Woman and Trees

Medium:Pen and Ink
Measurements:41 x 28cm
Tour Stop no 3

Transylvania Shop and Coffee, 462 Victoria Road

G42 8YU

Provenance:Private collection
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Woman and Trees was drawn by Hannah Frank in 1931 and is a haunting depiction of a woman gliding silently past silhouetted trees, her long pleated dress dragging through a grouping of flowers. Seemingly cast in night-time, the figure’s bent arms give the impression that she is sleepwalking; however, with her eyes open and head tilted downwards determinedly, the figure’s movement appears to be rather conscious and resolute, raising the question: where is this figure headed and why? Although peaceful, this uncertainty contributes to the drawing’s eerie and foreboding atmosphere.

The dominant feature of this composition is this female figure, elongated across the height of the drawing and facing towards the left. Due to the bright white of her face, hair and hands, this figure becomes the focal point of the composition. She wears a solid black long-sleeved robe which flows to the ground. Because of her black outfit, the woman resembles a tree, thus reflecting the surrounding environment.

The ground on which the female figure stands is highly detailed, and the perspective of the piece allows the viewer’s eyes to gaze along the field and up towards the background of the drawing that is filled with detailed, fine lines. This can be interpreted as a skyline or a body of water. Drawn very close to each other and with an irregular pattern, the lines that Frank uses in the background of this work mimic vibrations. The irregularity of the lines therefore create aquatic-like movement within the piece. The woods that the female figure stands within, are cut off before the viewer can see upper branches and crown of the tree, thus emphasising the flora’s vast height and the minuteness of the woman that Frank depicts.

 Woman and Trees appears to be a second rendition of Frank’s earlier drawing A Look That’s Fastened to the Ground, created four years earlier.  Frank worked in a constant state of improvement and revision; by comparing the different renditions of certain scenes, the ways in which Frank developed artistically can be further understood and appreciated. Omitting the direct textual reference as well as simplifying and stylizing the forms, in Woman and Trees, Frank updates the scene of her earlier work A Look That’s Fastened to the Ground to encompass a more distinctive and unique style. In addition to this, potentially due to a change in her conception of melancholy, Frank evolves the figure that originally symbolized melancholy in the earlier work to appear less passive, instead assuming a forceful and determined presence.