Painted in the winter of 1942, this atmospheric composition has recently been identified as an interior view of the threshing barn at Charleston. Upon a similarly sized and scaled canvas he utilised for full length nudes, Duncan has been able to capture its impressive perpendicular scale and subdued tonal drama. The vigorously applied warm earth colours are relieved by the piercing yellow light in a way reminiscent of old master depictions of nativity scenes.

The present work is one of the larger paintings of this type of subject undertaken by Duncan during the Second World War and allows a revealing glimpse into the more confined life at Charleston farmhouse during the wartime years. The barns were an omnipresent source of artistic subject matter that required no travel. Duncan and Vanessa responded profoundly to the continuity of these ancient vernacular structures – their honesty of design, the quality of building materials, and unashamed functionality.

The threshing barn stands adjacent to the...

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Painted in the winter of 1942, this atmospheric composition has recently been identified as an interior view of the threshing barn at Charleston. Upon a similarly sized and scaled canvas he utilised for full length nudes, Duncan has been able to capture its impressive perpendicular scale and subdued tonal drama. The vigorously applied warm earth colours are relieved by the piercing yellow light in a way reminiscent of old master depictions of nativity scenes.

The present work is one of the larger paintings of this type of subject undertaken by Duncan during the Second World War and allows a revealing glimpse into the more confined life at Charleston farmhouse during the wartime years. The barns were an omnipresent source of artistic subject matter that required no travel. Duncan and Vanessa responded profoundly to the continuity of these ancient vernacular structures – their honesty of design, the quality of building materials, and unashamed functionality.

The threshing barn stands adjacent to the farmhouse. The open barn door in the distance originally led to the former farmyard, which has now been replaced by an industrial milking parlour. The construction of the barn, based on a medieval prototype, is highly distinctive and it’s L-shape with two connecting chambers is a special characteristic of barns in this part of Sussex.

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500 Years of British Art