2018-05-30-2019-01-23 --- 2019-01-23 15:47:29--18
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LOT :59
Colin Middleton RHA RUA MBE (1910-1983)
Belfast Street with Children
Oil on canvas, 61 x 51cm (24 x 20'')
Estimate EUR : €18,000.00 - €25,000.00
Auction Date : 30-05-2018


Colin Middleton RHA RUA MBE (1910-1983)
Belfast Street with Children
Oil on canvas, 61 x 51cm (24 x 20'')
Signed and dated 1944

Colin Middleton was born in Belfast and lived and worked there until his mid-thirties. The city was of great significance to him and is, directly or obliquely, at the heart of much of his early painting. As a child, Middleton had enjoyed painting trips around Belfast with his father who, unlike Colin, had been happy to set up his easel and work in the open air. When his father died in 1935, he decided to take over the damask-designing family business and remain in Belfast.

Amongst his first post-impressionist images of his city, which date from the late 1930s, are Children at Play (1939) and Belfast Street Scene (1940). By the middle of the 1940s Middletons paintings of Belfast would have moved away from the gentle nostalgia and empathy that characterised the 1941 street scenes, a number of which were included in his 1943 exhibition at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery. These paintings often seem to be detached from the surrealist or symbolist works that he was engaged on alongside them. On a more personal level, Middleton was still living with his widowed mother in north Belfast by the autumn of 1944, when he moved to Ballyhalbert, with Kathleen, who he had met earlier that year and was to become his second wife. This would close an important chapter of his Belfast years.

Painted in 1944, the present work Belfast Street with Children bears some stylistic similarities with Belfast Street Scene - Children at play(1939) but the figures now seem dislocated from their surroundings and the colours are more muted. Middleton continues with geometric shapes but the buildings have elongated and are closer to Strange Openings (IMMA).

The apparent naivety of manner here in Middletons skillful simplification of form conceals a formidable level of abstraction within the painting. It is not too much of a leap to see signs of Middletons interest in Mondrian in the arrangement of a red square or a repeated blue vertical, within a representational image that still evokes a very definite mood and atmosphere. While there is pathos in the anonymous figures of the woman in a shawl walking away and the two children standing outside what appears to be a bar, there remains in all Middletons paintings of Belfast a strong sense of affection for the life of the city. As an artist he is an observer and an outsider, but he is also a Belfast man.

We are grateful to Dickon Hall, whose writings have formed the basis for this catalogue entry.

Hammer Price : €17,000.00
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