Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Visit to Bristol´s City Museum & Art Gallery

I recently went back to Bristol´s City Museum & Art Gallery. The museum is a typical city museum with collections of fossils, minerals, natural history, eastern art, world wildlife, Egyptology, archaeology. It also counts seven galleries of fine and applied art.

The Art galleries have a few treasures worth the journey. They have a good collection of classic paintings as well as contemporary ones. I however spent most of my time studying the impressionist paintings in the collection:
  • Eugène Boudin, “Harbour scene”. This harbour scene is based on some wonderful grey harmonies. The artist captured the essence of the boats with their white sails and riggings. This small painting must have been started on location and finished in the studio, as Boudin used to work. It retains the freshness of a painting executed from nature. The notice had and interesting piece of information regarding the relationship between Boudin and Claude Monet and the influence Boudin had on the great impressionist painter. Boudin persuaded Monet, then 17 years old, to work with him from nature during summer 1858. Monet declared: “My eyes were finally opened an I really understood nature; I learned at the same time to love it.”

  • Alfred Sisley “Entrance to a village” (c.1880). The subject is representative of Sisley’s works: the centre of the painting is occupied by a tree. Two ladies are walking on the road and, in the middle ground, the roof of a house is the only orange touch In the painting. The brushwork is very loose and free. The clouds are vibrant with pink and purple shadows.
  • A large pastel by Pierre Auguste Renoir “The Two Sisters” (c. 1889).You can see a reproduction of this pastel here. This is a rather spontaneous pastel, not overworked. The figures have the roundness of the girls painted by the artist in other works.
  • Georges-Pierre Seurat “Sunset” (c. 1881). This small work on panel predates the pointillism period that made Seurat famous. In the background on the right, a house is lost in the vegetation. In the foreground, two trees are anchored into a blazing field. The work is based on a contrast between the ultramarine trees and the orange creamy warm clouds. It is also interesting to see how the painter used the grain of the wood to create texture in the foreground.
  • Edouard Vuillard, “Interior with madame Hessel and her dog” plays on an unusual composition. Most of the surface of the painting represents the floor and the piece of furniture and the figure are pushed to the upper end of the picture, giving an impression of space. This picture was painted on unprimed cardboard that shows in some areas of the painting. The unprimed surface also gives a mat finish to the painting.

Location of the museum

Bristol's City Museum & Art Gallery,
Queen's Road,
Bristol, BS8 1RL
Opening hours
Open 7 days a week, 10am - 5pm.

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