they were married in 1957. (Again, many who knew him are familiar with the romantic tale and his lifelong devotion to Maria.) He is returned several times during his life, with Maria, family and sometimes with friends, resulting in many paintings of Italian landscapes, churches, beaches and spectacular hilltop towns.

Chris’ eldest son, Anthony, who lives in Newbury, has just published a book of almost 400 images of Italian paintings, covering from 1954 to 2014, two years before his death.

3093 Piazza Leopardi, Recanati October 2002
3093 Piazza Leopardi, Recanati October 2002
1886 The Farm, Recanati Pincio II July 1986
1886 The Farm, Recanati Pincio II July 1986
3619 Blue towel at Staffolo October 2011
3619 Blue towel at Staffolo October 2011

They illustrate his father’s biography, laid out in catalog form, with Anthony’s personal observations and recollections of family trips to the Recanati region. He discusses the development of figures and the use of black outline as Chris matured as a painter, and also takes issue with the label of “naive” sometimes attributed to his style.

It was a feat to collect the 380+ images, but Chris had recorded each of the incredible 3,800 paintings he had started in his life in a register that gave Anthony a point of reference… and Anthony was on a mission.

Besides the drawing books, portfolios, slides and photographs that Chris left behind and family work, he set about contacting anyone who might have pictures, searching the internet or organizations that had shown his work or auction houses that might have handled them for works the family no longer owned. Where he could not locate the paintings, he has, where possible, included preliminary drawings and sketches in the book. Some images taken from the web have reproduced less well, but serve to make the collection more complete.

Chris Hall in 2015
Chris Hall in 2015

Anthony said: “Most of the work took about two years until July 2019 when I was hoping it would be ready for the retrospective we had at Recanati.”

This exhibit was in honor of the support of family and friends Chris had there, his legacy in his art, and its importance to his life and that of his family. “However our printing contact felt it needed a lot more work and after many small revisions I finally arranged for it to be printed at Quadraphics in King’s Road, Newbury, there a few months.”

In these less than optimistic times, it was a joy to discover or rediscover Chris’ cheerful paintings and to read a bit of the background to them.

TRISH LEE

The Italy of Christopher Hall – A Fully Illustrated Biography of His Career and Paintings in Italy – 1954 to 2014 is sold by Newbury Museum.

It is also available directly from Anthony via [email protected] (ordinary postage is £2.70 in the UK, but he will personally deliver within five miles of Newbury free of charge). Many pictures can also be seen at https://christopherhall.pictures

Price £23.95



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