N05036 ALLEGORY c. 1924
Tempera on canvas, 109 1/2×49 1/2 (278·5×125·5), plus painted border of about 1 1/2 (3·75) at sides, 1 1/8 (2·75) at top and 7/8 (2·25) below.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1939.
Coll: Purchased by the C.A.S. 1925.
Exh: (?) N.E.A.C., June 1924 (112), as ‘Figures in Landscape’; Autumn Exhibition, Brighton, 1927 (16); Re-opening Exhibition, Liverpool, October–December 1933 (192); Aberdeen Artists' Society, 1935 (296); British Council, Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg, 1936 (558); C.A.S. Exhibition, Bath, March–April 1938 (26).
Repr: C.A.S. Report 1925, 1926, p.5.
The painting, which is unfinished, was executed at the British School at Rome when the artist was there as a Rome Scholar, 1923–6. The landscape background was based on sketches made around Piediluco, between Terni and Rieti. The artist wrote of the subject, ‘The idea is a bit complex and was based on the story of the Garden of Eden, but rather a personal interpretation of it’ (letter of 17 May 1953). When pressed to elaborate this he replied: ‘I am no more able to explain its exact meaning now than I was at the time when I painted it. The whole design certainly had a very particular meaning and purpose and was an attempt to express in pictorial form my attitude to life - almost my faith’ (letter of 8 July 1957).
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II