In the Cellar Mirror
Oil on gesso relief on board1971
About the work
Place: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Whitehall
The subject of Norman Blamey’s painting is his cellar in Lyncroft Gardens, in North West London. Shown in the mirror are reflections of Blamey and his wife Margaret, whom he had married in 1948.
In the 1970s Blamey used the glass surface of windows, among other reflective surfaces, as metaphors for the picture plane of the painting. The mirror image reverses the real world and separates us from the people portrayed in the painting, who are only seen as reflections of themselves. The postcards around the mirror, some of which partially obscure the reflection of Blamey’s face, are there to remind us of this illusion.
Margaret's death in 1989, after a stroke eight years earlier, affected Blamey profoundly. Following her death she continued to be the subject of a number of his paintings, some of which were based on studies made decades before.
The main themes of Blamey’s work were family subjects (his wife, son and himself); portraits of notable figures in political and academic life and ecclesiastical pictures. Blamey was a practising Anglo-Catholic and he used his paintings to draw attention to the church and its liturgy. He was commissioned to paint murals of Christ in Glory for the Anglican Church of St Luke, Leagrave, Bedfordshire; and The Fisher of Men for the Lutheran Church of St Andrew, Ruislip Manor, Middlesex.
About the artist
Norman Blamey was born in London, the son of a manufacturing chemist. He studied art at Regent Street Polytechnic (1931–37) and taught there from 1938 to 1940. Blamey served in the army from 1940 to 1946 in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon, before returning to teach at Regent Street Polytechnic until 1963. He then moved to Chelsea School of Art. In 1975 he was elected a Royal Academician and became a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy Schools, where he taught life drawing. A retrospective touring exhibition of his work was held at the Norwich Gallery, the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath and the Fine Art Society in London from September 1992 to January 1993, in which the painting ‘In The Cellar Mirror’ (GAC 15133) was shown.
- In the Cellar Mirror
- Oil on gesso relief on board
- height: 114.50 cm, width: 147.50 cm
- Purchased from Mrs J King, January 1981
- GAC number