‘Het licht en leven van de Schotse schilder John Henry Lorimer’, is ook de titel van de eerste retrospectieve tentoonstelling in het City Art centre in Edinburgh, Schotland, nog te bezoeken tot zondag 22 maart 2022.
'This, the first retrospective of his work, will explore Lorimer’s art through five key themes: light, identity, family, femininity and home. Interior scenes of elegant Edwardian family life together with light-filled landscapes are the hallmark of this technically gifted, but somewhat forgotten, artist. In 1878 the Lorimer family acquired the lease of Kellie Castle in Fife, and the castle and its grounds became the subject of many of Lorimer’s paintings. The exhibition includes works from public and private collections, the majority of which have not been on public display before.'
At twenty-two, John Henry painted his father’s portrait. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, it received high praise from Sir Frederick Leighton, the president of the Academy, and John Everett Millais, the leading portrait painter of the day. The Times compared it to “the simplicity and understanding of a Moroni,” a review quoted with pride and delight in a letter from Mrs Lorimer's to her daughter Alice.(The art of family-website later vermeld)
Zijn eerste portret was een ‘full-scale’ portret van zijn moeder Hannah. John Henry was toen net negentien. Was vader professor of Public Law aan de universiteit van Edinburgh , -pionier op het gebied van internationaal recht, mensenrechten en vrouwenrechten, ook zijn moeder Hannah, net zoals zijn zus met dezelfde voornaam, was een ontwikkelde vrouw met intense belangstelling voor kunst en cultuur. Op zoek naar gezonde buitenlicht -James had last van astma- kwamen ze bij ‘Kellie Castle’ uit, een bouwval in Fife die in de loop der jaren door de familie werd gerenoveerd (broer Robert was befaamd architect) en in 1948 familie-eigendom werd. Het zou het decor zijn voor de belangrijkste werken van John Henry, de plaats van een intens familieleven. Hieronder de eerder stoere buitenkant, een werk van John Henry. Als je het schilderij vergelijkt met een een actuele foto worden de echte proporties zichtbaar.
Lorimer’s family and friends were important to him and often appeared in his paintings. His older sister Hannah, known as Lorrie, sat for several of his paintings, including a double portrait. The artist’s parents and his youngest brother, Robert, were the focus of Lorimer’s early portraits. Mother’s, sisters and nieces were not the only important female figures in the artist’s life. The family nanny and housemaids were important, too. This importance can be seen in paintings such as Housework’s Aureole (1916). In this painting, a housemaid quietly sweeps an upper landing area with an unseen window casting light on the wall beside her. The radiant glow cast by the window lends a sacred feel to an otherwise secular scene, and housework takes on new importance.
En in diezelfde betovering van licht en schaduw zijn meest befaamde werk, het lievelingsschilderij van vele Schotten: ‘The flight of the swallows’ (C. 1906) Je zou die flight ook als ‘vertrek’ kunnen interpreteren, einde van de zomer. De weemoed van het voorbije. De kamer waarin dit beroemde schilderij naar verwijst was deze:
En eens gevuld met zus en kinderen werd het dit mooie werk:
The group of four figures in the room is observing the birds gathering together and one little girl takes their inminent departure so much to heart that she weeps. This may seem sentimentally excessive to us today, but life in the countryside has special values and interests which should not be underrated. In fact the swallows were always a matter at Kellie. The nests can be seen in the corners above the window in "Flight of the Swallows". Admittedly, however, the sentiment of the girl weeping is something which the 'Glasgow Boys', for example, would have avoided in their work. of concern to the family. At one point Mrs. Lorimer writes that external painting of the windows had been rushed on in order to be finished before the swallows arrived, and Lorimer frequently featured the birds' nests in his many watercolour pictures depicting windows painting is one of Lorimer's most beautiful in terms of glows with the golden light of the afternoon sunshine coming into the The light and shade and colour. The left side of the small turret room spectator's back, from where it is room from the window at thereflected on to the high polish of the floor and creamy white decor of the centrally placed window which we do see allows in the charming walls; to the right the roan is in shade. The large turquoise colour of the roof tiles which reflects on the window seat and floor and acts as a foil to the pale decor and white of the apparel. The various elements of light reflections, delicate colourings, the old Castle setting, and the white clad feminine female figures, are all quintessentially Lorimer.
This painting, embodying all five of the curatorial themes, acts as an anchor of sorts for the exhibition and is thought to have been inspired by the departure of Lorimer’s sister Alice from Kellie Castle one autumn. After a summer at Kellie Castle, Alice and her children, like swallows, would have made a September voyage south from Scotland, returning to Guyana where her husband lived and worked. It might be brimming with sentimentality, but it is also overflowing with the artist’s love for his sister and her children. His heartache at their imminent departure from Kellie is palpable in the light and shadow that enfolds their figures in this painting. All dressed in white, the figures almost seem to float, their ethereal presence illuminated by the window, and its reflection.
In een volgende aflevering de tover van het maanlicht in de lente, de familieband, de eenzaamheid van de kunstenaar , de nieuwe tijden. Maar het prachtige licht in de zuidelijke kamer mag best al in deze donkere dagen schijnen.