In his time, Gordon Coutts was an artist of international renown. His paintings hang (or were hung, as some museums have deaccessioned his work) in the most prestigious galleries and museums in Australia, Europe and America. But today, he is relatively unknown. Why?
Gordon was not an innovator, but he was a more skillful painter than most. His style was not outrageous, but somewhat subdued, ranging from tonalism to impressionism, but always in the realistic and representational manner he adopted early in his career.
Gordon studied under some of the most famous artists of his time. His usual palette was that of the Heidelberg School. He was extremely prolific.
He sometimes copied the works of others, especially popular paintings, even copying his own work. But this is not unusual for any artist, especially those living off of their art sales.
Historically he had contact with several movements or schools of art: the Glasgow Boys (when he was a teen and through Sir John Lavery); the Heidelberg School in Australia; California 'plein air' painters, both North and South; and Orientalism.
As one of few painters who could do landscape and figure with superior craftsmanship and skill, he often combined both.
But throughout his life, he was rarely the top painter in terms of prestige or accolades or awards. And today his works bring far fewer dollars at auction than artists of clearly less ability.
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