Adam's IMPORTANT IRISH ART 8th December 2021

80 55 COLIN MIDDLETON RHA RUA MBE (1910-1983) The Trojan Horse (1942) Oil on canvasboard, 36 x 26cm (14 x 10¼’’) Signed with monogram Exhibited: Belfast, Colin Middleton, Belfast Museum and Art Gallery 1943, where lent by Mrs W.A. Wood € 15,000 - 20,000 Although it was painted in the middle of the Second World War, The Trojan Horse seems to belong to the series of works that emerged from Colin Middleton’s reaction to the Spanish Civil War and perhaps this is the reason why such a powerful image was borrowed back from its purchaser to be included only in the ‘Miscellaneous’ section of Middleton’s solo exhibition at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery in 1943. The female figures of Middleton’s early surrealist paintings were often incomplete or altered in some way, but by 1942 they appear to have become closer to ciphers, identifiable through their clothing or through some anthropomorphic features. In this desert landscape, a dress and gloves hang off this scarecrow figure that has an expressionless mask for a face; her single leg is staked through an old pram without wheels, its paint blistering, that sits beside a toy soldier on a horse. There is the suggestion of a lost family in an inhospitable world; the imagery in many ways is reminiscent of Nevill Johnson’s post-war paintings, but Middleton’s title also recalls his interest in Jung and in using painting to explore symbols and archetypes often rooted in the imagery of classical literature. While this gives a broader resonance to the painting, coming as it does soon after the death of Middleton’s first wife and the blitz of Belfast it remains deeply personal. Dickon Hall.