Friday, March 13, 2015

Jessie Boswell, The Three Windows

Jessie Boswell, The Three Windows (The Plain from the Tower), 1924

Jessie Boswell (1881-1956) was an English painter who spent most of her life in Italy.  Born in Leeds, she moved to Turin in 1906, originally to join her sister, Gertrude, who had married an Italian man.  However, she soon fell in with a community of Turin artists.  In 1929 she became a founder of the Turin Group of Six, and its only female member.  The group was an artistic group, as well as a theoretical group, and they were actively opposed to Fascism and Fascist art.  They achieved rapid and widespread success with both their modernist art and ideas, so naturally they were banned in 1931.  Boswell remained in Italy for the rest of her life.  Her work mostly consisted of landscape and interiors, as well as some portraiture and cityscapes.  Some of her most interesting works, such as The Three Windows, explore the relationship of interior and exterior. This painting is fascinating in its balance of presence and absence.  The landscape outside is vast and majestic, but it is viewed through the barrier of this highly spartan room.  With the two chairs facing the windows, there is a strong feeling that someone should be sitting there, and the viewer is left feeling this absence, slightly bereft.  With the subtitle's mention of a tower, there is some suggestion of imprisonment, and that this is the only view of the countryside available to the captive.  Although the views are small, Boswell put great care and detail into the glimpses of the landscape.  She also shows the vastness of the sky beyond this room.  Despite the somewhat cold absence that pervades this interior space, it is important to note that the windows are thrown open, so the breeze and fresh air waft through this tower room, invigorating its occupant, but offering only a small taste of the breadth of the outside world.

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