21 Nov 1915 - 20 Oct 2008
The title of this work is from three lines in W H Auden's poem 'The witnesses' 1932-34: 'The sky is darkening like a stain;/ Something is going to fall like rain,/ And it won't be flowers'.
'... It was one of the key poems that I discovered many years ago, that had an effect on me like the T S Eliot poems', Gleeson quoted in Renée Free's unpublished catalogue of James Gleeson's work.
This drawing is a study for the top half of the painting, while a second is for the bottom half [see 138.1990.2].
'This has an even more tormented sky ... In a key position in it, a fairly generalised adaptation of El Greco's 'View of Toledo' [circa 1597-99, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]. This has been a painting I always admired and have never been disenchanted with ... it is one of THE greatest landscape paintings of all time to my mind. I wanted to imply something of the mood of that painting but transmuted into an imaginary world beyond the normal visual experience one could have in nature ... I was very conscious of the fact that it was painted at a time when the Inquisition was in full force and that the burning of heretics was probably going on at the very moment when the painting was made. I felt the world today is in a predicament not unlike that', Gleeson quoted in Free.
Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'James Gleeson: drawings for paintings', Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003, pg. 75.
charcoal on pale green paper
30.7 x 47.3 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.l., charoal "Gleeson 23.12.1982".
Gift of Frank O'Keefe 1990
Not on display
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Apr 2003–15 Jun 2003
Referenced in 1 publication
Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, Sydney, 2003, 74 (colour illus.), 75. cat.no. 28a