Dod Procter, 'Morning' 1926

Dod Procter
Morning 1926
Oil on canvas
support: 762 x 1524 mm frame: 1072 x 1832 x 73 mm
Presented by the Daily Mail 1927© Tate

I’ve experienced daylight saving twice this spring; first in the US a couple of weeks ago and again in the UK this weekend.

British Summer Time is a great name for the change that pushes our clocks one hour forward from Greenwich Mean Time – better maybe even than the first day of spring for anticipating warm days – but I can’t help having slightly mixed feelings about daylight saving. Of course I look forward to the longer, lighter evenings, but I find the first week of mornings almost unbearable. A lost morning hour (read “hour in bed”) is a killer for me.

Perhaps that’s the reason Dod Procter’s Morning has been jumping out at me this week. Morning was extremely popular in its day – voted Picture of the Year at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1927, and subsequently bought for the nation by the Daily Mail newspaper, making Procter a household name. It was such a favourite that it was first shown in New York and then displayed across Britain on a two-year tour.

Procter was born Doris Shaw in 1892 in London, but lived most of her later life in Newlyn, Cornwall where she had studied art in her teens and met fellow student and future husband Ernest Procter. From 1922 Dod Procter had begun to paint portraits of young women that she knew, and the girl that posed for Morning was sixteen-year-old Cissie Barnes, daughter of a Newlyn fisherman.

The light falling on the dozing girl does seem to be that specific morning light – not streaming but slipping in, reminding your body clock it’s time to get up. Modelled by the light, Cissie Barnes’ serene form somehow makes the yearning for an extra hour in bed better, by showing us that at least someone is having a little lie-in.