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Fred Yates. (1922-2008)

'A Cornish Harbour.', Oil on Canvas.

25x35.5cm Framed. Sold with letter of provenance. SOLD (reference:535)  


Yates said of his painting that he wished to “echo the colours of the fairground”: this work is a glorious exposition of this aim. It is alive with vibrant colour applied in skilful, sculptural strokes and populated by his signature figures, which Yates said he painted to keep him company in an otherwise reclusive life.


Fred Yates was born in a suburb of Manchester and worked in the family Insurance business before being drafted into the Grenadier Guards, aged 19. His twin brother, Arthur, was killed at Arnheim in 1944 and Fred fought with the allied troops who liberated Brussels. Once the war ended, Fred determined to be an artist to escape what he termed, “the tightness, discipline and torture of my childhood”. In 1946, he trained as a teacher specialising in Art. Yates was never happy teaching and in 1969 moved to Fowey, Cornwall, to pursue a career painting. He supported himself by mowing lawns for 50p an hour. Fred Yates was greatly influenced by the Impressionists and believed in painting outside, whatever the weather, everyday. His own measure of whether a painting of his was successful was “If I’d seen that in a shop I’d have bought it”. He always lived alone and moved to the France of Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne, to increasingly remote areas in the mountains of Provence. He died on a return trip to England and is buried in a quiet hillside spot overlooking his beloved St. Michael’s Mount. Fred Yates’ paintings are collected by public institutions and private collectors, as his reputation rapidly increases. Yates is often known as ‘the cheerful Lowry’, his fellow Mancunian.


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