Thursday, 5 April 2007

Roy de Maistre - The Stations

A comment arrived recently asking about Roy de Maistre, and so for Maundy Thursday I thought it opportune to show the works of his owned by the Cathedral. In the Long Corridor hang his Stations of the Cross - you can see them on the right in their original 1950s frames, which makes them very difficult to photograph!

Roy de Maistre was born in 1894 in New South Wales, Australia. as an artist, he began experimenting with colour, and especially the ways that colour relates to musical harmony. For de Maistre, the way that colours combined in a painting was akin to the combination of notes in music.

Influenced by cubism, he was drawn to Europe, and moved to England in 1930, where he formed close friendships with the novelist Patrick White (who described him as ' a short, thickset, bald man, more like a banker than an artist), and the artist Francis Bacon.

He became a Catholic in 1951, (and was godfather to David Konstant, later Bishop of Leeds) and painted these stations for Westminster Cathedral in 1954.

The Westminster Cathedral Chronicle of June 1960 says of him:
In Roy de Maistre his art, like his religion, is a matter if intense personal conviction. Religious subjects have become his increasing preoccupation. His numerous crucifixions, pietas, works of great power and originality, reveal a mind searching deep in the truth of the Incarnation. Unconventional though his paintings may be, they are articulate and deeply moving.

The article goes on, in the spirit of his own theories of the relationship between paintig and music, to compare his work to Gregorian chant - expressing a sensitiveness for Christ.

Works by de Maistre hang in the Tate Gallery, London, and the National Gallery of Australia; we are fortunate to have his Stations, as well as a Crucifixion. Although we pass these paintings many times a day, it perhaps only at this time of year we ponder them; in recent years, they have been used by the Choir school for Lenten devotions.

Outside my office hangs a separate work, a crucifixion (below) which to me seems to hint at Graham Sutherland. His work is perhaps difficult, but repays effort, and reveals a soul preoccupied with suffering, but also struggling towards the height of a union with God.

1 comment:

Ivo said...

Thank you, Monsignor, for showing us these wonderful paintings. They are a real treasure.