A Choice Painting

Eight of us had a delightful evening on Wednesday 29 May, discussing our choices of painting to hang in our homes – money and space no object!

We learned much about the topic – and about one another!

“Lady Helen Vincent” by John Singer Sargent which is displayed in the Birmingham Museum of Art. We were introduced to the “Sargent in Fashion” exhibition at the Tate Gallery and the stunning rendition of fabric textures in portraits of notable persons. Through these portraits he earned a living and enabled him to expand into more Impressionist landscapes later.

“Les Parapluies” (Umbrellas) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The painting is shared between Dublin and the National Gallery and is currently on loan to the Leicester Museum until 1st September. It was painted in 2 separate stages. We delved into fascinating observational detail e.g. the milliner’s assistant (the only one without a hat) and why the extra shoe in the girl’s hoop?!

“Hunters in the Snow” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a 1565 in oils on wood, on show in Vienna. The detail is excellent for such an early painting and so much is going on in the scene. It has personal association from using it in teaching 7-8 year-old children. It is said to be the ‘most copied secular Christmas card’!

One member likes pictures of places of her locality and chose “Shields’ on the River Tyne” by JMW Turner, which is a very small painting with lovely colouring. We learned Turner was a very prolific and eccentric artist.  He even rowed a boat in London to avoid a census once! The picture shows labourers shovelling coal from small boats onto a cargo ship at night.The glow of the furnace at the right contrasts with the moon’s cool brilliance and the deep blues of sky and sea. This painting is ‘a reminder of how our country used to be brilliant at making things”…..!

“The Kiss” by Klimt and is the one the member already has hanging in her lounge, of course.

“The Light of the World” by the Pre-Raphaelite Holman Hunt. The original can be seen in the chapel of Keble College, Oxford. A second, smaller, brighter version is in the Manchester Art Gallery and a third, later one in St. Paul’s Cathedral. In it the allegorical figure of Christ is standing at a closed door with no visible handle on the outside. It can only be opened when the soul inside lets the Christ in. It is heavy with symbolism e.g. the lantern is the light of conscience, the halo the light of salvation etc.

Another member wanted a nature picture, somewhere she would like to rest and be, and chose “On the Washburn” by JMW Turner. It shows a peaceful river scene with woodland above, and a lone kingfisher detail on a rock. The river is a tributary of the River Wharf in the Yorkshire Dales.