Lullington Church, 1939
James Bateman RA (1893 - 1959)
RA Collection: Art
The 12th-century church at Lullington, a tiny hamlet situated in East Sussex on the South Downs, claims to be the smallest church in England. It measures a mere five by five metres. Technically, it is not a church at all but the chancel (the part near the altar) of an all-but destroyed larger church that once stood on the site.
Despite its diminutive size, Bateman paints the church as the focus of the work, imbuing it with a status that belies its modest physical presence. Painted in a muted palette, Bateman depicts the church encircled by wispy autumn trees. The soft, dappled lighting and undulating shadows give the work a quiet, peaceful atmosphere that was characteristic of much of Bateman’s work. The stillness of the scene evokes the reflective nature of the church itself, a place for contemplation and solace.
The only human presence is the small figure of a woman, sweeping the path leading to the church. She recedes into the shadows, almost becoming part of the landscape itself. Her dark clothing contrasts with the brightness of the sky and the illumination of the stone walls of the church, emphasising the majesty of this small building.
635 mm x 647 mm
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