27. The Firs
39.5 x 49.5cm. Daler Board with new frame
This, the second of his studies of the house, belonged to a period when his neighbour had made changes to his gardens. Trees had been trimmed or removed, so that there was now a more open view of the rear of the house. His purpose in creating this composition had also changed. Here he was concerned with forming a narrative of the whole property, as an integrated space for living, and its limits, marked by his own boundary hedge, had to be included in his painting. As if to celebrate its domestic reality, he was careful to include the kitchen extension and the TV aerials on the chimneys, but, by also including the decorative brickwork on the corner of the public front of the house, he also alluded to its grander face. That he went on to paint yet another version of the house may be partly explained by the fact that it underwent major refurbishment, and changed its colour in the process. Since he had such a feeling for colour, he would have wanted to take advantage of the new possibilities. He may also have intended to give a painting of the house to its owner, with whom he was on the best of terms and, since the building had changed, this painting would have seemed inaccurate. As things turned out, neither painting left his house. Even if he had not intended to give the paintings to his friend, or record its transformation, that the house provided an attractive subject for him would have been reason enough to produce these two related versions of it. The picture's surface has suffered some damage, either intentionally or accidentally. He may have been in the process of re-painting but never got round to finishing it. At least the damage reveals an over-painted window, showing that he had already made alterations to his composition.