Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sleeping Venus: The Sleeping Beauty by Bernard Hall

 The Sleeping Beauty (1910)

Lindsay Bernard Hall (1859-1935) was born in Liverpool but found his greatest fame in Australia where the nudes in this post were painted.  Hall came from an affluent back ground and went to school at Kensington Grammar and Cheltenham College.  Although he was also very musical he decided to study art; enlisting for four years at the School of Design in Kensington.  There he studied under the French-trained Edward Poynter who emphasised nude studies as part of his training methods.

The Glass Bottle (1929)

Hall chose to travel to the continent as well to further his studies but rather than go to Paris he worked in Antwerp, where he developed an interest in graphics through studying with Charles Verlat, and in Munich where he studied under Professor Ludwig von Loefftz and Karl von Piloty.

Nude Reading at a Studio Fire (1928)

He returned to London in 1882 and the following year he had his first work accepted to the Royal Academy.  Apart from portraits and genre works he also produced a lot of black and white illustrations.  In 1891 he applied for the job of Director of the National Gallery of Victoria and Head of the Art School on the death of the previous director, George Frederick Folingsby who had also, co-incidentally studied under Piloty in Munich.  

Seated Nude by the Fire

He arrived in Melbourne early in 1892 and, not without initial controversy, set about sorting out the gallery's purchasing policy; buying major works by Turner,  Pissaro and Rodin on a trip back to Europe in 1905.

Despair or The Suicide (c. 1916)

Not surprisingly, given that they both studied under Piloty, Hall didn't change his predecessor's espousal of the Munich system, which involved working out from adark background and the judicious employment of silvery highlights.  These techniques are marvellously displayed in The Suicide.  One of its owners was so disturbed by the painting that he changed the name to Despair.  The artist left no clue as to the story behind the painting but it has been supposed that she is, perhaps, a high class courtesan overwhelmed despit the signs of obvious wealth on display, by her shameless lifestyle.  Whatever, unlike the other nudes in this post which are very much of the model in the studio type, this is a very sensuous and abandoned pose.

Bernard Hall in his studio

Hall married in 1894 but his wife died in childbirth in 1901.  He re-married in 1912 to a 27 year old nurse (he was 53 at the time) and they had another son and a daughter.  Although his roles at the gallery left him much less time for painting he continued to work on and exhibit, with the Victoria Arts Society, nudes, interiors and still life pictures.

The Sleeping Beauty is a conventional nude studio picture but Hall's handling of the model's body and the various fabrics on display is marvellous.  The darker background frames the girl's luminous body in a splendid example of Hall's Munich-influenced style.  This picture was sold for nearly $28,000 in 2005, which seems a bargain!

He died in London in 1935 during another buying trip for the Felton Bequest, set up by businessman Alfred Felton  who left half of his estate (£378,000 - an enormous sum in 1904) to purchase works for the National Gallery of Victoria.

No comments:

Post a Comment