Wednesday, 30 March 2011 13:49

T.S. La Fontaine - A Collection of his Work Featured

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Carthorses in front of Malmesbury AbbeyTom La Fontaine's career as an artist spanned from his childhood until only a few months before his death. For most of this time he lived with his family in Malmesbury. His passion, his hobby, his work was art and a stunning collection of his pictures and drawings has just been published.

The record of his work in this book is extensive - spanning at least 50 years. His range of styles is impressive from cartoons, to life like - almost photographic images, to Rubenesque compositions. His ability to capture the very essence and feeling of his subject - whether that be a horse, dog or of course his excellent portraits of people from all walks of life, is extraordinary.

Experts at Sotheby's have mistaken his pictures as Munnings and Stubbs. Indeed, he will be remembered as one of the great artists of his time.

For further information and a book preview please go to:

The ISBN reference for this book is: 978-0-578-08084-0

The Story of the Book, by Jennifer La Fontaine

When my father was in his late eighties, we began a process of cataloguing his pictures. At that time they were simply a pile of photographs - a few of which had names written on the back in his characteristic hand writing. So we began by organising the 240 or so photos into several albums.

In December of 2005 I came to England from my home in Arizona, USA, for my Father's 90th birthday. He and I spent many delightful evenings sitting by the fire, drinking tea and pouring over the albums. As he reeled off the names of everyone in the pictures - including most of the horses and dogs, I rapidly typed them into my computer. There were many stories along the way too - some of which are in this book and some of which he wouldn't even let me add to our catalogue!

TS La Fontaine Book CoverIt was another four years (two years after his death) before the idea of a book emerged. October 2009 was my Aunt Madge's 100th birthday. Over a period of just a few months I put together a book for her of about 120 photographs. She loved it so much that I decided to expand the book to include as many of his pictures as possible.

During this time Sonia, Robin and I were clearing out his studio and came across many more of his pictures - some that we had no memory of having seen before. We found more photographs that he had taken of his finished pictures, many of them early ones in black and white. There were hundreds of studies, some quite rough and unfinished, other ones were beautiful pictures in their own right. There were sketch books with pencil and charcoal drawings and others filled with watercolours. Then we found comic strips and book illustrations that had been his bread and butter in his early days as a professional artist after he returned from the war.

Inside Malmesbury AbbeyApart from what was in his studio, there were pictures he had already given to each of us, as well as the ones in the family home in Malmesbury. Our challenge was to bring all this together. So then began a year long process of compiling a more complete record of his work.

Each time I thought we had found everything, something else would surface. Eventually the original 40 page book expanded to well over four times that size. I know there are still many more of his works of art 'out there'.

It has been a journey of marvellous discovery, appreciation and love. I have been awed by his exceptional talent. His exquisite portrayal of the very feeling of his subjects - whatever or whoever that might be, and his use of colours, that give such depth and magnificence to his work. The sheer volume of his work over the years is impressive, as is the wide range of styles and the different mediums he used to such effect. It has touched me deeply to be able to be a part of his life and work in this way.

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