Jean-François de Troy – Jason Taming the Bulls of Aeëtes

Rome, circa 1742, Oil on Canvas

The source of the subject for De Troy’s painting is Ovid, Metamorphoses (Briere G., Dimier L. 1930). Originally painted circa. 1742, it depicts Jason, in the centre, miraculously taming two fire-breathing bulls during his quest for the Golden Fleece. To the left of the painting he is watched by Aeetes, the King of Colchis, and by his daughter Medea. Jason holds protective magic herbs that was provided by Jason’s lover, Medea. This oil sketch was created in preparation for a much larger painting, which, in turn, acted as the model for a tapestry woven in the Gobelins workshop in Paris. Several similar sketches were also made, circa 1742, depicting Jason’s life; such as The Combat of the Soldiers Born From Serpent’s Teeth, and The Departure of Jason and Medea after the Conquest of the Golden Fleece, both shown below (Leribault 2002, p. 380).

The combat of the soldiers born from the serpent’s teeth
The departure of Jason and Medea after the conquest of the Golden Fleece

Compositional Technique:

Several elements, inherent in the painting, informed the aesthetic and artistic intention of the composition; such as movement, density of sound, texture, space, and counterpoint between the organic (depicted by the crowd and the bulls) and the architectonic (depicted by the building structures in the background). The form of the work is suggested by the narrative aspects of the painting and initially focuses on sounds provided by the gathering and movement of the crowd. The listener’s perspective is shifted throughout the piece, and is placed in various locations within the painting.

The first phrase of the work is primarily concerned with the movement and somewhat chaotic utterances of the crowd. A steady rise in dynamics of sound and ‘swirling’ staccato-like effects, builds the ominous tension which crescendos with layered bull roars. The second phrase of the composition, sees the introduction of the bulls; the listener’s perspective is shifted to centre of the painting, with the raucous din of the crowd drowned out by the strength and fury of the two animals. My artistic intention for this section of the work is to convey a sense of unbridled fury, presence, and strength. As the bulls begin to be tamed, their roars are spectrally stretched or blurred; diffusing the tension after the initial sonic ‘shock’ and resolves to more serene timbral structures. Certain elements in the painting are employed to create a sense of motion within the piece, such as the ‘whipping’ motions of the bull’s tails. The final phrase of the work concerns the resolution of the tension, with the calming of the bulls, dispersal of the crowd, and expansion of the perception and perspective of the listener’s distance, with the dissolution of the the crowd and bull sounds.

The sense of space is also modulated in the three phrases of the work; beginning with the circular movement of the crowd — the space is all encompassing and sets the sonic landscape of the work; the second phrase the space is contracted, to focus on the bulls in the centre of the painting; finally, the space is expanded and becomes more diffuse to imbue the piece with a sense of serenity, or ‘moving away from the madness of the crowd’ and to contrast the hitherto anger, strength, and presence of the rampaging bulls to their taming.

Bibliography:

Briere G. & Dimier L. (1930) ‘Les Peintres Francais du XVIIIe Siecle’ vol. 2, no. 54. pp 26-27, 37.

Leribault, Christophe. (2002) Jean-François de Troy (1679-1752). Paris : Arthena.

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Abstraction – Music in Response to Linear Construction No.1

Programme Notes

Composed in response to Linear Construction No.1 by Naum Gabo, Abstraction provides a setting in which one can view, explore, and reflect upon what the sculpture means to them. Designed to be played on a loop, Abstraction begins by establishing the space within the sculpture’s perspex frame, introducing the physical and imagined qualities of the nylon strings as individual and collective structures. As the piece progresses, the importance of perspective in the judgement of the art drives the music forward. Minute shifts in material encourages the development of a morphing feeling within the piece, reflecting the many angles that the artwork can be viewed from. As the climax of the music passes, a comprehensive and personalised judgement of the sculpture can be formed. This carries forward into a meditative-like state that rounds off the piece, in which you are encouraged to take in the whole artwork not just by itself but within the space of the Barber Gallery. 

Linear Construction No. 1 by Naum Gabo, c.1945-46.

Compositional Notes

From the moment I decided to draw inspiration from Gabo’s Linear Construction No.1, I knew that I wanted to create a piece that complements the visual experience of the sculpture. From my time around the artwork, I learned that the longer you explore the piece, the more you notice within it, with my own perceptions and judgements constantly evolving over time. Without understanding the sculpture to the extent required for this project, I think I would’ve taken it in quickly, in a limited sense, not giving it the time needed to fully embed it in my mind before passing judgement. This is why, in my work, I have focussed on creating a musical space that allows one to explore the sculpture in an environment that simultaneously guides the eye and leaves the viewer with the ability to interpret and understand the piece on their own terms.  

For me, successfully creating a space that enables this exploration can only happen with the careful creation and use of sound material. From the start of my compositional process, I was particularly set on using mainly synthesised sounds to reflect the abstract nature of Gabo’s work. As a result, within my piece, I have used two different types of sounds to represent and reflect upon the tangible and abstract nature of the sculpture and the differences between them.

Firstly, I created a set of “plucking” sounds to represent and bring to life the nylon strings in Gabo’s piece. To create these, I coded a mouse-controlled graphic user interface (GUI) in Supercollider to create a plucking noise, in which the area of the screen I clicked altered the produced pitch and resonance. In turn, this enabled me to have full control of the sounds I was creating, letting me not only create static sounds resemblant to the plucking of Gabo’s nylon strings, but also pitch-based phrases that follow the larger gestural contours of these strings. I also used the same GUI to record resonant background material, using this in the piece as textural material, altered over time using GRM plugins, to support the plucking gestures in a manner that creates a cohesive sound world.

Considering the characteristics of chosen sound materials thus far, I have created material that holds great similarity to focus on developing unitary space rather than structural change. However, in representing the abstract, negative space within the sculpture, I wanted to create material that highly contrasts yet is cohesive in nature. Using Supercollider again to synthesise sound, I coded a sine wave, using GRM plugins doppler and shuffling to create subtle movement that gives the seemingly static negative void in the centre of Gabo’s structure energy and life.

Thinking structurally about the piece, it is this sine-based material that encourages musical change. With the beginning focussing on the introduction of space and the concept of the nylon strings, the slow and steady introduction of this sine-based material leads the way to a highly contrasting meditative section of almost static music. Here, I would like to argue that the sculpture’s negative space is taking over, making the listener/viewer take a step back and see the sculpture for the first time as a whole, rather than its individual parts.

Candlestick – French (Limoges), 16th Century, painted enamel

When writing this piece, an image of lighting the candle in a quiet, cosy room, perhaps on a dark winter’s evening, and watching the images on the stick come to life in the light of the flame. This led me to start the piece in the way I did, as I wanted to incorporate the story of the candlestick itself, which likely could have belonged in a church or wealthy household. As these images come to life, some depict non-specific scenes, and I wanted to explore how each of these scenes might sound if it were to materialise around you. Others are more story based, and so I aimed to tell these stories along with creating the soundscape of the scene in which the story takes place. The two scenes in particular with a clear story are in the centre and at the base of the candlestick. The scene in the centre depicts a scene of Icthyocentaurs, possibly rescuing the companions of Dionysus after they were cast into the sea by a Thrakian king. The scene around the base of the candlestick shows a part of Exodus 32, in which Moses returns from the mountains to the Jewish slaves who recently escaped from Egypt, with orders from God to kill any of them who had become ‘corrupt’ and no longer followed God. I decided to end this piece with the candle being blown out, to show the story has ended once again, and the scenes on the candlestick return to still images once more.

Section 6 – The Ichthyocentaurs

The candlestick is divided into 9 very clear sections, so I decided to structure my piece in this way, adding a short introduction to present the candle itself being lit. The first section depicts several statues, which I interpreted to be in a formal garden, so this section presents a soundscape of a formal garden, accented with the sound of a stonemason carving a new statue. The second section is simply a few blocks of colour as opposed to a scene or story, and so this is the most abstract section of the piece, with a smooth low underlayer representing the red, and a brighter, shimmering layer over the top to represent the gold. The third and fourth section are very similar, with a regular pattern of leaves, although section four also depicts several cherubs, and so I decided to add some slightly more unnatural elements to section 4, whereas section 3 uses much more natural, unprocessed sounds. Section 5 also features some cherubs surrounded by gold ribbons, so I took a more ethereal approach to this section, with the sounds of several choirs layered over one another building into a crescendo towards section 6. Section 6 is one of the two sections of this artwork that depicts a very specific scene of Icthyocentaurs saving the companions of Dionysus form the sea. For this section I created a soundscape of a storm at sea, and aimed to create the sense that we are seeing the ghost of the story being told, with the sounds of hooves and horns and weapons, which fade away as the storm calms towards the end of the section.

Section 9 – Exodus 32

Section 7 is very similar to section 5, with the return of the cherubs. I created a similar atmosphere here with the sounds of the choirs, but this time they were also layered with the sounds of birds. Section 8 shows a few portraits of unknown figures, and so I decided to create a soundscape of an art gallery for this section, cutting off section 7 with the sound of the door to the art gallery closing behind. The voices in the gallery lead us into section 9: the base, with one of the indistinct voices gradually becoming clearer until we start to hear part of the story of Exodus 32. As the story progresses, the soundscape builds, leading towards a festival. This festival is cut off abruptly as the wrath of God is brought down, and chaos builds, reflecting the story in which half of the people in the camp suddenly turn on their friends and family who no longer followed God.

Overall I felt the images in this work depicted mostly natural scenes, with a few supernatural or otherworldly elements, and this is what I tried to reflect in my work. Almost every sound in this piece has been recorded, and while several have been processed in some way, very few are fully synthetic sounds. To bring about my idea of lighting the candlestick and watching the images come to life in the light of the flame, I continued the sound of the flickering flame throughout the piece, although very quietly, so it can just be heard in the background when everything else is quiet. I also decided to take the physicality of the stick into account, as it is not a flat painting, and I wanted to reflect this in my work. I achieved this by shaping the piece in terms of dynamics and panning to roughly follow the contours of the candlestick itself.

The Church at Varengeville, Setting Sun.

The Church at Varengeville, Setting Sun.

Varengeville, Normandy, 1882

Oil on canvas

“The view is across a hidden gorge to the isolated cliff-top church at Varengeville.  Monet painted various subjects along the Normandy coast in the summer of 1882.” (Herbert, 1994).

Fragments of colour build up a vibrant landscape. Monet has interpreted the colours, weather and time of day through his own emotional lens. The pointillistic, fragmented construction has inspired me to use colourful pointillistic synthesis textures to mimic the use of colour, weather and atmosphere. One of the ideas for using synthesis, is to mimic the impressionistic painting style, that is, an expressive distortion of the reality the artist is seeing. A key feature of the painting is a lateral flow of form, a flow created by the wind; an effect known as eolian shaping, the trees are being blown, rustling as wind passes through, so is the foliage bellow and the long grass in the distance has a clear direction to it. The static stone church in the background could be chiming, polyrhythmic pitches embedded amongst the sea birds and the whispering psithurisms of the wind. The landscape is calm, fresh and colourful, the sun is setting, the sea in the distance gently ebbs and flows and we hear the wind gently altering the landscape absent of human presence, only the church that sits faded in the background.

Between 1867 and 1887 Monet travelled across the Normandy coast painting a variety of subjects and scenes. “Monet was determined to make the views his own, and he stared closely at nature. He developed a technique in which brushwork, colour, and composition could register his responses to nature, apparently instinctual responses that marked out his originality” (Herbert, 1994). While at Varengeville in the summer of 1882, Monet produced four canvases of the same view over the duration of a day, reflecting the way light changed as the suns position in the sky changed (The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 2022). By 1882, Monet had largely abandoned the Impressionist practice of finishing a painting from nature; here the final touches were added in his studio. (ArtUK, 2022). The spot, Varengville that Monet paints is a popular site for impressionistic artists to paint. Artists such as Jacques-Emile Blanche and Jen Frnacis Auburtin: “Although the artist Auburtin was interested in the effects of light and chose a framing markedly identical to that of Monet, his design and colours are much more synthetic” (Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, 2022).

Monet was known through the 1880s for his landscape paintings; “During the 1880s, Monet travelled through France painting a variety of landscapes. He gradually became better known and for the last 30 years of his life he was regarded as the greatest of the Impressionists (BBC, 2014). Monet’s decision to exhibit comparatively small paintings, bright in colour and often sketchily executed, was a calculated intervention into contemporary debates on painting, and a statement that pictures like these could be legitimately considered finished works. During Monet’s time in France his style underwent transition, the crisply painted forms in his work from the late 1860s are barley comparable to the expressive, loosely painted landscapes and nature forms developed by Monet from the 1880s then into the 20th century (House, 1986). Where previously Monet focussed on the material facture of a subject, evolution towards an integrated harmony between substance and feeling became a focal point in Monet’s work. (House, 1986).

My technical approach to composing the piece uses additive synthesis techniques to construct sinusoidal textures which ebb and flow in polyphony and polyrhythm thereby both mimicking the ebb and flow of wind and the polyphony of a church’s bells. The Church at Varengeville is an emotional, impressionistic response to a landscape so I wanted to try and replicate those emotions in the way I use pitches. The closing section of the piece is detuned to add an uneasy edge, for I feel abstraction and impressionism presents a disconnect from reality. The wind passing through foliage is a key observation within the painting, so I wanted to directly mimic this by using a broadband, wind-like textures with granular filtering applied.

Hear here an excerpt from my composition:

References

Artuk. (2022). The Church at Varengeville. [Online] Available at:
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/the-church-at-varengeville-33127


The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. (2022). The Church at Varengeville.[Online] Available at:
https://barber.org.uk/claude-monet-1840-1926/.

BBC. (2014). Claude Monet (1840-1926). [Online] Available at:
bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/monet_claude.shtml#:~:text=During%20the%201880s%2C%20Mo
net%20travelled,the%20greatest%20of%20the%20Impressionists


Herbert, R. (1994). Monet on the Normandy Coast Tourism and painting, 1867-1886. Yale University
Press.


House, J. (1986). Monet, Nature into Art. Yale University Press.


Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. (2022). Monet-Auburtin: The Church at Varengeville-sur-Mer.
[Online] Available at: https://artsandculture.google.com/story/monet-auburtin-the-church-atvarengeville-sur-mer-museum-of-impressionism-giverny/-AVhktuQWuw2Jw?hl=en

Mother and Child by the Sea – Johan Christian Clausen Dahl

Mother and Child by the Sea (1840) by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/mother-and-child-by-the-sea-33070

Johan Christian Dahl’s Mother and Child by the Sea sits quietly tucked into a corner at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. It’s a surprisingly small piece; I didn’t even notice it on my first visit to the gallery. There is much to be said about the history behind this artwork, but what really stands out to me is the painting itself. The dark clouds obscure a sun, or perhaps a moon. A boat approaches the shore and a woman and child wait upon the rocks. The artwork tells an ambiguous story, though much of the ambiguity is cleared away upon further investigation.

This painting is dated 1840. Ten years prior, Dahl had painted a very similar piece.

Mother and Child by the Sea (1830) by Johan Christian Clausen Dahl:
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438954

Writing to the owner of the 1830 painting, Dahl mentioned that the characters were the wife and child of the fisherman who was approaching the shore. This seems to parallel Dahl’s own life – his father was a fisherman, and rather tragically Dahl lost both his first wife and his second wife to childbirth, and three of his five children passed away as well. Death is a reoccurring theme with this artwork – Dahl’s good friend, the artist Caspar David Friedrich, passed away in 1840 as well, and Dahl’s painting seems to pay homage to Friedrich’s style.

I find that the ethereal quality of the work suggests a great depth of meaning to this small painting. Why is the atmosphere weighed down with gloom if the occasion is a happy one? Is it dawn or dusk? Is Dahl the child who waits? Or is Dahl the father who wishes to “return” to his departed family members? With my piece I aim to capture the suggestive power of this painting, how it captures natural beauty, my interpretation of the characters’ emotions, and the juxtaposition of light and dark, joy and sorrow, life and death.

Vesuvius in Eruption – Joseph Wright of Derby

The painting that I have chosen to compose for is Vesuvius in Eruption by Joseph Wright of Derby.  Derby created this painting as part of a collection focusing on Mount Vesuvius, located in the southeast of Italy, just 9km east of Naples (Wallis, 1997).  There are differing reports on whether Wright was present for an eruption of the volcano, however we know that he actively researched the volcano during his stay (Taylor, 2015).

Painted during the infancy of the romantic period, strong traces of the sublime can be seen within this painting, focusing on the quality of greatness found within nature (Taylor, 2015).  The expansive canvas immediately emphasises the power of the volcano, aided by the dwarfing of the local natural and human life. The ecology is an area that this composition will endeavour to reflect through an effective morphology that can display how these different elements of the painting interact.

This piece begins in the shadows of the painting, indicated by the high levels of EQ and continuous droning low rumbles reflecting distance from the volcano.  Conversely, the sounds of water are delicate and clear and can be heard coming onto the shore, slowly this also becomes muted by EQ as the listener travels across the water to the populated area. Human life will be connoted by layers of human voice and sounds of a city scape. Finally, this piece will progress towards its climax as the listener climbs the volcano to the explosive eruption at the top of the painting. Proceeding this, the piece will begin to recede back into the darkness of the night sky, with the rumbles of the volcano being left behind, opening up to the delicate sounds of the breeze and sound objects that reflect the light of the moon.

Reference List:

  • Wallis, J. (1997). Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-97 : an introduction to the work of Joseph Wright of Derby with a catalogue of drawings held by Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Derby: Derby Museum And Art Gallery.

Construction and Composition – Linear Construction in Space No.1 by Naum Gabo

Out of all the artworks in the gallery, it was this small sculpture by Naum Gabo that captured my eye and imagination unlike any other. Dissimilar to other sculptural works in the Barber Gallery, Linear Construction relies on form, rather than colour, to create beauty and evoke emotion. With mathematical inspiration, Gabo uses nylon strings contained within a Perspex frame to create symmetrical, sweeping visual gestures which interact harmoniously, interweaving to create an image of unity and strength that contrasts its fragile materials. In contrast to this, the negative space left by the artist has somewhat of an inability to speak, acting in a void-like manner in the very centre of the sculpture.  

Linear Construction in Space No.1 by Naum Gabo, 1942-43

Whether seeing Linear Construction for the first or fiftieth time, an individual, unique journey can be traced by the eye of the viewer, noticing, and moving between different lines and gestures in succession. As one begins to move around the sculpture perceptions and interpretations of the work evolve until eventually, an overall judgement can be made of the piece. It is this process of individual interpretation that I want to evoke in my own composition.

A focus on space and time similar as this was key to Gabo in the curation of Linear Construction. As a key proponent of the Russian Constructivist movement, Gabo was consumed by connections between object and time in his work, and how the combination of individual elements, in this case, strings, can contribute to a greater whole. Considering this historically, it is evident that Gabo desired to convey his own political opinions, upholding views of utopianism in socialism held by fellow constructivists during the period of the Russian revolution (1917-1923). Personally, although I am intending to convey a similar view on time and space to Gabo in my own composition, I am not leaning towards expressing a political view. Instead, I want to focus on how the individual perceives Linear Construction in a manner that reflects the importance of both the unit and the whole.

The real stuff of Gabo’s art is not in his physical materials, but his perception of space, time and movement

Gabo: The Constructive Idea – Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings, Monoprints

So far in my compositional process, I have begun creating sounds relating to the sculpture’s form through synthesis, programming a graphic user interface in Supercollider (an open-source software) to control pitch and timbre using my mouse. I have also done the same in a more percussive sound palette to create a mouse-controlled sound I have been calling ‘pluck’. From recording my mouse movements using these interfaces, I have created a collection of sounds that I have begun layering and editing to create a rough draft of my opening section that you can hear below.

If you are interested in the work and life of Naum Gabo and constructivism, further reading suggestions that I have found particularly interesting can be found below.

Christie’s. 2019. A Brief History of Constructivism. Available at https://www.christies.com/features/a-brief-history-of-constructivism-9811-1.aspx.

Newman, Teresa. 1976. The Constructive Process. London: Tate Gallery Publications.

Southbank Centre. 1987. Gabo: The Constructive Idea – Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings, Monoprints. London: The Southbank Centre

Tate Gallery 1987. Naum Gabo: Sixty Years of Constructivism. London: Tate Gallery Publications.

The Arts Council of Great Britain. 1966. Naum Gabo: Constructions, Paintings, Drawings. London: The Arts Council of Great Britain.

“Vesuvius in Eruption” by Joseph Wright of Derby

Vesuvius in Eruption, 1777-1780. (Image taken from barber.org.uk)

Programme notes

Joseph Wright of Derby seems to have been very interested in Vesuvius. Around 1774, he actually visited Naples and was “lucky” enough to witness a minor eruption. From this trip, he got inspired to paint a collection of 30 artworks, including this one. This painting was created a few years later back in Britain and was created by memory, depicting his idea of how a much more catastrophic (and visually stunning) eruption would look like, also imagining how different it would be compared to the one he experienced. As the painting was created from memory it is not easy to know the exact time of the year it depicts, so I assumed everything was accurately placed, especially the moon.

For my response to this painting I followed a holistic approach and starting with the explosion, I try to explore what would follow it.


Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples c.1776-80 Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-1797 Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, Friends of the Tate Gallery, and Mr John Ritblat 1990
Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples c.1776-80. (Image taken from tate.org.uk)
Vesuvius in eruption, viewed from Posillipo 1789. Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-1797.
Vesuvius in eruption, viewed from Posillipo 1789. (Image taken from wikimedia.org)

Extended notes

My piece can be divided into three thematic sections: the explosion (0:00-0:45), the small town on the left (0:45-2:53) and the nature in the foreground (2:53-4:30). The explosion sounds were made in SuperCollider and edited in Reaper to resemble the sound/feeling of a strong earthquake and a volcanic eruption. The explosion sound takes 37.17 seconds from the beginning to reach the listener, which is the exact time it would take given its distance – this is done in part to emphasize that distance.

As mentioned above, through this piece I wanted to explore what would follow the eruption, thus I did not want to spend too much time with the explosion itself. I focus on the town, which is directly affected by the volcano, but at the same time natural sounds are introduced, like the sea or the forest, with animals that are far away from all the destruction. The human sounds (voices and bells) stop abruptly, as the lava has reached the town and everyone there has died, while sounds of nature remain intact, as the forest is not affected at all due to its distance. The music then becomes more static for a while symbolising that, in a bigger scale, this event is quite natural and life goes on normally, without caring about it. I have tried to create a contrast with the painting there, which we, as humans, consider to be very intense.

The idea is that what we may see as a tragic incident, costing numerous lives (not just human ones – animals also live in the town), is quite subjective and natural “observers”, like the sea, the trees or the birds on a shore far away from all that (about 13km in fact), will not be very bothered. The bird singing at the end followed by a wing flapping before closing, is meant to convey the idea that life will continue, like the bird will fly away from the disaster. This can be interpreted in various ways (optimistic, pessimistic, nihilistic), but I would prefer to let the listener decide instead of stating my own interpretation of it.

To create this piece, I have collected a various sounds from many different places of Greece. I have generally tried to keep the natural sounds as accurate as possible, so I went to a forest with the same flora as in the painting. I also recorded the sea at a gulf about the size of the one in Naples on a night with a full moon, birds that can naturally be found there too and bells from a Greek church which are very similar to the ones used in Italy back then.

By measuring the position and angle of the moon and knowing the year the painting is supposed to depict (1774), it is safe to say that the month is either May or June. The aforementioned sounds are all recorded and edited to fit this time of the year in the Mediterranean. The wind that appears throughout the piece is also very common early in the nights of these months and the full moon being so close to the horizon in the east, means that the sun has just set and it is indeed early in the night.

Heavy winds would be caused by the explosion as well.


Some Interesting Resources

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/wright-vesuvius-in-eruption-with-a-view-over-the-islands-in-the-bay-of-naples-t05846

https://www.carterart.art/article/all-about-vesuvius-in-eruption-by-joseph-wright

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-6327273

‘A Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona’

 

The first thing that struck me about ‘A Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona’ by André Derain was his use of colour. It stands out and contrasts the other paintings around it. I was immediately drawn to it.

Derain, Andre, 1880-1954; Bartolomeo Savona
Derain, Andre; Bartolomeo Savona; The Barber Institute of Fine Arts; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/bartolomeo-savona-33009

Looking into the historical background of the piece, I was intrigued to find out that André Derain painted it in three 20-minute sittings, and gave it to Savona as a gift for acting as his translator while Derain was in London. Derain seems to have harboured great affection for Savona, and obviously considered him a close friend. When compared to an actual photograph of Savona, the painting is really quite difference, and as a result I think the painting more exemplifies Derain’s emotional connection to Savona, as opposed to acting as a physical snapshot of him.

With Henri Matisse, Derain was one of the forefathers of Fauvism, and this painting definitely exemplifies the ‘wild beast’ connotations which were associated with Fauvism. Like I said, it stands out; it’s brash, loud and unapologetic. I think this is really effective and it’s certainly a part of its appeal. Within my final composition I’ve explored lots of colourful sounds and sounds which move and sound exciting – there’s an example from the last section of my finished piece below!


Having now finished my composition, I can say that I have found the experience of writing a piece or programmatic music to be fulfilling and rewarding, and it’s definitely something which I feel I’ll want to undertake again in the future.

William James 4th year