Category Archives: Gallery visits

Giovanni Baccelli by Thomas Gainsborough 1782

Giovanna was a famous Venetian ballet dancer and the mistress of John Sackville the 3rd Duke of Dorset who commissioned this portrait of her.

She is depicted in a costume from one of her ballets. She was described by one person as light, airy and elegant which this portrait captures well. Gainsborough has used light brush strokes, particularly on the dress, which helps show the graceful movements of the dancer.

The artist clearly wants to show her vivaciousness and beauty as it was painted for her lover. In the corner you can see a tambourine and flowers which add to the pictures air of dance and music and the arts.










Arthur Scargill by William Bowyer

A very interesting portrait of Miner’s Union leader Arthur Scargill, shown as most people would remember him, giving a speech. He has been painted in a way to show his passion and his conviction (particularly look at the pointing finger, the pursed lips and the stare in his eyes).

The viewers angle is very interesting as it is from below and to the side. Very similar to how he would have been filmed for TV back during his heyday. it works really well in terms of putting the viewer (of a certain age) back in that moment watching Arthur attacking Margaret probably at a union conference. It helps remind us of this social and cultural importance back in the 1980s. I assume that the painting was produced using photographs of the subject.

There is a certain degree of anger in his face, i wouldn’t say that the artist was necessarily a fan of Scargill as it is not sympathetic or idealised in any way.  The face has been painted using large brush strokes and patches of paint, it does not create a ‘beautiful’ image more of an impression of a very serious man at work. The suit and tie also adds to the sober feel. Interestingly the background is painted red just in case you were not aware of which side of the political divide Arthur was on.







Manchester Art Gallery visit part 2

Looking at the inside of the gallery most of the art is not on the ground floor. There are a couple of rooms for temporary exhibitions but most of this floor is given over to the shop and the cafe. What is interesting about the cafe is that they have some of the galleries collection displayed in it including several Paul Nash paintings. This seems to be a deliberate blurring if the lines between the commercial and the purely artistic aims of the gallery. So you can gaze at artwork and be a consumer at the same time. Here is one of the Nash’s pictures displayed.


I suppose that having genuine article in the cafe does mean that even if you just end up in the cafe on your visit here you can still,  say that you did look at some of the work on display.

As stated before the bulk of the permanent collection is housed in the older part of the building.  It is arranged in a series of smaller galleries that start at the top of the entrance stairs to the left and take you around in a square back to the stairs on the right. They go in chronological order from the 18th century around to the Victoria period. There is also a room at the back of the gallery for 17th Century paintings and for Impressionism and post Impressionism which feel a bit detached from the main collection

As you go around the collection you see that some rooms are randomly themed, for example Gallery 1 is Face and Place, Gallery 6 The Highlands. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason behind this I assume that it relates to the paintings that the gallery has to display and which of these they can plausibly group together in a theme.

What is quite interesting is that at the top of the stairs the gallery has exhibited some of their collection outside of the main galleries.

There is a clear theme to this display and it made a nice change from the chronological galleries around it.

I think possibly that people entering the Impressionist and Post Impressionist gallery would be a little disappointed with the contents as to my mind it does not in reality feature artwork from either. In fact the gallery only has work by two artists LS Lowery and Adolphe Valette. I did notice a comment made in the visitor book to this effect.

Currently on the ground floor in an excellent exhibition for the “Manchester Monet” Wynford Deerhurst.  This featured some excellent pictures, great information and also a couple of short films. Well worth a visit to the gallery on its own.




Manchester Art Gallery Visit part 1


On Saturday I embarked on my visit to Manchester Art Gallery to review the experience of it as a visitor. I now the gallery very well and regularly visit it. on this occasion I did look at it with different eyes however and I found the visit very thought provoking. I think what is particularly interesting about the gallery is that it really is a game of two halves. The front bit above is the original Victorian gallery (a very typical looking gallery for the time).The gallery had a big overhall in the last decade and inherited a brand new modern back part. you can see below to the left.


The two halves are linked by a glass walkway as you can see which gives the gallery a feeling of having to seperate bits. Generally, but not exclusively, the more modern art and the temporary galleries tend to be in the new bit and most of the classic (permanent) art is in the old bit. I think this does work quite well as it sets the scene for the visitor and prepares them for the art they are going to look at.

Entering the two parts of the building is a very different experience. you enter the old part to this which has a very classical feel and as you rise up the stairs to the galleries you are prepared to view some classic cannon art.


On the other hand, you enter the new part of the gallery to this view. which has a very modern more stripped down feel which suits the style of many of the temporary exhibitions that are held there. For example on the day I visited there was an exhibition on modern photography.











I have been writing my notes for the first assignment, basically information i can find on the internet and in books about Gauguin and the picture I selected. To be honest I have found this quite difficult as it is not as easy to find information on minor pictures by artists. I think in hindsight this will make me become more choosy about the picture I select in the future. perhaps a little research beforehand will be a good idea. Just so I can assess how hard or easy it is going to be to do the work. I do find the categories suggested to make notes within (as below) are quite restrictive when it comes to talking about pictures in particular. perhaps they work better for certain art movements or historical periods. it is easy to fill in lots under the “styles and movements” header, but much harder to find much to put in “Changes to status or training of artists”. anyway I soldier on to Manet now followed by Lowry.


  • Political, economic or social factors
  • Changes to status or training of artists
  • Development of materials and processes
  • Styles and movements
  • Inside and outside influences
  • Critics, thinkers and historians

My first sketch

I first have to say that I am absolutely no artist in any shape or form. When I saw that part of the course was doing some sketching I was a little worried, but I then read it is not assessed so some relief. I did my first sketch at the weekend. The plan was to do it in Manchester Art Gallery but I got cold feet so bought some postcards and did it at home.


It turned out OK as I went for a deliberately simple picture to copy. The process of sketching did help me to appreciate how the picture was composed and executed a little better. So as a first experience it was OK but still not sure I will be sketching in the gallery for a while yet.