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Herbert Badham (1899-1961)
Interior (also known as Girl at the Piano) 1937
oil on board
61.3 x 39.2 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1939

 

Born 1899, Sydney. Died 1961, Sydney.

In this work a girl is seated at an upright piano with her back to the viewer. There's a sense of movement as her hands are placed on either side of piano stool, suggesting she has just sat down, or is about to get up. She's staring at the sheet music which looks about to fall off the stand. Has she been made to do her music practice reluctantly?

The work is produced with sketchy brushstrokes, and the unsteadiness of the shadows on the walls leaves an uneasy feeling. In the muted colour scheme of browns, we easily place this work in the austere times of the 1930s. The reflection of a male face in the polished surface of the piano, next to the music, reminds the viewer of the artist's presence.

The girl depicted is Badham's daughter “Chebby”, who acted as model in several of his paintings. She accompanied her father to his first solo exhibition at Grosvenor Galleries, George Street Sydney, in May 1939, which may have been where Howard Hinton bought this work.

Upon being received by the Armidale Teachers' College in 1939, this work was hung in the Supper Room, along with George Armfield's Sporting Dogs and Adrian Feint's Bowl of Flowers.

Badham studied at the Sydney Art School with Julian Ashton and George Lambert. During the 1930s and 40s he was influenced by the modernist artists. His paintings are a valuable record of everyday urban life in Sydney in the first half of the twentieth century.