Friday, May 1, 2015


'Music in New York, Homage to Johann Sebastian Bach' (USA, 1946)
by Maxwell Ashby Armfield. 
Tempera on board. 35cm x 42.5cm (13.77" x 16.73") 

Born at Ringwood, England, Maxfield Ashby Armfield (1881-1972) studied at the Birmingham School of Art in 1899 and later at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. Part of a diverse group of artists associated to The Modern British Period, Armfield painted a majority of his works in egg or milk tempera technique. He and his wife, writer Constance Smedley, lived for a period in the United States, with time spent near the coast of California. Armfield was a highly regarded illustrator & painter, deeply involved in theater, music, teaching and writing.

Description of the painting from Peter Nahum Leicester Galleries:

"The strings of the harp echo the extraordinary vertical rhythm of the skyscrapers of New York, and through this visual reverberation, Maxwell Armfield suggests the parallel structures of architecture and music. Just as architecture creates and defines space, music creates and defines sound. More specifically, the painting evokes the structure of counterpoint in a score by Bach, whose music, although diverse, is ordered through the vertical relationships of notes within a scale. Accordingly, Maxwell Armfield includes an inscription on the harp, which reads: diverse parts in ordered harmony. Bach wrote very little for the harp because it was not a professional ensemble instrument until the early Romantic Period, but the key to Maxwell Armfield's depiction of the instrument, with its regular array of vertical strings, becomes apparent when envisaging his visual metaphor."

No comments: