Book will capture lost work of Lancashire artist James Hargreaves Morton
A BOOK on the life and times of Darwen artist James Hargreaves Morton will be launched in April.
The Friends of Darwen Library have spent months tracing his lost works, more than 400 of which were auctioned off 40 years ago.
Morton, who trained in Darwen and then at the Royal College of Art in London, lost his life in the Great War just five days before the Armistice in 1918.
He died in a field just north of the town of Pont-sur-Sambre, France, aged 37.
He left behind more than 400 oils, watercolours, pastels and drawings. His wish was for his work to be kept together but following the death of his last sister Alice, in 1967, her executors found her small house crammed with Morton's work.
Her heir, James Morton, a textile worker and half-cousin of the artist, decided there were too many pictures for him to look after and some went on display in galleries. The whole lot was eventually auctioned, with no record surviving of who bought what.
But the Friends group has managed to trace about 150 of them after a six-month trawl in preparation for the book.
Paintings have been found all over the country, with water colours in York and Cambridge, pastels in the West Country, oils in the Ribble Valley, pen drawings in Manchester and etchings in Lancaster.
A number of paintings have been turned into prints and sold to finance the publication and buy books for the library.
The book will be launched at a coffee morning at the library in Knott Street on April 13 and copies will sell for £10. The book has been edited by Darwen journalist Harold Heys, who has written most of it.
He said: “It started off as a book on James Morton and his work but it has developed into a life-and-times book and will be probably double the size we originally envisaged.
“Many of the photographs are amazing and the book will bring Morton’s legacy to a new generation of Darwen folk.”
Friends group chief John East said: “From what I have seen of the early proofs, it will be bring back a lot of memories. It’s packed with nostalgia and, of course, will have a lot of wonderful pictures.”
Mr East also thanked the Lloyd Trust, the Co-op Community Fund and Herbert Parkinson Ltd for their help with funding the book.