Alan Sorrell – The Art of Mean and Moody

I’m like the cat that got the cream this month because Southend Museums Service has acquired some beautiful new artworks for the Beecroft Art Gallery’s collection.  A recent exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London called ‘Alan Sorrell – A Life Reconstructed’ was a celebration of the Southend artist’s works from murals to archaeological reconstructions. Many of the pictures brought together for this were for sale so we took the opportunity to purchase 7 of the relevant ones to add to our already very strong collection of Sorrell’s works. I find Sorrell’s works very beautiful – the later scenes have a slightly dark and brooding edge which makes them much more appealing than the average landscape.

The Friends of Southend Museums generously contributed half the cost and the rest was made up by the Beecroft Art Gallery’s Art Purchase Fund – a relatively small, and therefore rarely accessed, fund saved for only the most appropriate works for our collections; and Alan Sorrell definitely fits the bill.

Here are a few of the works we got:


The man himself.  I have long wanted one of Alan Sorrell’s brooding self-portraits for our collections and this one is a beauty. It takes a lot of skill to put that amount of character into a few broad brush strokes.


This watercolour of Hadleigh Castle is the earliest work we have by Sorrell and was painted around 1918-20 when he was only about 15 years old. A picture made long before his mature style developed but what a lovely thing!


A squared up preparatory sketch for the 1937 mural, ‘The Arrival of the First Mail Coach in Southend’, which the Museums Service already owns. The mural, along with three others, was originally commissioned for the Central Library (now the Central Museum).  Of course, the gallery is moving to the subsequent Central Library building which is next door to the current Central Museum which used to be the Central Library. Simples!  Sorry, I actually really hate those Meerkats….


This is the Alan Sorrell style that I have come to know and love, a Southend seafront scene painted in the late 1950’s. Sorrell’s no-frills style gives the picture a real ‘unreliable British weather at the seaside’ atmosphere.

All of these pictures and many more will be on display at the new Beecroft Art Gallery in an Alan Sorrell exhibition which opens in November. Don’t miss it!

Until next time,



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