Friday, 6 June 2014

Victoria Art Gallery in Bath

Last Saturday, I spent the day in Bath (Somerset, England).

I visited again the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, next to the famous Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon. The building was designed in 1897 by John McKean Brydon and was named to celebrate Queen Victoria's sixty years on the throne.

Victoria Art Gallery, at the end of the Pulteney Bridge

The Pulteney Bridge has shops built on it on both side. Unless you come from the street along the Avon, you could cross it without realising you were on a bridge.

Victoria Art Gallery

The main entrance of the Victoria Art Gallery

The side entrance, with a statue of Queen Victoria by A. C. Lucchesi.

The carving on Queen Victoria’s dress is intricate and delicate.

Queen Victoria’s statue  by A. C. Lucchesi.

I saw, on the ground floor, the Bath Society of Artists 109th Annual Exhibition (5 April - 31 May). Very nice and inspiring works exhibited there.

I then went to the upper floor where the permanent collection is exhibited. You are not allowed to take photographs of the works (even those in the public domain…) but I could take a general photograph from the entrance to give you an idea of the exhibition space. They kept the gallery the way it would have been in Victorian time, with paintings sometimes hung one on top of the other.

Permanent collections gallery

The paintings are reproduced on the Your Paintings site. With the limited space, they have to rotate the works exhibited. Below is my selection

My two favourite paintings in the gallery, in this order, are:

The Watersplash - Oil on canvas (116.8 x 94 cm) by Henry Herbert La Thangue – Painted in 1900
The elements that make this painting work are: the composition (with the perspective leading the eye towards the boy), the dappled light, and the way the geese are arranged. Notice how the geese in the background have their head raised high and how, as they approach the water, they bend their neck more and more. This creates almost a cinematic illusion — you can see the motion happening along the way.

Henry Herbert La Thangue (19 January 1859 – 21 December 1929) attended Dulwich College, trained briefly in London and then at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. He was influenced by the Barbizon school. He painted open-air landscape painters and people leaving and working in the countryside.

Portrait of 'Pilu', a Performing Dog - Oil on canvas (38.4 x 30.5 cm) by John Charlton – Painted in 1910

I also liked the following paintings:

The sketchers - Oil on canvas (50.8 x 60.1 cm) by Algermon Talmage (in 1930). This painting in the Impressionist style, with its backlit clouds, has a nice, creamy texture and luninous colours.

Study and Sketch of Two Figures - Oil on canvas (33 x 43 cm) by Frank Brangwyn

Thomas Rumbold (1736–1791), and Son - Oil on canvas (234 x 153 cm) by Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough was one of the most popular artists of the 18th Century. He remains famous to this day for his portraits. He established his portrait studio in Bath in 1759 and stayed until 1774, when he left for London.

'Old Tom Thumb', Richard Brent (1682–1790) - Oil on canvas (61 x 43.2 cm) by Thomas Barker – painted in 1789.

I was struck by the painting of 'Old Tom Thumb'. The portrait of this old wrinkled man is more luminous and subtle than the photograph shows. Beyond the painting itself, the story of the model is quite extraordinary. Here is the notice for this painting on Your Painting site:

“Richard Brent was a pedlar nicknamed Tom Thumb who worked the Bristol and Bath area. He married four times, had 32 children, and died in Bristol, blind and deaf, aged about 110.

Thomas Barker painted old ‘Tom Thumb’ at least three times. Bath ladies and gentlemen were so enthusiastic about this portrait that they raised money to give the pedlar a weekly income in his old age.”

Thomas Jones Barker was from Bath. He trained in France and had a successful career in Paris, and then in London.

The Victoria Art Gallery

Victoria Art Gallery in Bath
Bridge Street,

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