Nocturne

The word Nocturne has its origins in the ecclesiastical Latin nocturnum, ‘of the night’. Artists throughout the ages have been attracted to the challenge of depicting light and dark, both for the dramatic effects it offers, but also as an opportunity for showing their technical skills in controlling tone. Nocturns can be representative of great calm as well as havoc – and the subject taps into a rich narrative tradition or intrigue, romance, war and peace. Frederick Austin’s Sleeping Woman was created on the return voyage of Austin’s honeymoon. His wife, the newly-wed Phyllis Austin (Kneafcy), a Canadian Opera singer, is shown sleeping in the cabin of the Cunard ship on which they sailed from Canada in 1932. A box of her favourite Laura Secord Candies can be seen on the bedside table. Claude Francis Barry’s work: The Heart of the Empire: Our Finest Hour, 1940 is less well known than it should be –  a magnum opus, which dramatically depicts Christopher Wren’s great St Paul’s Cathedral, standing in defiance of the Nazi onslaught taking place. Night after night, from September 1940 until May 1941, London was bombed every day and night, bar one, for 11 weeks. One third of London was destroyed. In an image which might be easily linked to this same context Robert Austin’s Evening, 1939 shows a woman praying at the bottom of her staircase. A composition, which evolves around a solitary figure enveloped by shadows and silence, conveying a sense of mystery, perhaps the last moment of peace before 6 years of horror. The metaphysical side of night – with its romantic and spiritual associations – is explored  in Clare Leighton’s In the Beginning, and Hubert Arthur Finney’s timeless Venus. A more domestic and clearly dated scene, though one no less intriguing, shows Edward Halliday’s two children watching Children’s Hour in the late 1940’s. And Bliss’s humorous Things that go bump in the Night, May 1931 ends the selection with a wonderful evocation of interrupted sleep.

Works FEATURED in this Exhibition

Private
Collection
Claude Francis Barry
Elizabeth Castle at Sunset, 1945
Barnett Freedman
Night, c. 1931
£2,950.00
Charles Pears
Nocturne: A Ship and a Tug Boat
£18,750.00
Sold
Rachel Reckitt
Chance Encounter
On Loan
Hubert Arthur Finney
Venus, circa 1950
Sold
Clare Leighton
In the Beginning, BPL 716 1955
Sold
Barnett Freedman
East end of London, night time street scene, late 1920’s
Private
Collection
Edward Halliday
Children’s Hour, late 1940’s
Forthcoming
Douglas Percy Bliss
Things that go bump in the Night, May 1931
Sold
Hubert Arthur Finney
Theatre Royal Haymarket by Night, circa 1955
Frederick Austin
Sleeping Woman (Cunard Line ), 1932
£8,800.00
Private
Collection
Claude Francis Barry
The Heart of the Empire: Our Finest Hour, 1940