colliery and cornfield

Evening at Newstead Colliery

circa 1960s, oil on board 16" X 12"

Jean Royle made this landscape painting at Newstead Colliery in Nottinghamshire in the early 1960s. She has captured the atmosphere of midlands industry set against the rural landscape and illuminated sky. A ripening cornfield forms the foreground.   The dark slag heaps with the pylon to the right, and the colliery compound stretching out to the left, terminated by the dark telegraph pole, indicate man’s encroachment into nature.  The rusty iron fence has some affinity with these features, as it contains the cornfield, also of man’s making, but a living, growing feature, vigorously expressed in textural fashion by the brushwork and combinations of variable yellows, greens and rusty hues. The distant dots of lights from the pit complex stare out at us from across the swaying corn. When we compare this work with that of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunset, Wheatfield Near Arles’ we can see immediately the resemblances: a composition in which two thirds are devoted to the textural quality of the field itself, set against an industrial backdrop, with an evening sky. But Jean Royle’s composition adds an extra dimension by bringing the viewer in closer proximity to the organic landscape with the introduction of the rusting metal fencing in the extreme foreground.


Vincent van Gogh