Artworks chosen by members of the Friends

William Etty

Artwork of the Month June 2022 – William Etty (1787-1849), Male Nude with Arms Up-Stretched

In this essay Dorothy Nott explores the controversial nature of William Etty’s nudes, both male and female, and how they may have been seen in his lifetime and how they can be seen today in the twenty-first century.

The Birdcage by Barbara SM Smith

Artwork of the Month April 2022

Peter Gibbard, formerly Chair of the Friends, writes about a little-known woman artist, an example of whose work is included in the exhibition Beyond Bloomsbury: Life, Love & Legacy held in York Art Gallery in 2022.  

The Life and Work of Barbara Stanger Mackenzie Smith (1902-1996, from 1942 Barbara Morrison)

The Groves Quartet

The Groves Quartet

Artwork of the Month for September 2021 has been chosen by Peter Gibbard, former Chair of the Friends. The painting, dated 1854, is by a little-known artist, Ann Beaumont, the earliest woman artist to feature in the Gallery’s collection.

The painting depicts the Groves Quartet, a musical ensemble of York worthies, posing with their instruments near the Museum Gardens.

H.19 (Canticle) by John Golding

Artwork of the Month for August 2121 is a 20th-century abstract painting from York Art Gallery’s collection. Intriguingly titled H. 19 (Canticle), the work is by the artist John Golding (1929-2012), who was also an art historian, curator, and educator. Professor Michael White of the History of Art Department at the University of York explores how these multiple careers may have influenced Golding’s artistic practice.

The Lamp by Amy B Atkinson

The Lamp by Amy B Atkinson

Peter Gibbard, former Chair of the Friends of York Art Gallery, has chosen an evocative study of the use of light as his Artwork of the Month. ‘The Lamp’ is an oil painting by a little-known woman artist, Amy Beatrice Atkinson (1859-1816),  who led an interesting life and had family connections to the City of York.  

‘Refreshing the Weary’ by Robert Hannah

Artwork of the Month for July 2021 is Refreshing the Weary by Robert Hannah (1812-1909). 

Richard Green, Curator of York Art Gallery from 1977 to 2003, explores the fascinating details of one of the collection’s finest Victorian paintings of a modern-life subject and reveals how its true identity was belatedly rediscovered.


Robert Hannah (1812–1909), Refreshing the Weary, oil on canvas, 134.5 x 113 cm, York Art Gallery, YORAG 1190
Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: :: Public Domain

Portrait by Parmigianino

The Portrait of a Young Man with a Book by Parmigianino is our Artwork of the Month for May 2021.

The painting is a treasure of the Gallery’s collection and a significant example of the work of this great artist. It is also a personal favourite of Anne Hall, a previous chairman of the Friends, who discusses it here.

Parmigianino (1503-40), Portrait of a Young Man with a Book, c.1530, oil on canvas
Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: :: Public Domain

Portrait of Charlotte Fitzroy

Artwork of the Month for April 2021 is one of the highlights of the Gallery collection, the portrait, by Sir Peter Lely, of Charlotte Fitzroy, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles II. The child is shown accompanied by an unidentified page boy.

The painting was acquired with help from the Friends and is discussed here by Grace England, the latest MA student in Art History to be sponsored by the Friends. 

Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), Portrait of Charlotte Fitzroy, c.1669-c.1679, oil on canvas
Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: :: Public Domain

Stafford Pottery Plaque

Artwork of the Month for March 2021 is an earthenware plaque which is on display in the Wall of Pots at York Art Gallery.

Sammi Scott, a PHD student at the University of York, explores how this unassuming tile relates to a complex history of copies, forgeries, translation and deception.

Stafford Pottery, Seated Hercules, c.1825-1855, earthenware plaque, 18x15x1 cm, York Art Gallery
Image courtesy of York Museums Trust :: :: CC BY-SA 4.0

Wentworth Woodhouse Centaurs

Peter Brown, formerly Director of Fairfax House, York, writes about two beautiful sculptures in the Gallery’s collection, the Wentworth Woodhouse Centaurs. Almost certainly the work of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, they were acquired by the Marquis of Rockingham in 1761 and purchased for York Corporation in 1949. They are displayed in the Burton Gallery. 

Old Centaur (Bound by Love), Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, c.1775
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

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