SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex

SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex

With one exception, all of Kenneth Rowntree's Essex pictures for 'Recording Britain' were of churches and chapels, and the church of SS. Peter and Paul in Little Saling was particular favourite. This is the only exterior view he painted of the church. The unusually narrow format echoes the form and proportions of the fourteenth-century church with its round tower. He made no attempt to disguise the signs of neglect apparent in and around the church: large flakes of plaster have fallen from the tower, and the churchyard is overgrown. At the time Rowntree painted this watercolour, he was living in the nearby village of Great Bardfield, which numbered among its residents the artists Michael Rothenstein, Eric Ravilious, and Edward Bawden. Ravilious and Bawden were largely responsible for the revival of watercolour painting in the 1930s, developing a fresh, distinctive style with an emphasis on pattern and decoration. On the evidence of his 'Recording Britain' pictures, Rowntree was very much a part of this tendency.