a dramatic composition for a landscape

Cornfield in Nottinghamshire

circa 1990s, oil on canvas 16" X 12"

Jean Royle made this landscape painting in oils on canvas in the early 1990s. It was the last painting she ever did before becoming ill with Alzheimer’s disease and depicts the Nottinghamshire landscape local to her home. The composition is dramatic with two thirds of the canvas used solely to depict the cornfield. She has experimented in the foreground with the impasto technique to create the textures of the cornfield.  There is wonderful movement expressed with the impasto technique, and with the variations of yellows and oranges lighting up two thirds of the composition.  The bright, hot reds of the background buildings take the temperature even higher, with the trees thrown into silhouette against the distant blue landscape.  The sky is indicating a storm is imminent, creating the vividness of the warm colours in this work.

Jean Royle was a landscape artist who always lived in the shadow of her father’s ability and achievements. He ensured she had an art training believing she had the potential to become, like him, a talented landscape artist. She fulfilled this but did not receive the recognition for her abilities in her life time.

Perhaps it is significant that this was the last painting Jean Royle ever did; the threatening storm  could be interpreted as the insidious onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also significant that her last painting should be of a cornfield, a subject which in the past had had the effect of encouraging her back to painting after years of impoverished living, and the demands of bringing up three children in primitive cottages in East Anglia with no security of tenure. In this study we see her life has come full circle: once again the harvest is ready, and awaits the reaper.