Night (1930)
Medium:Pen and Ink
Measurements:38.2 x 26.6cm
Tour Stop no 1

The Bungo, 17 Nithsdale Rd

G41 2AL

Provenance:Private collection
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Night was drawn by Hannah Frank in 1930 and was published in Glasgow University Magazine and displayed at the Royal Glasgow Institute in the same year.

This drawing showcases Hannah Frank’s mastery of both highly detailed elements and unadorned planes of black and white. A singular plant is detailed across the width of the drawing, starting from the bottom and at times forming high peaks reaching upwards. It appears as if this floral element is made of individual delicate flowers placed upon, and adjacent to, one another, creating a large floral mass that covers much of the pictorial frame.

In the foreground of the image six figures stand, partially obscured by the multitude of flowers, and seen emerging from the right-hand side of the image. It is as if the figures materialise from within the bush of flowers. The two figures seen in the bottom right are drawn in profile, and both hold a narrow cylindrical object to their mouths; they are probably playing the flute. Only their chests and arms are visible, the rest being hidden by the floral bushes. While the first figure looks straight in front of him, the second one, slightly above the first and to the left, looks up. Above them, slightly to the left, the upper body of a female figure appears. She is naked, her bare breasts – a body part the artist often chooses to hide behind dresses – are unobscured. While her body faces the left of the drawing, she looks towards the right, as if alerted by something happening behind her. A masculine figure is drawn behind her, his head appearing slightly above the female figure, with the remainder of his body obscured by the plant matter. Towards the left-hand side, two other female figures emerge, depicted in profile. One of them also only showcases her upper body and directs her attention upwards. The other figure’s body stands below the frame, exposing her bust and head only; she gazes downwards. They are drawn in the same manner as the first one; all three women are adorned with flowers around their neck and head. Their floral necklaces, naked bodies, and hair differentiate them from the artist’s usual depiction of figures.

After focusing on these figures, the viewer’s gaze finds a second variety of flora; growing from beyond the lower edge of the drawing, slightly off centre to the left and reaching up in different directions. One stem stands in between the figures and creates a diagonal as it rises to the top right corner of the composition. The stems are rather thick and appear like small branches on which buds appear to be developing into flowers.

This floral scene is set against a plane of pure black. A window is drawn in the top left corner, taking a third of the drawing’s length and two thirds of its width. The window seems to be open. The bust of a woman appears, she leans on crossed arms which rest upon the window’s edge. Another woman is drawn behind her; her body is hidden under a black dress and the frame of the drawing only lets us see her open mouth. While the woman in the window looks out towards the landscape, she doesn’t seem to acknowledge the scene taking place underneath her. Can she not see the figures partially hidden in the bushes? Why then do the figures whose gazes are directed upwards appear to look towards her? This contributes to the feeling of mystery brought by the mystical creatures depicted in the foreground.