Gwyneth Johnstone (1915 – 2010)

The Railway Bridge


Mixed media

64 x 83 cm

Signed lower left in paint, and monogrammed lower left in pencil.

Provenance: the estate of the artist.

Johnstone explores the possibilities of abstraction in this semi-delirious depiction of a railway bridge. Painted in tones of burnt umber, orange, grey, and black, the picture is populated by warped railings, bending trees, and staring onlookers, all of which centre around a railway line and bridge. Tanya Harrod described Johnstone’s painting style a ‘a hallucinogenic, haunting pastoral’, and that is immensely evident in this picture.

Johnstone was an English painter who worked mostly in oils and often depicted poignant modern landscapes. Her parents were the musician Nora Brownsford and the artist Augustus John. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, where she established lifelong friendships with fellow artists Mary Fedden and Virginia Parsons.

After the Slade, Johnstone was taught academicised cubism by the painter André Lhote at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. For a brief period in the early 1950s she took life classes with the surrealist artist Cecil Collins at the Central School of Arts and Crafts.