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The Wood beyond the World was painted , the year before the great war. The First World War was a traumatic experience for Sims. In 1914, his eldest son was killed, and he worked for a time as a war artist in 1918. Post-war, his work changed track, and he began to develop religious and reclusive tendencies. He was upset at this time by criticism of his portrait of George V, which he destroyed. Despite receiving the honour of the keepership of the Royal Academy in 1920, he resigned and went to the United States to paint portraits, but became disgusted with society and abandoned portraiture in 1926. His final paintings, termed "Spirituals" (such as I am the Abyss and I am Light) featured naked figures against abstract apocalyptic backdrops. They were rejected by the artistic establishment for their baffling content and modernist style. In 1928, experiencing hallucinations, paranoia and insomnia, brought about by the horrific scenes he had witnessed as an official war artist and by his son's death, Sims committed suicide by drowning himself in the River Tweed near his home in St. Boswells, Scotland.
Shortly after his death, the Royal Academy made the decision to exhibit posthumously some of his final works, which they termed "Mystical" for want of any other classification. The RA president, Sir Frank Dicksee, described them as "in marked contrast to all his previous work, and indicat(ing) a violent change of mentality". A Times review of a further nine pictures from this period likened them to works of El Greco, "using his expedient of torn atmospheric forms for emotional purposes".
|Height||84.00 cm||(33.07 inches)|
|Width||115.00 cm||(45.28 inches)|
|Depth||4.00 cm||(1.57 inches)|