The painting that I have chosen to describe is Richard Westall’s 1811 “Landscape-Solitude”.
“Immediately the viewer finds themselves truly alone in a dark, gloomy and somewhat morbid landscape. The shadowy midground of the painting emanates an almost unearthly aura, only interjected with slim pockets of blue sky. Each knotted, aging tree appears as some ghoulish figure, lurking in the deep shadows, reaching out with splintered, and decaying branches, leafless. The trees that keep their leaves find their foliage also in a state of decay, a deep auburn that juxtaposes against the gloom, yet still on the inevitable passage to dilapidation. Whilst some trees find themselves still green, the hint of browning that tinges their leaves alludes to the inevitability of their own deterioration.
The rocky floor of the clearing offers no haven for the greedy roots of the trees, who reach, claw and grasp for the murky water that sits just below. The stream winds slowly down, made clear by the sleek white bolts that litter the water, and the many boulders that jut out also. Upon the surface of the dark rocks that line the streams, moss grows, clumping here and there, patchily covering the ancient boulders.
Standing warily on one such rock, a solitary bird watches keenly over the flowing water. The pointed, menacing beak stands out against the dark shadows, as though some needle-thin glint against its surroundings. In no one area of this landscape does the viewer find any sense of solace, each aspect emits a menacing atmosphere of gloom. Even the contrast of the cheerful blue sky is inevitably overwhelmed by the complete darkness of the painting.”