John Tunnard (1900–71)

John Tunnard is best known for his paintings of strange private worlds, which are hard to define, but usually instantly recognisable and show much imagination. Works that at a casual glance might appear semi-abstract soon reveal distant horizons with the sea, moons, strange birds in flight or skeletal trees and shrubs. Hints of repeated man-made objects such as telegraph poles and gates are used to convey great—or even infinite—distance.

A variety of abstract motifs are often included: their skillful integration with the paintings reflects the influence of Tunnard's earlier training in design. Some of this can be seen in the gallery above, but as much as for any artist, Tunnard's works benefit from being seen in the original. Then the viewer can appreciate the full range of effects of colour, texture and frequently also lines incised to a gesso underlayer, a technique used to convey depth and distance.

Tunnard chose oil as the medium for his largest works, but many of his most effective smaller ones (typically 33 x 55 cm) combine gouache with a considerable variety of other media within the one painting. Although this enhances the finished work, it also makes modern-day conservation a more difficult job.

The images in the gallery above are available as Limited Edition Prints from Henry Dyson Fine Arts. Contact Henry Dyson for further details.