This work by the Irish artist Sir John Lavery is in the Ulster Museum in Belfast. A curious museum in the capital of Northern Ireland with a most varied collection. There we can see from paleontological remains to the longest tapestry in the world made recently for the television series Game of Thrones which has been recorded in a large part in Irish territory.
Light coming in through my studio window by John Lavery
In addition to that, in the museum there is an important historical collection that includes elements such as the treasure found in one of the ships of the Invincible Armada that was shipwrecked near this coast. And of course, the Ulster Museum is a good place to learn about the history of Irish art.
This section includes the set of works by John Lavery (1856 – 1941), an artist who donated more than thirty works to the museum during his lifetime two reasons. Firstly because he was born in Belfast, and secondly because his city had been concerned with building an art gallery but had so few works to exhibit.
Among those works is this large canvas titled Daylight raid from my studio window. A painting that has a sub title that gives us the key to understanding that image. That sub title is “July 7, 1917.”
By that datewe know that the painting represents Lavery's studio in London, and we also know that it takes us back to a day in the British capital during the First World War.
That is to say, he is presenting us with a scene that is the complete opposite of the bombings that London was suffering at the time. We see a large work studio illuminated by powerful natural light. But nevertheless, the note of panic is put by the girl we see from behind. A girl who looks out the huge window and seems to wonder what the day will bring.
Definitely a most elegant reference to war. Actually, as elegant as everything that this painter who achieved enormous success in his time did. Especially as a portraitist, since all the British aristocracy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries posed for him. The powerful people of the time were enchanted by those portraits in which Lavery manifests himself as a good follower of Impressionism, and especially of artists such as Whistler.
But in addition to his mastery of art, Lavery was also a highly respected character for his social and political attitudes, in fact he came to participate very actively in the talks that led to peace between Ireland and Great Britain in 1921.