Sir William Russell Flint PRWS RA RE RSW 1880-1969
The Leap, Bamburgh, 1919
Watercolour on paper,
20 x 28 inches, 51 x 71 cm
Signed and dated 1919
Against the swell and rush of the sea, an expanse of the sky and voluminous clouds, a child is being encouraged to leap across a gap in the shoreline rocks into the safety of an adult's arms.
Flint depicts an apparent moment of stark choice, but the youngster has little say in the matter. Although the adults represent safety, the child has been led by them to the edge of a hiatus in the rocks.
In the context of the so recent horrors and losses of WWI, it has been suggested that Flint is offering his metaphor for the risks and dangers of being led by authority. The ordinary man being sent to the front line to face death for the glory of the State is like the useless risk of a child being pushed to leap a chasm when the rocks can be circumvented. At this time, other artists, writers and poets who were making more radical expressions of objection were less concerned about the aesthetic sensibilities of their public. If this is his metaphor, it remains disguised as a work of tranquil nature, to be available to any purchaser, who may love it for the skill of execution and apparent idyllic evocations of childhood.