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Burleigh, Averil Mary

(1883 – 1949)

The Still Room, 1928

Signed with initials 

Tempera on board
19 1/4 x 19 1/4 in. (49 x 49 cm)

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Private Collection

Exhibited: London, Royal Academy Exhibition, (878). 1933; Royal Glasgow Institute, 1933

Harnessing the soft summer light, Burleigh captures the peaceful rhythm

of morning chores. Freshly sliced lemons glisten on the table. The

albarello, emblazoned with a coat of arms, is brightly painted with blues

and yellows. With their thick braided handles fashioned out of tin-glazed

earthenware, the pitchers are painted in contrasting hues. From the

vibrant carpet in the bottom right to the muted grey-blues of the servant’s

clothing, Burleigh utilises colour to avoid fixation on the vibrant red

turban, directing the eye diagonally through the picture. Inevitably, our

gaze rests upon the blonde figure (the artist’s daughter, Veronica, herself a

painter and frequent model for her mother). Veronica’s delicate features,

almond-shaped eyes and high cheekbones reveal modern influences. In the

still room, or pantry, she prepares the morning libations.

A longstanding member of the Society of Painters in Tempera,

Burleigh executed her painting in egg tempera. Building the shadows

from dark to light, Burleigh used delicate brushstrokes to add texture

to the grain of the floor and to the plaster wall with its green and blue

undertones. A gilded and ebonised Cassetta frame with sgraffito scrollwork

adds to the picture’s intimacy. A label affixed to the back indicates the

work of framer James Bourlet & Sons, dated 6 January 1928.

In the summer of 1933, Burleigh exhibited the painting at the Royal

Academy (cat. #878), hung in galleries specifically set aside for displaying

watercolours and temperas, along with her two other submissions. The

1933 exhibition was a family affair – both her husband Charles and

daughter Veronica exhibited works.

Commentary by Abbie N. Sprague, expert on the history of tempera painting and the British Arts and Crafts

Movement. She is currently researching Edward Steichen and his garden at Voulangis.

Labels verso: James Bourlet & Sons, Frame Makers & Packers, 17 & 18 Nassau Street, London, with title, artist’s name, ref. no. 15150 and dated 6th January 1928; together with Royal Academy Exhibition label, dated 1933; Dicksee & Co., Glasgow, dated 1933; T& R Annan & Sons Ltd, 139 West George Street, Glasgow with inscription ”Royal Glasgow Institute, 1933”; and one other inscribed with title, artist’s name, address and numbered ”No. 1”.

Between 1930 and 1935 Burleigh had 17 exhibits at the RA and all are listed as tempera. Either side – from 1912 to 1945 she exhibited regularly at the RA but the medium of her submissions is not noted.

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THE ARTIST

Burleigh, Averil Mary

1883 – 1949

Averil Burleigh studied at Brighton School of Art and married fellow
painter Charles Burleigh (1870’1956) ‘ together they spent much
of their lives in Hove and Sussex. 

She specialised in tempera painting and her work is
characterised by a bright palette underpinned with a bold sense of
graphic design. She often painted decorative renaissance subjects
whilst adding a touch of modernity, through the inclusion of
contemporary clothing. Her compositions are usually dominated
by female figures ‘ often in various states of revelry. She frequently
used her daughter, the artist Veronica Burleigh (1909’1999), as
the central model. She also illustrated many books, including
Thistledown by Leolyn Louise Everett, published in 1927. 

She exhibited extensively throughout her career, including at
the RA, the RSA, the NEAC, with the SWA, the ROI, Walker Art
Gallery and the Paris Salon. She was also a member of the SMDPT
and was elected a member of the RI in 1936 and an associate of the
RWS in 1939.

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