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Painting with Light

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC 4 TV series The Art of Scandinavia. It’s over now but you can still catch it on the iPlayer.

I hadn’t heard of a lot of the artists but there were some great landscapes in the Norway episode.

The painting which struck me most however was by a Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi. It’s called Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams. I found an illustration on the net on this page and I reproduce it below.

Dust Motes: Vilhelm Hammershøi

A stunning depiction of light, I hope you’ll agree.

In its use of the qualities of light I was immediately reminded of John Henry Lorimer’s Spring Moonlight, which I blogged about here.

As well as Spring Moonlight, which I forgot to mention in the previous post about it is a huge canvas, Kirkcaldy Art Gallery also has on display at the moment two further Lorimer pieces of more normal dimensions, Sundown in Spring, Kellie Castle:-

Sundown in Spring, Kellie Castle: Lorimer

and View of Kellie Castle:-

View of Kellie Castle

both of which exemplify Lorimer’s distinctive style. The pictures are taken from Art UK which is the successor site to BBC’s Your Paintings.

Kellie Castle was the home of the Lorimer family and is worth a visit if you’re ever over in the East of Fife.

Wandering Light

I posted about my favourite painting in Kirkcaldy Art Gallery, Spring Moonlight by John Henry Lorimer, a while back. One of the things that makes it so effective is the way that light seems to shine out of the two table lamps depicted.

Well, I was in Edinburgh last week and to kill some time visited the Scottish National Gallery and in their Scottish section (for some reason tucked away in a basement at the back) and saw another painting that captures light wonderfully well, Wandering Shadows by Peter Graham.

Once again the reproduction here (from BBC Your Paintings) doesn’t do the painting justice but in the gallery the patches of light on the hill on the left were incredibly realistic.

Wandering Shadows by Peter Graham:-

Wandering Shadows

The People’s Pick and John Henry Lorimer

Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery has a very good collection of paintings, many of them donated by Michael Portillo’s grandfather on his mother’s side, John W Blyth (his father was a Republican refugee from the Spanish Civil War.)

The Gallery’s pictures include quite a few by the Scottish Colourists particularly S J Peploe but also J D Fergusson, the wonderfully named Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and Leslie Hunter. These counterpart earlier paintings by William MacTaggart and later ones including some by the mysteriously popular Jack Vettriano (sub-Hopper cartoonish efforts though they may be.)

My favourite however has always been Spring Moonlight by John Henry Lorimer, painted in 1896.

Spring Moonlight

The above is not a very good reproduction; it doesn’t reflect the quality of his depiction of light. Lorimer’s faces aren’t the best but he captures the swirl of the woman’s gown very well and in the flesh so to speak you could swear that the canvas contains two yellow sources of illumination emanating from the table lamps. It is a startling effect and the artist’s style is distinctive – even if it doesn’t come through so strongly in his portraits. On visiting Kellie Castle last summer I immediately recognised the painting below as being by the same hand.

Sunlight in the South Room

Both pictures from BBC Your Paintings

The Museum and Art Gallery reopened in June after refurbishment. Its first exhibition was The People’s Pick – paintings from the collection as voted for by readers of the local newspaper The Fife Free Press.

When I was going round I was dreading the revelation of the most popular painting fearing it might be a Vettriano.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered No. 1. was….

Spring Moonlight by John Henry Lorimer!

My taste in art is obviously less highbrow than I might have hoped.

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