Monday, January 25, 2010

Who's Who?

What do those initials mean at the end of each blog or the catalogue entry in Picture of the Week? We thought we'd add a personal touch to our blog posts and let you know who's writing what.

Many of the catalogue entrys finish with EJ, which refers to the late Turner academic and author of the Watercolours & Drawings catalogue, Evelyn Joll. CB is Caroline Bacon, former Curator of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and JM is James McGregor, former Keeper of Fine and Decorative Arts, who together wrote the Print and Edward Bawden catalogues. JN is Julia Nurse of the Wellcome Trust who also co-wrote the Print Catalgue.

The blogs often finish KP, which is me, Kristian Purcell, Curatorial Assistant (and Keeper of Facebook, Twitter & Blogs). You may also find posts, facebook comments and tweets by Gemma Hutton, our Sales & Marketing officer, or Victoria Partridge, Keeper of Fine & Decorative Arts. If you have any feedback, comments or thoughts about the blog, Facebook or our presence on Twitter, let me know at KP

UPDATED: 8 June 2010
You can now find the curatorial team individually on Twitter

Tom Perret, Head of Collections and Exhibitions is on
Victoria Partridge, Keeper of Fine and Decorative Arts is on
Gemma Hutton, Sales and Marketing Officer is on
Kristian Purcell, Curatorial Assistant is on

Picture of the Week No. 8 - William Orpen

We're now in to the last week of our Edward Bawden exhibition. It has been really well received by the press and public alike and we are very grateful to all those who have supported the exhibition and come along to film screenings, lectures and workshops. There's been a real buzz around the place while this show has been on, and that has been helped by the popularity of the specially commissioned Mark Hearld print and the addition of works from the St. Judes Gallery artists and the fantastic cards, notebooks and gifts that rush out of the new shop as soon as we get them in! Overall, this show has really established Bedford Gallery (which only a year ago was still largely a building site) as a top class exhibition space, which is a great thing for Bedford as a whole.

This week's picture of the week is an incredibly charming drawing by the Irish portraitist and war artist, William Orpen. KP


Portrait of a Girl

pencil on paper, 28.1 × 20.6 cm
inscribed on reverse: W.ORPEN

Orpen was born in Ireland and studied at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin, before going to the Slade from 1897-9 where his brilliance rivaled that of Augustus JOHN, winning the Slade prize for Play Scene with Hamlet. He debuted at the N.E.A.C. with a portrait of John in 1900.

From 1917-19 he was an official war artist, attending the Peace Conference in Paris as official painter. He was known mainly for his portraits and portrait groups and in the 1920s was referred to as ‘England’s most popular painter’. Orpen was knighted in 1918 and elected R.A. in 1919.

It has been suggested that this portrays Mary, Orpen’s eldest daughter, born in 1902. Known in the family as Bunny, she appears as a child in a number of Orpen’s paintings and drawings.

PROVENANCE: Professor Isaacs, from whom purchased by Gallery, January 1960.
EXHIBITIONS: Watercolours and Drawings from The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, no.67.
NOTES: Sheet taken from a sketchbook.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lunchtime Lectures

List of Downloadable Lectures for our series of free lunchtime lectures. More will be added from past future programmes on to this page over time.

2nd December Bawden and his Circle Victoria Partridge

6th January Eric Ravilious Victoria Partridge

20th January Edward Bawden: Art vs. Design Kristian Purcell

Edward Bawden - Art vs. Design Lecture Text

Thank you to everyone who came along to the last of our series of lectures to accompany the Edward Bawden exhibition. There were lots of Friends and familiar faces in a full turn-out for 'Edward Bawden - Art vs. Design'.

If you missed the lecture you can read it by downloading it here.

Thanks again, KP

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A History of the World in 100 objects

Yesterday (Monday 18th Jan) the BBC launched it's ambitious new project in partnership with the British Museum - as well as museums and individuals across the country. The aim is to tell the history of the world from 2,000,000BCE through to the present via objects in the public collections of our museums. The core of the project is a series of 100 15 min programmes on individual objects from the British Museum by Neil MacGregor on Radio 4 at 9.45am each day (see here for more details). Participation by other galleries and museums is through the BBC website, special displays, and podcasts. At the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery we've begun our participation by including William Burges' (1827-1881) exquisite decanter that he designed for himself to celebrate the publication of his 1865 text 'Art & Industry'. It features on the BBC site here and can also be seen in the lower gallery of Bedford Gallery, initially until 31st January. KP

Monday, January 18, 2010

Picture of the Week no. 7 - William Blake

To celebrate the fantastic news that Tate Britain has bought 8 recently discovered works on paper by William Blake, this weeks picture of the week is a stunning work that was on display in Tate Britain last year in the Gothic Nightmares exhibition. The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child is a dynamic composition that epitomises Blake's ideas on good and evil, which he saw as being two essential and opposite forces that were needed in balance and the idea that Good or 'Reason' should win over Evil or 'Energy' was an erroneous one.KP

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827)

The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child, 1793-4

pen and watercolour on paper, 29.5 ´ 44.2 cm
inscribed on reverse: £5-5

Accession no.: P.272

This is a slightly later development of the design on plate IV of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, dated 1790 on one copy but almost certainly not completed until 1793. The watercolour was the basis for the large colour print of 1795 which is in reverse, and must have been painted between these two dates.

A complex stylistic and iconographic link with the watercolour of Los and Orc (Butlin no.225) makes it possible to identify the tethered figure as Orc and the figure holding the child as Los. The figure of the child and its relationship to the ‘Good’ Angel, and indeed the general composition, are close to Blake’s engraving after Stothard for one of the illustrations to Joseph Ritson’s Select Collection of English Songs, 1793, I, p.170.

PROVENANCE: Mrs. Blake; sold to C.A. Tulk or brother-in-law Sigismund Stolterforth; by descent to Mrs. Gladys Nottidge; Sotheby’s 10 December 1958, lot 95, bought by P&D Colnaghi Ltd, for the Gallery.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Picture of the Week No.6 - Harold Gilman

A Beautiful pen and ink drawing for you to enjoy this week by one of a number of talented early 20th century artists killed before their time. Gilman wasn't killed in either of the wars like so many of his contemporaries, but died of the Spanish Flu epidemic that followed the First World War. KP
HAROLD GILMAN (1876-1919)House at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1918

pen and ink on paper, 41.8 x 54 cm
inscribed: H. Gilman

Accession No.:P.172

Drawn in 1918 on the artist’s visit to Canada, where he was commissioned to paint Halifax Harbour for Canadian War Records. It is a fine example of Gilman’s use of a pointillist technique to indicate the house and surrounding trees.

Born in Somerset, Gilman studied painting at the Hastings Art School, later transferring to the Slade, where he met Spencer GORE. In 1906 he became a member of the Fitzroy group which included SICKERT, Gore, and GINNER; in 1911 he was a founding member of the Camden Town Group. Gilman died in the Spanish ’flu epidemic of 1919. Afterwards Wyndham LEWIS wrote: ‘ I consider his death a flat contradiction to every feeling that one had about his destiny’.

PROVENANCE: Mrs Sylvia Gilman, the artist’s widow; Lefevre Gallery, from whom purchased by Gallery, January 1958.
EXHIBITIONS: Camden Town Group Exhibition, Southampton, Southampton Art Gallery, 1951, no.40; Harold Gilman, London, Tate Gallery, 1954, no.59, pl.6; Arts Council, Drawings of the Camden Town Group, 1961, no.31; Watercolours and Drawings from The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, no.69, illus. pl.vii; Watercolours from Bedford, Norwich, Castle Museum, 1965, no.14; Harold Gilman, An English Post-Impressionist, Colchester, The Minories, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, and Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, 1969, no.60; The Camden Town Group, Bedford, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, 1969, no.13.
REFERENCES: A. Causey & R. Thomson, Harold Gilman, 1981, exhib. cat., p.90.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bawden - Master of the Linocut Lecture notes

Here's another of our lunchtime lectures for you to enjoy - Edward Bawden: Master of the Linocut. Originally delivered by Victoria Partridge, Keeper of Fine & Decorative Arts on October 21st 2009.

Click here to read text with pictures (5.2MB).

I'll put all the lectures together in one easy download page tagged on the right hand menu when we have a few more.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ravilious Lecture Text

For many years the lunchtime lectures at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford gallery has been a popular feature of our programme. In our desire to make access as easy for all (particularly on a day when entry to the gallery has been inhibited by snow) we are going to start posting the lectures on this blog. Initially they will be text only but as we navigate all the copyright issues images will follow. We hope to get as many of the recnt talks up over the next few weeks.

Eric Ravilious Lecture - 06/01/10

Monday, January 4, 2010

Picture of the Week No.5 - James Tissot

Happy New Year from all at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum! We're hoping this is going to be a fantastic year for all our development plans, and with some fantastic exhibitions and events at the musuem and the new Bedford Gallery exhibition space planned its going to be a memorable year. The first 8 months of Bedford Gallery have been fantastic with great responses to Treasures, Abram Games and Edward Bawden exhibitions and its first birthday in April will come round quickly. Please feel free to comment on this blog about the exhibitions or your experiences of the new space. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook too, links are on the righthand side of the page. Here's one of my favourites for the first Picture of the Week for 2010. KP

James J. TISSOT (1836 - 1902)
The Trafalgar Tavern, 1878

etching & drypoint, 35 ´ 24.8 cm (plate)
39.5 ´ 28.8 cm (sheet)
inscribed: in plate J.J Tissot 1878

Accession no: P.508
PROVENANCE: Leicester Galleries, from whom purchased by Gallery, 1965.
EXHIBITED: London, Leicester Galleries, 1972.
REFERENCES: N. R. Marshall & M. Warner, James Tissot, Victorian Life/Modern Love, 1999, pp68, no.22, illus.
NOTES: 2nd of 2 states.

Tissot's interest in printmaking began in Paris in 1860. In the space of two years he created five small portrait prints, including one of his friend and fellow artist Edgar DEGAS. His introduction to etching most probably came about through his circle of friends at this time, most notably WHISTLER, MANET, and FANTIN-LATOUR amongst others, all of whom were keen etchers.

In 1877 Tissot had published a portfolio of ten of his prints, possibly as a response to Whistler's Thames Set, 1871. Tissot's group differed somewhat from Whistler's as he also included other prints not directly related to the Thames, including The Rubens Hat and Ramsgate. His graphic work varied considerably in subject matter, including versions of successful oil paintings, views of the Thames, a series based on his experiences during the Paris Commune (Souvenir du si├Ęge de Paris, c.1882/3) and also more contemplative portraits of his mistress Helen Newton, and the garden at his studio house at Grove End, St John's Wood. Tissot often re-worked the plates quite heavily between states; in the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich for example, the first state has a 'clear' sky, whereas in the second state (as here) the sky has become overcast and 'stormy'.


What's On: Janurary

Exhibition Edward Bawden @BedfordGallery until 31st January
Exhibition Star-Gazing until @BedfordGallery 31st January
Exhibition CARNIVAL! @BedfordMusuem from 16th January
Sun 3rd: Winds of Exchange closes
Wed 6th: Lunchtime Talk- Eric Ravilious 1 - 1.30pm @BedfordGallery
Thur 7th: Reminiscence Coffee Morning 11am - 12.30pm @BedfordMuseum
Tue 12th: Friends Lecture - Treasures I have found in the Gallery by Tom Perrett, Head of Collections 7.30pm, £6 @BedfordGallery
Sat 16th: Carnival! opens - Carnival art and costumes until Sun 18th April Bedford Museum
Sat 16th: Saturday Archaeology Workshop (SAW) Astronomy & Archaeology - Ancient Calendars Contact Susannah Oliver on 01234 217418 to join SAW Bedford Museum
Wed 20th: Lunchtime Talk: Edward Bawden - Art vs Design 1 - 1.30pm Bedford Gallery
Thur 21st: Film Night Hue & Cry (1947) @BedfordGallery late opening, film commences at 7pm
Sat 30th: Rock, Fossils and Minerals Day - Bedfordshire & Luton Geology Group answer your geological queries. 1 - 4pm @BedfordMuseum
Sun 31st Jan: Last day of Edward Bawden exhibiton 2-5pm @BedfordGallery