Original, oil on paper, signed.
Painting Size: 42 x 59 cm (16.5" x 23.5")
Black with mount - framed size: 54 X 72 CM
Oak with mount - framed size: 54 X 72 CM
White with mount - framed size: 54 X 72 CM
Read more about our Framing Workshop here
The Secret House
Earlier in the year we commissioned the artist Raphael Balme to create a series of original oil paintings centred on the idea of a ‘grand secret house’.
With the artist’s love of crumbling Italian villas and Gainsborough-style portraiture, the next piece of inspiration is more 20th century. In our initial talks we discovered a mutual interest in the film Last Year at Marienbad (below); a beautiful, dream-like French film from 1961 which follows a group of unnamed aristocrats as they interact at a palatial château and garden, resulting in an enigmatic tale told partially in flashback.
The resulting work by Raphael is a series of thirteen large-scale oil paintings with a similar dream-like aesthetic. Inside, beyond the grand gated entrance to The House, figures can be seen in disorienting ballrooms and salons, empty rooms and quiet gardens, lakes and a palm house.
The portrait of The Family seem to suggest a time in the past, with a house abandoned in it’s glory, or waiting for a return. Toys are lined up in The Nursery and the dappled rocking horse seems to be still rocking, the plants in The Palm House appear to have been recently watered and snow has fallen on the neatly cut Topiary Garden, but still, there is hardly a soul to be seen…
Studying Balme’s paintings closely recalls works such as Uccello’s The Hunt in the Forest (always worth a visit to the Ashmolean in Oxford to see this), with its dizzying perspective and Elongated aristocratic figures,
or Melchior Hamers's Dutch paintings of gardens at twilight complete with mysterious figures.
Raphael Balme paints textiles, rugs, mirrors, wallpapers, objects, animals and interiors with a rich boldness that makes these works seem vibrant, yet there is also a faded grandeur which makes the whole collection intriguing and intoxicating!
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A new collection of original paintings by British artist Raphael Balme. A graduate of Chelsea College of Arts, Balme’s work plays with colour and pattern. Drawing on folk art motifs, she makes dream-like landscapes and portraits featuring fictional characters from duchesses to clowns. This latest collection is inspired by Balme's recent work on the frescoes in the old chapel at Villa Pozzolo in Tuscany.
A picture of the artist's studio (taken by her good friend and fellow artist Mark Hearld)
Balme takes inspiration from many places, on her studio wall is a picture of this old chest, painted with mermaids and flowers.
Raphael recently worked on a new fresco at an ancient villa in Tuscany. "Villa Pozzolo was bought as a wreck by Niko Von Glasow, a film director and an old friend. The family are eccentric, daring entrepreneurs, connecting people, taking risks, with friends all over the world, when they invited me to go and be involved in painting the fresco in the chapel on the estate I jumped at it, although its’s an on going project. The house is completely magical and inspiring - a lot of my new work, particularly colours, is directly influenced by time spent there. "
Balme's home and studio is filled with inspiration for her paintings...