Bone excelled in painting en plein air. He painted in all conditions equipped with a three legged folding wooden stool with a leather seat, a broad brimmed felt hat and, in winter; fingerless woollen mittens.
In the 20s and 30s his small oil panels were appreciated and, at first, sold well enough to encourage galleries to mount more one man shows. His View of Santiago shown at the Ryman’s Galleries in 1927 reminded the Oxford University reviewer of “an early Corot in the freshness and I delicacy of its treatment”. At the Lefevre Gallery in 1932 the Morning Post critic wrote appreciatively ; of his advances in observation and craftsmanship and of his “developing sense of colour and the minor notes of grey, green and the palest gold”. The Manchester Guardian said that “Mr Bone is a singularly modest artist. On looking at his landscapes one always feels that he experienced some rather rare and delicate emotion which he is offering a little diffidently to the spectator”.
The prices of the smaller pictures were seven guineas in the twenties, rising to fourteen guineas at the end of the thirties and twenty one guineas in his show at the Leicester Galleries at the end of 1946, where Stephen sold 22 panels. Then the market changed, modern art was more widely accepted and cheap colour images became available as colour transparencies. Stephen continued to paint but few of his pictures sold, he had to turn to broadcasting and journalism to earn a living.
We are grateful to Sylvester Bone for assistance