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Study for 'Something is going to fall like rain'



James Gleeson


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that I discovered many years ago, that had an effect on me like the T S Eliot poems', Gleeson quoted in Renée Free's unpublished catalogue of James Gleeson's work.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 pastel is a study for the bottom half of the painting. Another drawing in the AGNSW collection is also for the bottom half of the painting [see 138.1990.2], while another is for the top half [see 138.1990.1].

'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.


Other Titles

Study for painting




Media category


Materials used



35.5 x 50.7 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., pen and ink "Gleeson 12.1.1983".


Gift of the artist 1989


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

James Gleeson

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, James Gleeson: drawings for paintings, Sydney, 2003, 75 (colour illus.). 28c