« | Home | »

‘Acts of Mercy’


In a 2003 piece for the LRB on Piero della Francesca, Nicholas Penny wrote:

A fine example of their combined influence can be found in the entrance hall of London’s Middlesex Hospital, where the four large canvases of The Acts of Mercy by the now almost entirely forgotten Frederick Cayley Robinson are preserved beside the usual brash modern signage. They were painted for the hospital’s previous building during the First World War (the two best are dated 1915 and 1916), and their hushed atmosphere, tense geometry and subdued colour scheme respond to the grim anxieties of the Home Front, as well as to their original classical setting. The figures wait – for the doctor, for food, for peace. A columnar tree cuts across ashlar. Greys tending to lilac, mauve and olive green set off the plain white bowls of the orphans and the clean bandages of the wounded. The glowing oil lamp in the foreground and the sash window illuminated in the sober terrace beyond are at once marvellous and mundane, as light always is in Piero’s work.

The paintings are now on show at the National Gallery until 17 October.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement