Dance of Life (1899-1900) is generally regarded as one of Munch’s major paintings, and most of the literature refer to it and briefly analyse it, not always accurately. There has been only one thorough examination (Müller-Westermann, Munch by Himself, Chapter 3). This essay will carefully examine the 1899-1900 painting as well as the preliminary 1898 sketch and Munch’s 1925 copy. It will find that Dance of Life is a personal statement on marriage—an interpretation that hasn’t been made before.
Painter, potter, sculptor, engraver, Adrian Allinson (1890-1959) worked consistently from 1913 to the end of World War 2.Fortunate to have support from a wealthy family, he was able to travel extensively in Europe, leaving behind many works from the Mediterranean. Today, a few of his paintings can be found in UK art galleries and museums. He still has some reputation in the art community but is not ranked at the highest levels. Since his death in 1959, only one exhibition of his work has been held—by the Fine Art Society in 1984. His unpublished autobiography, A Painter’s Pilgrimage, remains unpublished in the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa.
Specialists in 20th century British art will be surprised to learn that there are eleven works of Adrian Allinson (1890-1959) located on the other side of the world in Victoria, British Columbia. How these works crossed the Atlantic and the North American continent some 35 years ago is a complicated story that involves marriages, deaths and emigration and that concerns British, Canadian, Pakistani and Cypriot citizens. On the death of her sister Mollie in 1983, Peggy Mitchell-Smith was bequeathed a large number of Adrian Allinson canvases. Mollie had been safeguarding the canvasses since the death of the artist, her longtime partner, in 1959. As executor for her sister’s will, Peggy decided to sell the canvasses through her lawyer. But first she invited some friends to look through the collection and to make offers through the lawyer.
Like Eric Ravilious, I was captivated by the South Downs of Sussex from an early age. He grew up in Eastbourne and knew the most eastern Downs, whereas I grew up in mid-Sussex and knew the downs from Ditchling Beacon to Chanctonbury Ring. But I spent my teens at school in Eastbourne, so I also got to know the Downs that Ravilious loved. It was not surprising, therefore, that his watercolours of the South Downs had a huge impact when I first saw them. They were quite different from watercolours I had seen before. I instinctively liked them but couldn’t say why. So I decided to see if I could put into words why I find these paintings so successful—a difficult task as I soon found out.
Quite a discovery! I first came across Atkinson Grimshaw in Alexandra Harris’s book Weatherland. She devotes a full page to this obscure English painter and includes one example of his work, Liverpool Docks from Wapping. This page is part of a section entitled “Varieties of Gloom,” which explores how some Victorian artists were interested in darkness. Harris admits that “darkness as an aesthetic choice…is a strange phenomenon,” but she finds several artists who depict dark scenes. She ties the phenomenon in with the Victorian predilection for autumn.