Olga Farmer

Olga Farmer (British, b. 1900-d. after 1960)

Painted circa 1930 by Olga Farmer, this beautifully composed still-life has as its central motif Chinese lanterns, whose orange colour echoes the red-orange of the apples in a dish on the table beneath them. In the mirror behind the vase can be seen part of a landscape composition framed in a heavy gold frame, hinting that the still-life was painted in Farmer’s studio surrounded by other completed works and works still in progress. For a moment, the landscape that is reflected in the mirror and is, thus, situated behind the viewer, appears to be a real landscape seen through a window until one notices the gilded frame in place of a window-frame that surrounds it.

This clever play of perspectives imbues the still-life with a great sense of depth and Farmer’s adept handling of colour and her skilled use of light and shade (note the gleam on the black vase and the daylight that floods the oval of the mirror) elevate the painting to a delightful example of the still-life from the decade immediately preceding the Second World War. Little is known of Olga Farmer or her body of work, although the British artist Walter Farmer (1870-1947) painted her portrait and was surely related to her.