The Palace by Joseph Syddall
I could look at this artwork forever, my head full of questions.
How could Joseph Syddall create such a feeling of movement, how could he make the street lamps glow and the lights of the theatre seem so warm, how did he catch the emotions and expressions of the people in the foreground and yet also the hustle and bustle of those in the background? It makes me marvel at the talent needed to produce all this and more in just one image…and using pastels too, just gorgeous.
The Palace, part of the museum’s Joseph Syddall collection, was donated by Joseph’s niece, Mrs Wiles. On the back of the frame it details that this work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1916. This date and the soldier in the foreground, who is almost looking out of the scene and into the room, reminds me that Joseph created this work whilst the First World War was raging abroad. I wonder if Syddall is trying to tell us - with the bright beautiful theatre in the centre of a gloomy London night - that even amidst the darkness of those times everyday life, luminous and vibrant, went on. And people, more than ever, were grateful for the delights of the Palace Theatre.
Rachel - museums collection officer