Muriel Pemberton (1909-1993):
Butties, early 1930's
Framed (ref: 4456)
Signed, Inscribed '2'
Watercolour, 14 1/2 x 21 in. (35.5 x 53.5 cm.)
Provenance: Acuqired directfly from the artist by Laurie Stewart
Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 33.
Little of Muriel Pemberton’s early work is known to have survived – these two watercolours can be dated to the early 1930s. Canal boats (known as Butties), of the type depicted, were horse drawn and would have been later converted to motor boats after the mid 30s.
As a Londoner, Pemberton would have frequented Richmond Park – the setting for Birch Trees – a favourite haunt of artists to paint en plein air. Easily portable and fast drying, watercolour lent itself to painting on the spot and was as a result an adept medium for capturing atmospheric affects. However, unlike drawing or oil painting, watercolour could not be corrected and therefore required a surety of intention.
As a student at The Royal College of Art, Pemberton was awarded the first ever Diploma in Fashion by the College, in 1931. Her fellow student and fianceé, Stanley Lewis, recalled being berated by Pemberton for not being more modern in his approach. Pemberton went on to pioneer art-school training in fashion in Britain (at St Martin’s School of Art), influencing attitudes to design throughout Europe.
We are grateful to David Buckman and Tim Coghlan for assistance.