Frank Spenlove (1864-1933) was a Scottish artist specializing in genre scenes, particularly of a religious nature. In the painting Prayer Devotion, the artist depicted the scene in a characteristic way for the time. It was believed that a secular, genre religious scene could better introduce a contemplative mood than cult images.
Description of the painting:
The painting depicts the interior of a monumental church in a specific, cropped frame and from a lowered perspective. The space is almost empty. In the background of the painting we can see a woman kneeling on a kneeler, turned away from us, absorbed in prayer.
The unusual framing makes us feel as if we were in the pictured interior. The silence of the empty temple overwhelms us, and its massive architecture oppresses us. “Entering” the painting, we become witnesses of a very intimate scene, we feel like intruders and voyeurs, as if the woman’s private prayer – a conversation between her and God – was not intended for our eyes. The woman seems not to notice the presence of the viewer. The bowed head suggests that she is immersed in her own worries, which only increases the feeling of the inappropriateness of our presence, and at the same time makes us empathize with the woman’s grief.