John BARKER | Sorrowing mother

England 1867 – Australia 1943
Australia from 1924

Sorrowing mother c.1916
oil on canvas
' J. Barker ' lower left
70.8 (h) x 90.2 (w) cm
Purchased 2005
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 2005.258

John Barker painted Sorrowing mother in Torquay, Britain, during the First World War, before migrating to Western Australia in 1924 as an experienced artist. In this moving portrait Barker expressed the intense grief so many experienced during the war, showing a woman slumped over a table in despair, having just received a letter from the War Office telling her that her son had been killed in action. The emotional intensity is dramatised by the starkness of the setting.

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