North Lodge View – Melting Snow
circa 1960s, gouache on paper 21" x 15"
Jean Royle produced a series of five landscape paintings as viewed from the window of her home at Newstead Abbey Park, Nottinghamshire during the mid 1960s. She was employed as gatekeeper by the estate and sold tickets to visitors to the Abbey and its grounds, the one-time home of Lord Byron, so whilst painting she was also watching out for visitors. In this second version she has used gouache and poster paint to depict the view when the snow is thawing. leafless trees, full of movement, express the starkness of the wintry scene, whilst the contrasting warm and cold colours combine to give vitality to the painting.
Decades later David Hockney is producing landscape works bearing marked similarities both in subject matter and style. (See thumbnail below). But Jean Royle’s view of the roadway was limited by her employment as gatekeeper and in this case also by the weather. Her five paintings of this view are all from the front room window of the gatehouse in which she lived, and all are set in the wintertime. She had no car, so unlike Hockney was unable to vary her viewpoint or work from within the comfort of a car. Had she been able to, would she have chosen the ‘tunnel’ view as Hockney has below? Probably not; the subject interested her because it offered something of a sense of mystery: we cannot quite see where the road leads but we can just see there is a bridge in the distance, and this sense of not quite seeing is heightened by the dynamic use of the foreground tree.
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.