My new favourite painting is: ‘When the West with Evening’ by Joseph Farquharson (1846–1935). It is a beautiful painting. With a gilded gold fashioned frame, which immediately draws ones eye, misled by a sense of extravagance, when in actual fact, its contents is humble and curiously unobtrusive.
It currently lives in Manchester Art gallery. And in the grey and very rainy streets, that is distinguishable of Manchester, it can be a relief to step inside from the dull humdrum of that city, to the warmth and life of the gallery. Much like this painting. It was a welcome reprise for me, to see this simple and strange painting. It evokes a sadness, but a comforting silence at the same time. The snowy pathway stretches out before you, welcoming, assuring you of a way forward.
It depicts a snowy landscape, wreathed in winter snows. The eye is drawn across a pathway through to a horizon of fields. A picket of trees, bare and leafless, lifeless on either side of the path. Freshly laid footprints in the snow lead along the path and under the trees.
Three crows are in the foreground before the footprints. At play, or in idle rest, it is not clear. But they set the scene with a stark contrast between their dark feathers and the light snow. The eye is drawn to their mysterious presence before the growing sun.
The entire painting is heavily glowing from the rising sun from behind the hills in the background. The morning is coming, and it evokes a sense of hope. The dawn is a warm greeting, much like the sign of life from footprints and crows in the foreground, in this otherwise dead and barren world.
You can read the original plaque of the painting here.