Look at some paintings of figure in interiors from different periods and choose two or three that particularly appeal to you. At least one of these should be from the twentieth or twenty-first century. Consider what you think the artists’ intentions are and look at the technical and creative solutions they have brought to the subject.


Paula Rego

Paula Rego, Portuguese artist still living.  I looked at her works via the internet and was particularly struck by the picture called The Family, painted in 1988.


The Family – 1988

The write ups I have read on Paula Rego, talk of magical fairy tale themes and that her work began in a more abstract form and grew to more representational figures over time.  I find her work quite disturbing.  Firstly, there is the strange proportions of the figures, even the adults in the painting are not traditional proportions.  The lighting in this painting is very strongly painted and the pallet uses few colours, but strong tones.  The colours inside are cold, helping with the story have a sinister feel, the only warm colour being outside the window.  Here it appears as if the mother and daughter are “helping the father” undress/dress and a second child watches from the window.  However the facial expressions are sinister on the two girls, the father looks frightened, and the only one with the sort of expression you would expect to see is the mother.  The whole picture has a feel of the females either controlling or gaining revenge on the male/father figure.

MANN, [Sargy] Martin O. H.

1937 – 2015

Watched several documentary pieces on this incredible, determined artist.



Infinity Pool 111

This painting by Sargy Mann struck me firstly by the bold colour.  The figures depicted in colours relevant to their position in the sunlight or shade of he scene.  The orange figure in the direct sunlight looks as if they are burning up.  The two figures with their heads in the shade have much cooler skin tones and the character completely in the shade almost disappears into the shadow that they cast.  As with the Paula Rego the light is portrayed in very strong definition but here the pallet is overall much warmer yet equally limited.

Frederick William Elwell


Elwell, Frederick William, 1870-1958; Winter Sunshine

Elwell, Frederick William; Winter Sunshine; The Cooper Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/winter-sunshine-6878

I found this painting on Artuk.org.  Frederick Elwell was a British artist from Yorkshire who painted interiors, portraits and figurative work in oils.  This particular painting caught my eye due, once again to the treatment of light from a window.  It is sunshine, however the softness with which it is painted gives a quite and calm feel to the picture.  There don’t appear to be any harsh or stark edges anywhere, despite there being plenty of lines in the picture. The figure is relaxed and intent on her knitting, perhaps she’s stolen this time for herself and pulled the chair into the warmth of the sun through the window.

Pierre Bonnard

The Vestibule


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Two children in different rooms.  Perhaps one more in the light than the other.  The whole painting virtually marked in half by the edge of the door.  The colour scheme the same throughout with the major colour being yellow however it doesnt feel hot, but we feel the inner room is colder as there is more blue used in this room.  Soft lines and soft pattern all over no strong delineation.  Another quiet scene to me,  the children not communicating but not for any reason other than the fact that each child appears lost in their own thoughts.