The Old Wall

John Ridgewell (1937 - 2004)

Oil on canvas


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  • About the work
    Country: Latvia
    City: Riga
    Place: British Embassy
    The Old Wall is an intriguing visual conundrum focused on a derelict interior wall composed of layers of whitewashed surfaces and torn, peeling paper. Amid the remnants is a jagged hole revealing a glimpse of a rural landscape and a distant farmhouse. Beside this hangs a framed reproduction of The Angelus, the 1857 painting by Jean-Francois Millet that depicts two peasants pausing to bow their heads as the ringing of the church bell, ‘the angelus’, calls them to prayer. Using the traditional device of trompe l’oeil (‘to deceive the eye’), Ridgewell seamlessly aligns the horizon lines of the scene of Millet’s painting with that in the ‘real’ world – presenting a scene that hovers somewhere between imagination and reality.

    During the 1960s, Ridgewell repeatedly explored the subject and composition of the ‘old wall’ in his work. In 1966, an exhibition of his paintings at the former Mansard Art Gallery at Heal and Son Ltd, London, included the works, Old Wall and Landscape, Old Wall II and Painting on Wall.
  • About the artist
    John Ridgewell was born in Halstead, Essex. He studied at the Colchester School of Art (1954–58) and at the Royal College of Art (1958–61). He went on to teach at Scarborough School of Art up to 1966, after which he focused on painting landscapes, notable for their often unconventional viewpoints and compositions. Ridgewell participated in group exhibitions in London at the New Art Centre, Piccadilly Gallery and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Solo shows were held in York (1963, 1990 and 1993). He died in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk in 2004.
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  • Details
    The Old Wall
    Oil on canvas
    height: 101.70 cm, width: 127.00 cm
    Presented by Cabot Carbon Ltd., September 2009
    lr: J Ridgewell / 65
    Collection of Cabot Carbon Ltd., Ellesmere Port; by whom presented to the Government Art Collection in September 2009
    GAC number