48 x 48 in
Inscribed and dated 'High Sea, Aldeburgh, Suffolk April 1964'
Collection of the artist
Piano Nobile (label on reverse)
Private Collection, UK
1964, London, Zwemmer Gallery, Peter Coker, no. 17
1965, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Summer Exhibition, no. 156
1972/73, Colchester, The Minories, Peter Coker RA, paintings, pastels, drawings, etchings, no. 26, as Aldeburgh; touring to Bath, Victoria Gallery; London, The Morley Gallery; Sheffield, Mappin Art Gallery
1978, Chelmsford, Chelmsford and Essex Museum, Works by Peter Coker R.A., no. 15
2005, London, Piano Nobile, Peter Coker, no number, col. ill., p. 9 and front cover.
2017, London, Piano Nobile, Peter Coker: Mind and Matter, 5 April - 13 May 2017, cat. no. 12, col. ill. p. 39.
David Wootton with contributions by John Russell Taylor and Richard Humphreys, Peter Coker RA (Chris Beetles Ltd, 2002), cat. rais. no. 101, p. 121, col. ill. p. 69.
Acutely aware of the weight of tradition and immersed in the legacies of the artists he held in esteem, Aldeburgh I is an assured synthesis of artistic references that inform Coker’s distinctive sensibility. Whilst the precedent of Courbet’s stormy seas holds strong as with Seascape [cat. 11], the pink hues of a setting sun over a turbulent North Sea inescapably recalls the British tradition of threatening seascapes, particularly those of JMW Turner. The narrow band of sky visible above a high horizon line echoes a
motif found in de Staël’s horizons, that of building up strata of colour as seen in works such as Fontenay, 1952; Private Collection. The view of Aldeburgh beach is slightly angled down the shore so the waves break on the horizontal and a triangle of shingle
is visible in the lower left of the composition. Coker’s delineation of individual pebbles instantly recalls works such as de Staël’s Composition 1951, 1951; Private Collection, with its idiosyncratic accumulation of askew rectangular blocks of paint.
Comparing Aldeburgh I with the earlier Seascape, Coker substitutes towering waves more akin to rock faces than water with whirling white foam. High tide waves crash up the shore, eddying and swirling in foaming pools before being subsumed into the next wave, which – in Aldeburgh I – is coiled ready to unleash with full force. The sheath of frothing white encompasses a multiplicity of tones: greens, blues, pinks, greys, even touches of black bleed into one another in marbled vortices. Ever conscious of his artistic forefathers, Coker wore the inheritance he assumed lightly, producing in Aldeburgh I a work that reverberates with historical echoes and yet is entirely original and ferociously modern.