You are probably familiar with the finished painting, it’s been in the Walker for over 100 years and is one of the first things you see when you enter the gallery at the top of the stairs. It’s good to see this original study alongside a watercolour painting and you’ll notice straight away that in the final large oil painting the image is inversed. I wonder why. There are several other tweeks to the composition, there must have been more sketches but who knows where they are now?
NML has over 11,000 drawings in their collection and are starting to place more of them around the galleries so that visitors can see more of the process involved in producing all these masterpieces.
Albert Moore’s Study for A Summer Night
New acquisition for the Walker Art Gallery
As the end of the British summer approaches Study for A Summer Night, an exquisite drawing by English painter Albert Moore (1841-93), goes on display for the first time at the Walker Art Gallery from 13 October to 10 December 2010.
The drawing, acquired for the gallery with assistance from the Art Fund charity, is reunited with an accompanying preparatory watercolour and the final oil painting, both from the gallery’s permanent collection.
Seen together for the first time all three give a fascinating insight into Moore’s working methods and his constant experimentation. The drawing was the earliest in the series (1884-6), followed by the watercolour (1890) with the final oil finished and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1890. Moore laid down the ideas in the initial sketch and used the watercolour to mark up a grid so that he could size up the study to oil painting dimensions.
The works reveal Moore made several changes to the composition, but that the vivid colours remained constant: primrose yellow and nocturnal blue. As a renowned member of the Aesthetic movement, in which artists sought to combine colour and mood in harmonious unity, Moore’s intention in A Summer Night was to ‘please the senses’.
Pat Hardy, the Walker Art Gallery’s curator of works on paper says: “The drawing is a delicate and lovely work which will shed light on the working method of this interesting artist. We are extremely grateful to the Art Fund for their help in acquiring the drawing, which will join our important collection of works on paper.”
The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for works of art. The Fund gave £5,000 to help the Walker purchase the drawing in 2009.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “This is a wonderfully atmospheric drawing, full of life and movement.
“We’re thrilled that the set of three works is now complete, and that this drawing can now be admired alongside the watercolour sketch and final painting.”
The oil painting A Summer Night was bought by Liverpool Council in 1890, which obtained it when the original purchaser backed out. Businessman Sir Russell-Cotes had planned to display it in the reception of his large hotel in Bournemouth but his wife objected to the nudes.
The painting is very decorative and full of detail. The composition was inspired by Greek culture, particularly the Portland Vase from the British Museum. Other works by Moore on display at the Walker Art Gallery – Shells 1874 and The Shulamite 1864-66 – also demonstrate the classical Greek influence on Moore’s art.
The Art Fund recently helped the Walker Art Gallery purchase Keith Coventry’s Spectrum Jesus. The vivid painting is this year’s winner of the prestigious John Moores painting prize, announced on 16 September.