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Davison, Gladys

(1849 – 1922)

The Window, circa 1910

Oil on canvas

Signed

11 ¬Ω x 9 in. (29.2 x 22.8 cm)

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Private Collection

The Window by Gladys Davison is more complex than its simple title

suggests. Though most representational paintings are compositionally

contained, here the glazing bars continue beyond the edge of the canvas,

allowing Davison’s depiction to break free of the picture plane and to

evoke a world beyond. It’s a device that raises immediate questions:

what is the rest of this room like? Is it cosy or austere? A garret studio or

a smart family home? Does Davison always work here, high above the

chimneys overlooking south west London?

Davison herself remains somewhat enigmatic, too. Google tells she

was a portrait painter who showed with the NEAC and at the RA. So

unlike many talented women artists, Davison was actually able to follow

her calling. That makes her rather rare and begs another question: why is

she now so little known? What can be said with certainty is that she was a

pupil of Sickert and the picture’s subject and tone ‚Äì a bird’s-eye view over

tall town houses in sludgy colours – is very much to his taste. The use of

impasto is characteristic too, though in Davison’s assured hands it is light

rather than laboured, the sky alive with clouds lit from behind and the

houses touched with pink and blue, and brickwork made up of flecks of

ochre.

I’ve yet to make the pilgrimage to 48 Lupus Street, where an old label

on the back of the picture records it was made. Now it’s moved further

north of the Thames and hangs in the top room of our nineteenthcentury

house next to an almost identical real window that overlooks

rooftops and trees. And here at least there’s no conundrum: I just like the

two together. The real and the virtual, side by side.

Commentary by Rupert Thomas, Editor of The World of Interiors.

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THE ARTIST

Davison, Gladys

1849 – 1922

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