2017-09-27-2018-06-23 --- 2018-06-23 03:09:35--18
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LOT :38
Camille Souter HRHA (b.1929)
Calary When We Got Back (1964)
Oil on board, 79 x 57cm (31 x 22½'')
Estimate EUR : €10,000.00 - €15,000.00
Auction Date : 27-09-2017


Camille Souter HRHA (b.1929)
Calary When We Got Back (1964)
Oil on board, 79 x 57cm (31 x 22½'')
Signed and dated 1964; inscribed with title verso

Provenance: UTV Art Collection

Exhibited: "The UTV Art Collection" Exhibitions including this work held at: Armagh County Museum, April 2000; O'Rahilly Building, UCC, Cork, March 2002; Fermanagh County Museum, September / October 2003; Monaghan County Museum, March 2004; The Naughton Gallery, Queens University Belfast, January / February 2006
'Towards Abstraction' exhibition, The Highlanes Gallery, Spring 2007.

Literature: 'Camille Souter: The Mirror in the Sea' by Garrett Cormican, full page illustration p.71; 'UTV Art Collection', 2009, illustrated p.53

This painting, Calary When We Came back (1964), begs a number of questions; where had the artist returned from, what might have happened in her absence? The golden glow of light from the field and the comfortable but dreamlike allure of the cottage perched at its summit suggest relief at coming home. Camille Souter does not allow narrative to dominate in her work but this painting combined with the title, which was certainly imposed after its completion, reinforce the idea that this was a welcome return. Compositionally it is very like another very fine painting, Forgotten Island near Venice painted in the same year. Both paintings employ the same compositional elements of high horizon line, repeated vertical lines in the foreground to draw the eye upward and a floating moon above. The palette too is very similar so it would seem as if both paintings emerged from the same stream of consciousness, yet it is the differences that are most telling. The forgotten Adriatic island is barely defined, it has no features other than a blurred landmass and a serried line of bare trees, whereas Calary When We Came Back abounds in suggestions of detail from the wild vegetation in the foreground and the geological striations of the field to the house itself, with the moon emerging from the halo of mist to welcome the family back.

Camille Souter always works in natural light conditions. She believes that artificial lighting distorts colour and asks that audiences be allowed to experience her work in naturally lit galleries. Garret Cormican, her biographer describes her life in Calary, where there was no electricity. Souter would paint from early morning but adamantly refused to work into the afternoon, saying, I like to work from first light until around 3 p.m.. Then I go back in the evening, but the light goes wrong in the afternoon. I hate afternoon light. That uncompromising integrity and discipline in relation to light is evident in every nuance in this painting. Calary was a place of great freedom for Souter and her husband the sculptor, Frank Morris. In an era which also celebrated the work of Jack Yeats, Paul Henry and Patrick Collins, the artist and critic Brian ODoherty described Souter as one of the principal painters in Ireland to develop an atmospheric style of painting.

Lady Angela Antrim, whose name is written on the back of the painting, bought work for Ulster Television, which like RTE built up an art collection in recognition of its role as a visual medium. It goes back to the time when the firm was founded in 1959. The late Theo Snoddy records that when the firm opened in Havelock House on the Ormeau Road in 1959, she told the Earl of Antrim, Chairman of the Board and her husband, Look, youve got to get some pictures on the walls here because the place looks bare. Lady Antrim, an artist herself, clearly recognised quality as this is one of Souters finest works from an exceptionally productive period in her career. Because the early acquisitions were to embellish the building, they were not constrained to purchase Ulster art only, which later became a condition for collecting.

Catherine Marshall
August 2017


Hammer Price : €27,000.00
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