Still life (with Cherries), 1958
oil on board
8 x 12 in
20.3 x 30.5 cm
20.3 x 30.5 cm
signed and dated lower right; titled on label attached verso
This painting shows Armstrong's earlier career as a theatre designer, with its subjects arranged on a window sill as if actors in a play; the leaf and muntin, painted in...
This painting shows Armstrong's earlier career as a theatre designer, with its subjects arranged on a window sill as if actors in a play; the leaf and muntin, painted in a similar tone of green, act as a mid-ground to the autumnal trees outside the Artist's London home. Painted after Armstrong had returned to the city from Lamorna, Cornwall, as a struggling artist, models were too expensive and so he resorted to using fruits and vegetables from his local market. A natural variety of colours, with three bright red cherries at the lower centre, gives the painting a vivacity and energy that is furthered by the distinctive brick-like pattern of Armstrong's brushstrokes. The dark under-painting and the half-eaten, cut or rotting state of the food may be a comment on the Cold War, as the Artist exhibited this work at the RA alongside his view of post-nuclear fallout, 'Victory' (1958). The uncanny, dreamy feeling of this work, typical of Armstrong's work from the 1930s, transforms his everyday objects into potent surreal subjects.
ProvenancePrivate Collection, UK
ExhibitionsLondon, Royal Academy, 'Summer Exhibition', 1973, no.916, as Still Life
LiteratureLambirth, Andrew, 'John Armstrong, The Paintings', London: Philip Wilson, 2009, p.217, cat.644