Monday, 6 February 2012


It would be nice to believe that this old, naive oil painting was of the Estuary, viz. the estuary of the Exe. If it is not an altogether imaginary scene existing solely in the mind of its creator then where is it? It was bought in Exeter a quarter of a century ago and there are no further clues to its provenance. One feels that one is looking up river to commons and moorland rather than out to sea, perhaps looking across to the Clyst. That would put it on the western bank of the river and perhaps, if on the Exe, Powderham is the only likely spot. But could Powderham ever have looked like this, and if so, when?

The 'creel' or fisherman's basket is very convincing. ('Creel' is a jolly word but too Norman to be an estuary word. There is no doubt a splendid Anglo Saxon word for it lurking somewhere.) Convincing too is the boy in the punt poking with a paddle and the man in the lugger who it seems has anchored off on two, what we would now call 'fishermen's,' anchors.

The Exe or not, this painting gives the feel of what the shores of the Estuary would have been like before the railways came and straightened things out for us.

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