In a review of Jamieson’s memorial exhibition in 1938, Jan Gordon identified a stylistic distinction between those paintings executed prior to the Great War, and those made afterwards. Those before she categorised as “substance”, reflecting the influence of Manet; those afterwards she categorised as “shadow”, reflecting the increased importance to the artist in that period of capturing the effects of light and atmosphere and the greater influence of Monet and Constable. Sunset, Versailles, seems to bridge the gap between these two categories; whilst the brushstrokes are bold, energetic and full of body, the way in which Jamieson captured the unique light of the ‘golden hour’ is quite exquisite and evocative of Constable’s work.
It was not only Jamieson’s stylistic concerns that changed after the war. To augment a meagre income, the artist and his wife decided to teach, at home and abroad, and gave sketching classes every summer. The destinations of these summer painting trips are largely unrecorded, other than by the evidence of the exhibited paintings themselves, but it seems that the couple revisited with their students a number of the French and Belgian harbours, towns and gardens on which Alexander’s reputation had been built prior to the war.
In his foreword to Jamieson’s memorial exhibition, Sir John Lavery wrote, “He dipped his brush in light and air … Many a time … I have been struck by his wonderful perception and clear judgement, his keen sense of colour and composition, allied with masterly technique, which enabled him to convey his impression in the simplest language.”
This could have been written in reference to Sunset, Versailles itself; from a few paces this work perfectly embodies the forms and atmosphere of a French sunset on a summer’s evening, but up close is a masterful cacophony of surprisingly few brushstrokes – an example of the ‘simple language’ to which Lavery refers.