The Black Mill, Winchelsea

The Black Mill, Winchelsea by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA RWS PRBA HRSA, 1867-1956. Lithograph. Source: Sparrow, Frank Brangwyn and His Work, facing 188.

Commentary by Walter Shaw Sparrow

A windmill in art, however fine as a line etching or as a pamtmg, does not attract me fully unless I am made to feel around it the pressure of wind and the spacious firmament of air. Rembrandt's etching brings a charming old windmill too near to us; it needs the concordant and seductive romance with which his oil-painting of a windmill is environed and saturated. Brangwyn has no idler among his few windmills, and he turns their poetry into epics. Here is the Black Windmill at Winchelsea (No. 135), toned and glorified by sunset during a fine harvest season, with two groups of tired harvesters plodding across a pleasant foreground towards wooden rails on our right, which climb picturesquely up the mound to the great mill. On our left, beyond the semicircular mound, is a distant view of Winchelsea Flats, with a cornfield in cocks. A boy climbs the mound, his body standing up sharp against the sky. Boys will be boys, of course, but this lad is a trespasser in art, and I should like to see him displaced by a flock of homing birds, whose presence at different planes of the sky would increase the vast depth of space very finely suggested by a radiating sunset with clouds enough to keep us very near to a fanning wind. As for the windmill itself, we see it in a side view, with three of its great vanes; and the radiance of sunset is all around its bulk, causing it to look almost spectral, almost translucent. [102]

Formatting and text by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit Internet Archive and the Ontario College of Art and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Sparrow, Walter Shaw. Frank Brangwyn and His Work. New York: Dana Estes, 1911. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Ontario College of Art. Web. 1 January 2013.

Last modified 1 January 2013