Signed and dated lower right 'JA 44'
Tempera on board
23 1/4 x 31 1/2 in, 59 x 80 cm
John Armstrong was an original member of Unit One. He developed his own idiosyncratic take on Surrealism based on a sense of English romanticism. 'Spring' from 1944 is a fine...
John Armstrong was an original member of Unit One. He developed his own idiosyncratic take on Surrealism based on a sense of English romanticism. 'Spring' from 1944 is a fine example of his highly individualistic mature style, that combined Classical imagery with a modern, organic aesthetic. Both Moore and Armstrong were first inspired by the same ancient, carved figures. 'Spring' points to his more contemplative and allegorical Post-War work, a shift in tone much like that of Moore.
At the heart of 'Spring' is an image of the connection between man and nature. As Moore strove to unite the two in his sculpture, here Armstrong emphasises the harmony of the figures with their pastoral setting. The figures are leaf-life, with their billowing drapery and organic curves, and the careful all-over mosaic-like brushwork gives the painting a quiet unity. Moore no doubt had these works in mind when making his Leaf Figures of the early 50s.
'Spring' comes from a series of paintings begun in 1944. During the war Armstrong had worked as an official war artist, creating images of bomb damage in the cities. However, these new paintings show simultaneously a sense of optimism at the world slowly achieving peace combined with a sense of longing for an idealised bygone era.
Armstrong’s work held in numerous international public collections including the Tate, the Imperial War Museum, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Gallery of Australia, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Pompidou.
Lefevre Gallery, London
Mrs Theodora Done
Private Collection, UK, 1995
London, Lefevre Gallery, Recent Paintings by John Armstrong, Paintings by Sine Mackinnon, July 1945, cat. no.28
David Messum, exh. cat., 1993, cat. no.17
Andrew Lambirth, John Armstrong: The Paintings, 2009, Lund Humphries, cat. no.279, p.182