One of the moonlit works that Julius Olsson, father of the original St Ives School of painters, was most famed for. Unusually, with its low horizon, this composition is dominated by the moonlit sky and light-funnelling cloud structure.
Julius Olsson, father of the first St Ives' School of painters, was famed for his beautiful renderings of moonlit seascapes captured off the northwest coast of Cornwall. The most famous example of his romantic naturalism is ‘Moonlit Shore’, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1911 where it was purchased by the Trustees of the Chantry Bequest and presented to the Tate Gallery, in whose collection it remains. The present work, whilst more modest, shares a number of executional details with Moonlit Shore; the moon is just out of frame but illuminates the boldly painted cloud structures. A floodlit pool is cast upon the ocean, whilst the moonlight picks out the surf of the breaking waves in the foreground but the headlands are more simply rendered by the artist, lying as they do in shadow. The palette is cerulean blue, yellows and white. Olsson was the master of such nighttime seascapes and Moonlit Sky is his impressionistic rendering of a Cornish night when the cloud structures appear to funnel the moonlight onto the sea below.