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VIEWS IN COLONIAL NATAL (article first published : 2005-07-8)

Adams & Co. Booksellers & Ikeís Books & Collectables are to launch Nigel Hughesís Views In Colonial Natal :The Paintings of Cathcart William Methven 1849-1925.

Nigel Hughes has followed up the successful publishing ofThe Paintings of the Bay of Natal (released in 2001) with an equally impressive book, Views in Colonial Natal: the works of Cathcart William Methven.

Cathcart William Methven was Natalís (now KwaZulu-Natal) foremost artist prior to World War 1. An exceptional man of many talents, he left a legacy of splendid topographical views of Natal, dating from his arrival from Scotland in 1888 to his death in Pietermaritzburg in 1925.

Apart from serving as Port Natalís harbour engineer, Methven was also a founder of the Natal Institute of Architects, founding father of the Durban Art Gallery, a fine amateur musician Ė writing the specifications for the Durban Town Hall organ, marine engineer, surveyor and an expert trout angler.

All who reside in KZN or have spent part of their lives in the area will appreciate the fine selection of paintings, representing a range of subjects and landscape views from the Drakensberg mountains, the Midlands, to Durban and its harbour. Methven was considered a ĎVictorianí painter to the end, a label he didnít mind at all.

Nigel Hughes has selected more than 40 of Methvenís works for full colour plate illustration with an accompanying explanatory text. Some of the paintings include Durban Bay from Coedmore (1910) , Durban from the Geerdts homestead at Clairwood (1912), Durban from Clark Road (1888), Giantís Castle under Snow (1902), Durban from Sydenham Road (1891), Valley of a Thousand Hills (1921), Scene on Umgeni at Howick (1921), and Umsindusi River Bridge, Alexandra Park (PMB , 1924). The KZN South Coast and Western Cape Coast are also included.

A select catalogue raisonne also forms part of the publication. This is an academic listing and illustration in colour of all the known Southern African paintings and watercolours. A short biographical sketch of the artist introduces and places him in the context of the times.

Views in Colonial Natal is a 144-page book, limited to a print-run of 1,000 copies of which 150 are the deluxe edition, numbered 1 to 150, handbound in half leather with a lined slipcase, all three edges of the pages are gilt-edged - price R2,995. The remaining 850 copies make up the standard edition, casebound, full colour dust jacket numbered 151 to 1,000 with one edge gilt-edged - price R695.

The author, Nigel Hughes, is managing director of a major export trading house. He has varied interests, the art of Natal/KwaZulu-Natal being a speciality. He is an active yachtsman and member of the Durban-based Point Yacht Club and Royal Natal Yacht Club. Over the past years, he has developed an intimate knowledge of Durban harbour, its history and shipping activities. He is an avid collector of southern African antiquarian charts and books, particularly those maritime in nature, and in this way he combines a keen enthusiasm for art and historical research. Nigel Hughes was born in Chatham, England, and graduated with a BCom from the University of Natal, later qualifying as a chartered accountant.




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