Dame Ethel Walker

The Zone of Love: Decoration


Not on display
Dame Ethel Walker 1861–1951
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2440 x 2440 mm
Presented by the artist 1946

Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Ethel Walker’ b.l.
Canvas, 96 1/2×97 (245×246·5).
Presented by the artist 1946.

Exh: R.A., 1932 (436); International Exhibition, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, October–December 1933 (149, repr. pl.70); Mural Decorative Paintings, Whitechapel Art Gallery, May–June 1935 (25); Wildenstein, November–December 1936 (12); R.A., 1942 (181); N.E.A.C., February–March 1945 (269).
Lit: Mary Chamot, ‘Ethel Walker’ in Apollo, XIII, 1931, p.308; Mary Chamot, Modern Painting in England, 1937, p.63; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 1952, p.84.

The artist stated about 1931 that this idyllic subject had been in her mind as a companion to N05669 for over fifteen years before she felt in the mood to complete it. A watercolour sketch for it was exhibited at the Redfern Gallery, February 1927 (29), and is reproduced in Artwork, III, 1927–8, p.72.

The artist's friend, Miss Grace English, who met her for the first time on 23 December 1931, writes (typescript MS., f.24): 'This picture [i.e. ‘The Zone of Love’] was painted soon after I met her, but I had seen the preliminary sketches and water colour paintings before, in the New English Art Club and other exhibitions. For these sketches she used models in her studio and often used her quick sketch drawings done at the Chelsea Polytechnic evening classes, where she used to go for practice, like other artists. The final large canvases of these decorations were done up in her Robin Hood's Bay cottage, in the lovely light of the Summer months. ... In contrast to “The Zone of Hate”, where the forces of evil are shown destroying the suffering, sinking figure of mankind, “The Zone of Love” is conceived in a lighter key and has a peaceful serene atmosphere. Here also the soul is represented as a young girl just awakening into the celestial sphere. Her guardian angel attends her, and another angel is holding out her heavenly raiment. The landscape is adorned with birds and flowers, and a host of angels is seen in the background.

‘These allegorical paintings were inspired by Ethel Walker's enthusiastic interest in the religious doctrines of Swedenborg and of the East.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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