Vase of Flowers by Gwen John - 1910s - 40 x 32 cm National Library of Wales Vase of Flowers by Gwen John - 1910s - 40 x 32 cm National Library of Wales

Vase of Flowers

oil on board • 40 x 32 cm
  • Gwen John - June 22, 1876 - September 18, 1939 Gwen John 1910s

Gwen John is an internationally acclaimed Welsh artist. She studied in London and, from 1904 onwards, spent most of her time in Paris where she studied at the Whistler’s School and where she modelled and began a passionate affair with the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin.

During her time John was overshadowed by the fame of her younger brother, the artist Augustus John. Towards the end of her life her work began to attract interest, but it is only during the last few decades that there has been a great resurgence in the appreciation of Gwen John’s works. 

This oil on board painting was created in the style of dry painting with an impasto brush in Paris, possibly as her affair with Rodin was ending and after the sudden death of her sister-in law (Ida, the wife of Augustus) in 1907. During this period, encouraged by Rodin, Gwen John made a self-conscious return to painting and created some of her best-known images while at the same time battling with depression and sporadic illness. This was during a period before she became increasingly interested in the Catholic faith.

There is a sense of stillness to this work but also a sense of unease due to the garment that has been flung over a piece of furniture in the background. John’s work is reminiscent of Post-Impressionist painting, due to small brush strokes and close values. John makes bold marks and is expressive in her use of color and tone, without overlooking the lights and darks. This painting is strongly composed and balanced, owing to solid geometric shapes and forms.

I love this vase of flowers!  <3 

P.S. Did you know that Rodin had affairs with more artists? Read the story of Camille Claudel, a talented sculptress overshadowed by her lover.  :(

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