Art for Inspiration: A Convent Garden, Brittany by William John Leech

A Convent Garden, Brittany, c1913
by William John Leech (1881 - 1968)

About the painting:
In this picture, Leech’s first wife Elizabeth poses as a novice of the Soeurs du Saint-Esprit, looking up contemplatively from her prayer book, as nuns from the same order, their heads bowed in prayer, process through the shadows in the background. The setting is the walled garden of the nuns’ hospital and convent in Concarneau, in which Leech had convalesced in 1904, having contracted typhoid fever. Elizabeth wears the Breton bridal costume traditionally donned by novices on the day they took their final vows.

About the artist:
The painting reflects ... the artist’s particular love of sunlight and pattern. Leech shows admirable confidence in painting with vigour and freedom on such a large scale, and in managing a complex palette of, among other colours, acid greens, bright yellows, subtle pinks and various shades of white. He displays particular skill in suggesting Elizabeth’s slim, elegant form under the delicate folds of her dress.

Excerpted from: National Gallery of Ireland

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