Our Gallery talks moved online during lockdown.

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 :: https://yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk :: 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 :: https://yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk :: 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 ©

Gulliver and the Houyhnhnms

This month’s chosen artwork is ‘Gulliver reprimanded and silenced by his master when describing the horrors of war’ by Sawrey Gilpin (1733-1807)

The Friends’ Secretary Benjamin Hilliam, describes how the artist’s interest in animal welfare and anthropomorphism is reflected in his work.

Sawrey Gilpin (1733-1807), ‘Gulliver reprimanded and silenced by his master when describing the horrors of war’, oil on canvas
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

Kimono by Philip Wilson Steer

This month’s chosen artwork is The Kimono (1894) by Philip Wilson Steer.

Helena Cox, who is Curator at Beverley Art Gallery and currently completing a Doctorate at the University of York, discusses this small masterpiece, setting it in the context of Japonism, the craze for Japanese art which swept Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Philip Wilson Steer, Kimono, 1894, oil on canvas
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

Portrait of a young man, 1556

November’s Artwork of the Month has been chosen by Jeanne Nuechterlein, Reader in History of Art at the University of York, and member of the FYAG committee.

This intriguing portrait of a young man, painted in 1556, featured in the exhibition  ‘Making a Masterpiece: Bouts and Beyond, 1450-2020’, which Jeanne co-curated. Here she explains why the portrait has become a firm personal favourite, despite both the sitter and artist being unknown.

Unknown Netherlandish artist, Portrait of a Man, 1556, oil on wood, diameter 19.3 cm. York Art Gallery
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

Portrait of Henry Baines, Botanist of York

The portrait of Henry Baines, the botanist and creator of York’s Museum Gardens, was painted in 1874 by the Yorkshire artist Thomas Banks (1828-1896). Its recent conservation has been fully funded by the Friends of York Art Gallery.

Peter Hogarth, a member of the Friends, and co-author of The most fortunate situation: The Story of York’s Museum Gardens, writes about the portrait in the context of Baines’s life, career and family connections. 

Thomas Banks (1828 – 1896), Henry Baines (1793 – 1878) Botanist of York, 1874, oil on canvas. 
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

Alfred Wolmark by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

The bust of Alfred Wolmark by Henri Gaudier-Brzeskaby attracts the attention of visitors to the Burton Gallery at York Art Gallery, but who was he, and why was he sculpted by Gaudier-Brzeskaby?

Dorothy Nott investigates the background to this exceptionally striking work, exploring the life of both the sculptor and his subject. 

Henri Gautier Brzeska, Portrait Bust of Alfred Wolmark
Photo credit: York Museums Trust ©

Artwork of the Month – August 2020

Liverpool Docks at Night by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893).

Charles Martindale discusses this important new acquisition by the Gallery.

Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), Liverpool Docks at Night, 1870s, oil on canvas. York Museums Trust

Artwork of the Month – July 2020

Egyptian Head Disappearing into Descending Clouds (1961) by David Hockney

Peter Miller, President of the Friends, writes about this preparatory oil sketch by David Hockney, which was acquired by the Gallery in 1999, with financial support from the Friends.