After war – 11 November 2019

This picture was painted at the conclusion of WWII. A romantic and stylised landscape symbolises the fall of humanity and the pain of loss. The land is both hard and unforgiving, and soft and enveloping of continuing life. Above the landscape there is an angel-like figure, that floats above the land below, eerie with greens of many kinds but no people to be seen. To the front left there is a thistle, alive and surviving in harsh conditions. To the right seed clocks denote the passing of time. One gust of wind and they will be gone.

The painting is ‘Landscape and Windmill’ by John Minton (1945), which hangs in the newly refurbished ‘Paradise Lost’ gallery in the just re-opened Aberdeen Art Gallery. The paintings in this gallery are grouped as a visual reflection on the costs and consequences of war. Minton himself tried to avoid participating in the conflict of war as a conscientious objector, but was unsuccessful and enlisted in the Pioneer Corps in 1943. He experienced depressive episodes throughout his life, was later discharged following a nervous breakdown.


Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

After the war perhaps I’ll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.
I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.

May Wedderburn Cannan

Oh! bright Religion! spread thy spotless robe,
Salvation’s mantle, o’er a guilty globe!
Oh! let thine ark, where’er the billows roll,
Borne on their bosom, float from pole to pole!
Each distant isle and lonely coast explore,
And bear the olive-branch to ev’ry shore!
Come, Seraph! come: fair pity in thy train,
Shall sweetly breathe her soul-dissolving strain;
While her blue eyes thro’ tears benignly beam,
Soft as the moon-light, quivering on the stream!
Come, Seraph! come, around thy form shall play,
Diffusive glories of celestial day!
Oh! let each clime thy noon of lustre share,
And rapture hail the perfect and the fair!
Let peace on earth resound from heav’n once more,
And angel-harps th’ exulting anthems pour;
While faith, and truth, and holy wisdom bind,
One hallow’d zone—to circle all mankind!

Felicia Dorothea Hemans, from ‘War and Peace’