Harbour Window with Nude, 1949 by Patrick Heron
Oil on canvas
41 x 51 cm
A gift from the artist to the present owners’ mother on the occasion of her wedding and by descent.
1950, Contemporary Painting, City Art Gallery, Bristol, no.56.
Harbour Window with Nude, 1949 is a major work by Heron and very probably portrays the harbour of St Ives where Heron lived as a child (see a very similar view in the Tate’s Harbour Window with Two Figures: St Ives: July 1960).
While by this stage Heron has developed a distinctly personal style, the influence of the great modern French artists, Picasso, Matisse and Braque is evident.
In 1949, Heron visited Braque in his Paris studio and drew inspiration from his works, taking the abstract separation of descriptive line, which can be seen in the present work in the blue outline of the figure and the fluid white lines of the carpet and picture frame. The blue outline of the figure is reminiscent of the black outlining of Braque’s Bather (1925) which can be found in the collection of Tate.
There are also echoes of Braque’s Cubism in the ambiguous shapes of the table and boats: Heron has broken down the elements of this interior scene into distinct areas or planes, such as the red/orange curtain, emphasising the two-dimensional flatness of the canvas.
In 1943, Heron saw Matisse’s The Red Studio at the Redfern Gallery and was inspired by the colour and compositional structure of the painting. This inspiration can be seen in the present work: the open window, a motif often employed in Matisse’s interior paintings, allowing him to link the internal and external space into a composition structured by patterns and planes of colour. Matisse often included the subject of a young woman in his interior scenes, as Heron has also done here; the woman plays an important role, drawing the viewer into the centre of the composition, framed by the outline of the window and the curve of the curtain. The silvery blues, greys and whites create an atmosphere of light contrasting with the radiant warmth of the curtain and what appears to be a yellow flower.
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