Up until now, my interest in David Bomberg has been from a Vorticist perspective. The Mud Bath is one of my favourite paintings and the fact that he was actually born here in Birmingham in 1891 and lived on Florence Street in Digbeth added to the appeal:
This week I visited the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry without knowing what I would find. Amongst the gems that made the trip so worthwhile was this Bomberg from 1947 called ‘Evening, Cornwall Towards St Ives:
I was staggered by how beautiful this painting was. Luckily, some bright spark put a bench there, so I got to spend some quality time with this work. This is what I put down in my notebook:
“Painted in one sitting so that the wet paint blended together. On the left hand side – glow of orange and reds on the hillside – church spire just off centre draws your eye to the vanishing point, forcing you to look out to sea. Sky and sea blur with no distinct horizon line. Right hand side full of green hillside with fields and their boundaries clearly marked. The glow of the evening sky is warm and inviting.”
Although there were other people in the room, they became very distant as I studied this. It had a distinct tranquility surrounding it and I marvelled at how what seems like a simple landscape was so full of meaning. One of my favourite literary quotes is from Wuthering Heights when Catherine Earnshaw talks of her connection to Heathcliffe and she says “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I do wonder if there is a reason why some paintings resonate with the viewer more than others – is there a connection? This painting certainly had an effect on me and has strengthened my love for Bomberg’s work.
By the end of his life, Bomberg felt that he had been ignored by the art world and that his contribution would be forgotten. At Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is this self portrait from 1937 and, while it has a melancholy air, the final self portrait Bomberg produced takes self-reprentation to its furthest point.