Period: The war years

The house opposite The house opposite
painted in London, 1941
oil on cardboard 60.7 x 39.6 cm
signed l.r., oil “STELLA/BOWEN”, not dated
private collection

The Second World War affected Stella Bowen profoundly, but she recorded the emotional pain it caused her in terms of the physical damage evident around her. To Bowen, the home had long represented peace, but this peace – in the sense of the physical security of the home – was now clearly threatened. The house opposite retains Bowen’s familiar motif of an interior with a view through a window, but the house we see opposite is partly destroyed and there is no sign of life within. What should be a private sanctuary has been scarred, violated, and exposed by the bombing.

The potted primrose, alive and flourishing on the window sill, is a symbol of Bowen’s belief in the regeneration of the human spirit.