Among the great and the good in the world of Dartmoor artists one would be remiss not to mention R. D. Sherrin alongside such men as F. J. Widgery, C. E. Brittan and T. Rowden. Not a lot is known about this artist although he was a prolific painter of Dartmoor scenes and coastal landscapes. Today his work regularly fetches auction prices that are into the high hundreds with the occasional one creeping in the thousand pound price bracket.
Like many of the noted Dartmoor artists Reginald Daniel Sherrin was born into a family of painters as both his grandfather, John and his father, Daniel were noted artists. Daniel studied under the watchful eye of B. W. Leader and produced numerous works of art inspired by the marinescapes of Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk. Later he turned his hand to landscapes and found fame, culminating in a commission from Kind George V to paint Sandringham. During the First World war Daniel Sherrin turned his hand to poster designs that were intended to inspire men to join Kitchener’s army.
Reginald was born on the 5th of April 1891 at Seasalter which is near Whitstable in Kent. It’s known that he served his country in the First World War and that during the Second World War he again did his bit by working in a munitions factory in Rochester. In 1953 he left Kent and moved down to Starcross in Devon where he began painting the moorland landscapes which in the main appear to be on the Northern Moor. He produced some fine studies of such places as Cosdon, Tavy Cleave, Belstone Moor, Great Houndtor and Yes Tor to name but a few. During this time he met Fredrick Widgery and often accompanied him on his Dartmoor excursions. It is generally considered that Sherrin became heavily influenced by Widgery in both style and medium, this being gauche and watercolour. It appears he never lost his love for the coast as along with his moorland paintings he produced many marine landscapes, especially on and around the Cornish Coasts. Not only did he produce works under his own name but Sherrin also signed some of his paintings under two pseudonyms. These being: J. Whitely and D. A. Neil (which is an anagram of his second name Daniel0. Reginald Sherrin died in 1971 at the grand old age of 80, leaving a fine legacy of Dartmoor paintings, some of which can be seen by clicking on the thumbnails opposite. When comparing these works with some of Widgery’s it is easy to see where Sherrin has been greatly influenced by the former artist, especially in the skies and horizons. Both artists use a water source of some kind in the foreground of many of their paintings, if its not a pool, stream or river then a trackway of some kind is depicted. Clearly this is one of the basic techniques of landscape portrayal insomuch as it draws the eye into the picture but even so both men have clearly master this art to dramatic effect.
Now there is no way I would even attempt to say that I know anything about the technicalities of the art world, I just know what I like and as far as Dartmoor goes which works capture its spirit. All of the opposite examples of Sherrin’s work portray the various moods and lights of the moors whilst at the same time are full of atmosphere. Most of Sherrin’s paintings that I have seen all faithfully produce the ever changing moorland landscape but there are a couple of gauche works that verge on gaudiness. They seems to be very much like those ghastly paintings that were popular in the 1970s where the colours appeared too over-emphasized. Below are two of his works, one displays Sherrin’s brilliance and the other is an example of his gaudiness, maybe he was having a bad day?
If you look at the above, left hand painting the colours seem to be over-emphasised, especially with the heathers and the sky whereas the other picture the hues are much subtler and true to life.