Saturday, November 13, 2010

Object of the Day: An Unusual English Landscape on a Wooden Panel

Though not signed by the artist, this landscape painting is dated “1793.” The scene appears to be English with its stately trees and charming chapel. At first glance, the composition seems a bit gloomy, however, on closer examination, it’s really quite a hopeful scene. It’s a portrait of change—as one season fades, another will begin and soon the same fields will be green. This theme is reinforced by the lighting—the amber glow of a sunrise.

What makes this painting so unusual is the fact that it’s painted on a rather thick plank of wood which is beveled and finished with a raised panel on the reverse. This piece of wood clearly was a cabinet door at one point in its life. For whatever reason, this door was used for this painting. Given the thickness of the wood and the heftiness of the frame, this piece weighs quite a but more than most paintings. Presently, it’s hanging from four hooks.

This is one of those objects which makes you wonder. What happened to the piece of furniture to which that door belonged? Why use a door as a “canvas”? Who was the artist? These are questions that will never be answered. However, the mystery is part of its appeal.

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