Verso: Label: Ruth Everard, 5215 Boulevard Edgar Quintet, Paris
Exhibited: Johannesburg. Graham’s Fine Art Gallery. 29 March – 6 May 2007. “Birth of the Modernist Body”.
Illustrated: Graham’s Fine Art Gallery. 2007. Birth of the Modernist Body. Graham’s Fine Art Gallery, Johannesburg. p. 84 & 85
Paintings by the members of the Everard Group are something of a rarity. It is only over the last decade or so that interest in their work has picked up and their amazing and amusing story has been told. Their work shows a fine understanding of the modern arts, especially French painting. The appeal of the inherently South African context – especially in their landscapes – exerted a persistent influence. The fact that they were women painters makes their work all the more interesting and significant. Ruth and Rosamund were clearly influenced by their mother’s artistic example. It is difficult to know to what extent they consciously tried to craft an Everard style. These two still-lives share a great deal with the work of their mother. In fact, taken together, these works constitute a partial but suggestive record of the time together in Paris before 1926.
Still-life has always had a particular appeal for painters. As a model, it is patient and tractable; as subject matter, it is redolent with the suggestion of refined domesticity and privacy. It is a genre of painting well suited to the tastes of the middle classes.
Ruth’s still-life is set out very broadly; the surfaces are well defined and demarcated. The viewer can almost count the discrete objects. The visual arrangement of the painted surface is conventional: the background vertically divided into two, with the flower pot in the middle. This arrangement allows Ruth to display her strongly structured and organized ensemble to the best effect. The interest of the viewer is maintained by the relative monotony of the yellowish background on the left, against the varied and multicoloured right. The flower arrangement, especially the reaching green fronds is, in itself, sufficiently wild to be an effective counterpoint in the painting.