Bernard  Hall (1859-1935)
Asleep n.d.
oil on canvas
35.1 x 45.3 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1943


Born 1859, Liverpool England. Died 1935, London.

(Lindsay) Bernard Hall studied painting in London and exhibited for some years at the Royal Academy. In 1892 he came to Australia and took up the position of Director of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. He held this post for over forty years, and many of the well-known artists of Australia were trained by him in the National Gallery of Victoria Art School.

Hall was a conservative man who valued high standards of aesthetic merit and craftsmanship. His paintings were of interiors, nudes or still life. He paid particular homage to Vermeer, Velasquez and Whistler in his work. Some of his purchases for the Felton Bequest, by Turner, Rodin and Pissarro are among the treasures of the National Gallery of Victoria. He died of a sudden illness in London whilst on an art buying trip for the gallery.

The date of this work is unknown but the dark tones are suggestive of British light. The female figure lies sleeping on a blue patterned sofa. She wears a black evening dress; a book is lying open on the shaggy rug; her shoes have been thrown off. Has she come home from a party or has she fallen asleep waiting for someone? Adding to the domestic composition is a glimpse of an empty chair and a landscape picture hanging above the sofa.