Thank you Liz and Mike Fraser for adopting this artwork.
This striking oil painting by Victoria Crowe comprises two separate scenes: a muted one composed of browns, greens and yellows to suggest late summer and a winter scene comprising blues and whites. The distinction between the two scenes is emphasised by the difference in texture. The summer scene uses smooth brush strokes formed into swirls, creating a halo around the bust in the upper right, whilst the winter scene is composed of harsh strokes. The winter section depicts a bridge in a park, with figures and bare, thin trees barely visible in the snow. The main focal point is the flowers in the foreground standing defiantly against the winter. The autumnal scene demonstrates the influence medieval art has had on Victoria's artwork. It consists of the following series of overlapping panels, representing a number of images:
- An androgynous figure clutching an urn, looking up to Heaven, reminiscent of medieval manuscript art.
- A panel resembling a heraldic set of arms, with a hen or rooster charge upon a vert (green) field.
- A hand reaching down to grasp at a bouquet of flowers. The hand lacks the linear proportion seen in post-Renaissance art.
These panels serve to reinforce the theme of summertime - flowers, farming and the harvest. Above the panels, there is a dark profile of a youthful head, whose classical style and blank eyes suggest a sculpted bust statue. It appears to be feminine, and may represent a queen or goddess - perhaps Persephone, given her mythological links to the passage of the seasons and her usual representation as a young maiden. The background swirls around the head of this figure, emphasising its significance.
This painting is best appreciated up close, in order to make out its details. It takes advantage of the use of oil on canvas to create the impression of age. The muted colour scheme and minimal contrast between dark and light areas makes it seem faded, while imperfections in the oil make it feel cracked.
Victoria Crowe studied at the Kingston School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, before being invited to join the Edinburgh College of Art as a tutor in 1968. She has established herself as one of Scotland's leading painters, described as "one of the most vital and original figurative painters currently at work in Scotland". Her work, which is represented in a large number of public and private collections, covers landscapes, still lifes, portraits, interiors and other works defying precise categorisation. She lives in the Scottish Borders and Venice.