Category Archives: Sketches

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.







Sketch no. 2

Second sketch actually done in the gallery. I was brave and did a quick sketch in Sheffield Art Gallery today. Please see below for comparison, not good I know but recognisable at least. It’s ‘Jeanne Paysanne Breton’ by Roderic O’Conor.


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.