MICHELLE BENNETT OATES
Bennett Oates was born in London in 1928. He has a broad interest in painting and examples of his portraiture, landscape and animal paintings can be found in many private collections, but it is his flower paintings that have made his reputation.
Now acknowledged as one of the finest artists working in this genre in the world, his draughtsmanship and technique bears comparison with the best of the Dutch School. But, it is his use of the gentler English hues where strong colours are used `jewel-like' in conjunction with white and pastel shades that produce the subtle quality and restrained taste that make his paintings unique.
Those knowledgeable in the English school will notice the influence of Gerald Cooper with whom he studied, after leaving Grammar School, at Wimbledon College of Art. At the age of 15 his first flower painting was accepted at the Royal Academy and he then went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.
It is coincidental that in Great Britain live four or five of the greatest flower painters in the whole of the world painting in a traditional manner in the mid 20th Century. Gerald Cooper became especially well known painting flowers with a direct influence from the finest of the Dutch School of the 18th and 17th Centuries. Cooper was world famous in his lifetime with his contemporaries Cecil Kennedy and Harold Clayton. However, Cooper perhaps became the best known of them all though exhibiting year on year in the Royal Academy often “on the line” and either side of the Royal portrait of the year.
He had an association with E Stacy-Marks Limited that stood some 35-40 years but it was only on the death of Gerald Cooper that Bennett Oates approached E Stacy-Marks Limited having not painted for several years professionally. Bennett Oates had left College and gone into the world of Commerce and for some 20 years had only painted occasionally as a hobby. In about 1970 he began to be unsettled in his world of commerce and approached E Stacy-Marks Limited to take on his work but because he was lacking in practice at this juncture he was very nearly refused. However, he persisted selling his very early works through the company for £150 each. He then managed to take a two year sabbatical from his normal job and went back to work in earnest and during that time improved dramatically and soon began to establish himself as one of the world’s finest traditional flower painters. At his height he was probably able to paint some 15 paintings a year. However, his output has now reduced considerably but he has still managed the quality and beauty of his work. It should be noted that his entire life’s output in flower paintings will almost certainly be less than 400 works. Bennett Oates believes that anything worthwhile in art is founded in craftsmanship and a thorough grasp of technique and striving for hits should be for absolute objectivity. Only with the use of this language can the artist express his magic in his particular medium.
With this in mind, his daughter Michelle Bennett Oates was apprenticed to her father and is now working professionally in the Norfolk Fens as a wildlife artist