Three nudes by Bernard Hall (1859 – 1935)

Sometimes when you are walking through an art gallery, your attention is caught by a particular painting. One such painting is by Bernard Hall (1859 – 1935) an English-born Australian artist, teacher and art gallery director. The painting is in the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Hall’s painting is beautifully balanced. The subject’s body is curved around the yellow sheet, the tension in her body in contrast to the luxuriant folds of the material.

The tones and gradations of the light on the subject’s body are subtle and, even in the sleeping body, there is a tension that is accentuated by her right arm being behind her back emphasising the line of the side of her body against the black background.

The background and foreground are uncluttered and very simple to emphasise the play of light on subject’s body and the light on the material. It’s a wonderful little painting.

This particular painting represents a theme that Hall returned to in two other works.

In the first of these, the yellow material and the black background is used to isolate the body. The arms are used to elongate and create tension in the torso. Internal light is used to create delicate skin tones In a fashion similar to the first painting.

In the final painting, the model is set against a black drape and the arms and legs are arranged to create the tension that runs through the body and emphasises the model’s torso. In this painting, the contrast between the arms and legs is greater than in the previous paintings.

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