Sir George Clausen, R.A. 1852 - 1944
Interior of an Old Barn
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
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Interior of an Old Barn, 1908
Oil on canvas, 916 X 766 X 25 mm
Diploma Work given by Sir George Clausen, R.A., accepted 1908
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Barn and stable interiors appear in Clausen’s sketchbooks as early as 1884, but it was not until 1897 that the first in a long series of such subjects was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Titled The Old Barn (untraced), it similarly contrasted a farmer leaning on a stick in the middle distance with a man working in the background. Clausen’s Diploma work was admired by contemporary critics for its atmospheric lighting. The chiaroscuro is pronounced, with the nearest figure seen only in silhouette. Perhaps influenced by his work in pastels, the painting is highly coloured, with light entering the barn from both the side and the rear, and blue highlights showing on the man and ground. The brushwork is free and uninhibited.
By 1908 Clausen no longer lived in the countryside but would regularly spend several weeks at a time sketching around Clavering in Essex. Often, as in this painting the figurative element in his work lessened, perhaps because he no longer had the opportunities to observe labourers at work all year round. A sketch in the Royal Academy collection shows that Clausen was particularly concerned with the pose of the man leaning on a stick. When the painting was first exhibited reviewers appeared to agree that Clausen’s Diploma work was a worthy variation on one of his favourite themes. The Art Journal noted that ‘Mr Clausen is no stranger to studies of this kind: but he introduces a deeper note.’

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