U3A Shipley store tours

The local U3A group has kindly given us the scripts from some of their store tours, to help our visitors enjoy our collections from home.

'The Molo, Venice, Looking West, in the style of the artist Antonio Canaletto

Antonio Canaletto (style of) (1697-1768), ‘Grand Quay, Venice: Church of Santa Maria Della Salute’ or ‘The Molo, Venice, Looking West’, oil on canvas, c1750

The name on the frame of the painting is Luca Carlevaris (1663 - 1730) yet the date of the work is given as 1735 – 1765. A bit of a mystery! Carlevaris was an Italian painter and engraver of landscapes. He studied mathematics, science, perspective and architecture in order to follow his father’s profession before becoming an artist. He worked mostly in Venice and is regarded as the father of 18th century Venetian view painting (vedute) and his paintings of Venice are among the earliest Baroque depictions of the city. His interest in mathematics is reflected in his rigorous perspective settings and his works were the foundation on which Canaletto, who was a pupil of Carlevaris, built. However, because the costumes depicted are too late for Carlevaris, this painting has been dated as being produced in about 1750.

Caneletto (1697 -1768) was born in Venice, the son of Bernardo Canal. He served his apprenticeship with his father, a theatrical scene painter, and started to paint the daily life of the city and its people after becoming interested in vedute paintings. He studied under Carlevaris and produced a great number of paintings, which were bought by people from England. He came to London to paint scenes and to be near his clients who would buy them.

Grand Quay, Venice: Church of Santa Maria Della Salute’ or ‘The Molo, Venice, Looking West’ is full of detail and is lit from the left showing strong light and shade of cool, low, grey and green shadows. The view from the Molo (quay) shows the entrance to the Grand Canal at the right of the church of Santa Maria della Salute.

To the right of the quay there is a column of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, with a winged lion on top (the symbol of St. Mark and of Venice, and one of St. Theodore who was a previous patron saint. On the quay there are a number of temporary canvas booths. To the right at the foot of the column there are men with bird cages.

There is a stage with a performer and audience. There is washing hanging out. There are people on balconies observing the scenes below. To the front left there is a ship unloading, the moving of a barrel being observed by an official.

The lagoon is busy with gondolas ferrying people and other boats carrying out business. One would have to look at this painting for a long time to take in all the details.

William Bromley (1769-1842), ‘The Escape’, oil on canvas, c19 century

William Bromley (1769-1842), ‘The Escape’, oil on canvas, c19 century

William Bromley was an engraver and artist, apprenticed to an engraver named Wooding in London. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1786 and at the Society of Artists in 1790. He was employed to engrave several paintings commemorating the Napoleonic wars, including A.W. Devis's ‘Death of Nelson’ (1812) and Thomas Lawrence's portrait of the Duke of Wellington (1818). In 1822, Bromley began exhibiting engravings of the Elgin marbles. These were made for the trustees of the British Museum. He continued to exhibit these engravings nearly every year until 1835. Bromley was the first of a large family of engravers, including his sons John Charles and James Bromley.

The mood of this painting, 'The Escape' is captured by the muted use of a range of colour which creates and eerie but treacherous early morning scene. The pastel colours of the sky and lake contrast with the darker colours of the beautiful mountains surrounding the lake as well as the figures within the boat. It is a beautiful scene, which is marred by the events taking place on the Lake. 

Within the boat are apparently two women huddled in their cloaks at the back of the boat. They are heavily guarded by a well-dressed gentleman who may be a soldier guarding the women with a rifle at the ready. There are four oarsmen sailing the ship as fast as they can. All passengers are looking to their pursuers who seem to gaining fast. The artist creates tension and fear in this painting. Little information is available regarding the subject of this painting. However, perhaps it is the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was said to be disguised as a woman.

Also known as 'the Young Pretender', Princes Charles Edward Stuart was the grandson of the deposed Catholic King James VII of Scotland and II of England. He and his followers believed the throne of Great Britain rightfully belonged to the House of Stuart, and led the campaign, known as the Jacobite Risings of 1745, to overthrow King George II. Although the handsome prince and his troops experienced some successes in battle against the Hanoverian forces, Charles was eventually halted at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland and the Red Coats; the bloody clash was to be the last major battle ever fought on the British soil. The tale of the Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape is now legendary. On the run from his Hanoverian enemies, he desperately sought a ship in which to escape from Scotland. In the process, he and a few companions secretly trekked for five hundred miles over remote mountainous areas of the Western Isles and the North-West Highlands of Scotland. Eventually, he was rescued by friends, and taken to France.

David Wilkie Wynfield (1837-1887), ‘The Lady’s Knight’, oil on canvas, 186

David Wilkie Wynfield (1837-1887), ‘The Lady’s Knight’, oil on canvas, 1860

Wynfield was related to the Scottish artist David Wilkie. He studied at Leigh’s Art School in the 1850s. His first painting was accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition in 1859. Wynfield associated with a group of artists known as the St John’s Wood Clique. He painted many works set in medieval or Renaissance Europe concentrating on the romantic problems of couples and families.

In the 1860’s he became interested in photography. He developed a technique of shallow focus portrait photography. The combination of soft focus, large format print and historical costumes produced a photographic style that was completely original at the time. Wynfield was attempting to imitate the effects of Old Masters such as Titian using the new medium of photography. Wynfield served in The Artists Rifles. He reached the rank of Captain and was commanding “H” Company in 1880. In his autobiography, his friend Henry Stacy Marks said Wynfield died of consumption.

The painting depicts the historical scene of the White Queen standing at the water’s edge saying farewell to her two sons, the princes, and their departure to France. The artist has captured the emotion of the situation. The distressed queen and her ladies in waiting around her as well as her loyal knight who promise safe passage for the princes. Queen Elizabeth Woodville was the wife of Edward IV and it better known as “the White Queen”. Her four children included the two princes who were murdered in the Tower of London and Elizabeth of York who was to become the mother of King Henry VIII. She has recently been brought to public attention through the BBC Historical Drama “The White Queen” (2013).

The colours are rich and reflect from the queen’s white gown and golden hair. The picture created reflects a fairy-tale scene. Although the story is true the artist does not present the reality of the situation or the accuracy of history. In this painting Wynfield is undoubtedly influenced by his work with photography and colour. The colours are almost too garish. However, the melancholy of the situation has been crated to reflect the historical perspective of the day.

Philip Richard Morris (1838-1902), ‘Beach with Figures’, oil on board, 19th century

Philip Richard Morris (1838-1902), ‘Beach with Figures’, oil on board, 19th century

Philip Richard Morris was a biblical and historical genre painter. He was the son of an engineer and iron founder and was apprenticed to an engineer. Initially he painted during his spare time as his employer refused, even at the intercession of the artist William Holman-Hunt who had become his friend, to cancel his indentures. Hunt encouraged him to study painting and to draw on the resources of the museums in London, specifically the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum.

After his apprenticeship, Morris began to study full time at the Royal Academy schools in 1855. At the end of his first year he won a silver medal. In 1856 he won two more medals. He exhibited his first two paintings at the Royal Academy in 1858 and one of them, The Good Samaritan, was awarded a gold medal. The artist Thomas Creswick, R.A, purchased the other painting of that year, g .

This early acclaim earned Morris a Travelling Studentship and he went to France and Rome to continue his studies. He resumed exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1860 upon his return to London. He continued to exhibit there until 1901, a year before his death. He also showed at the British Institution, Suffolk Street and the Grosvenor Gallery. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1877. Three of his paintings - The Sailor's Wedding (RA, 1876), The Mowers (RA, 1875) and Reaper and the Flowers (1878) were included at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878. In his later years he turned almost entirely to portrait painting.

The painting held here at the Shipley highlights the figures of 2 fisherwomen in the foreground of the painting. The women are standing at the water’s edge. Behind the two women the sea is green and very choppy. The sky is dull and grey. Both women have on aprons and hats, it is clear it is windy as their clothes flap in the breeze. There are six fishing boats heading out to sea in full sail.

The colours are muted; the boats seem surrounded by a Spray. The women on the other hand are much clearer and very expressive. They appear to be talking or signalling to someone. The woman in the foreground is holding out her hands as if perhaps describing the size of a fish. The second woman has her hands on her hips, paying attention to what is being said.

Although this painting is not one of the most well-known of the artist, it is recognisable of his style, his mastery of the story and context, and his detail of colour and atmosphere.

Thomas Marie Madawaska Hemy (1852-1937), ‘On the Lookout’, oil on canvas, 1878

Thomas Marie Madawaska Hemy (1852-1937), ‘On the Lookout’, oil on canvas, 1878

Thomas Hemy was born on the passenger ship SS Madawaska while his family were on route from Newcastle to Australia. After two and a half years his family returned to Newcastle before later moving to North Shields, where he gained tuition in art from his uncle, Isaac Hemzell. Hemy spent several years at sea and endured a shipwreck.

When he returned to Newcastle, he attended the Town’s School of Art at which time he exhibited for the first time. Within a year his work was shown in the Dudley Gallery, London. His work came to the attention of John George Sowerby, who sent him to study drawing under Verlat in Antwerp, Holland.

He produced several figure studies, but he was better known for his costal and river scenes. He was a marine and costal painter who opted for watercolours and oils.

In this picture an old weather-beaten sailor is leaning against a post on “look out” duty. He is wearing waterproofs and a hooded cape to protect him from the rain and salt spray. His expression is very calm, and he seems deep in thought, a contrast to the frantic activity, which would happen if he saw danger to the ship. He exudes a man who is at one with the sea, possessing skill and years of hard experience.

As a postscript, anyone walking into the main foyer of the Stadium of Light in Sunderland can’t help but notice the stunning painting of the fixture between Sunderland and Aston Villa played at Sunderland football clubs then home ground, Newcastle Road.

This English first division match, played on 2 January 1895 ended 4 v 4 and was nothing special, however the painting is recognised as the oldest of an Association Football match anywhere in the world, marks it out as something special.

In celebration of Sunderland AFC’s third English league championship in 1894/95 the football club commissioned Hemy, a local North East artist, to paint a picture of the team in action and the game against Villa was the match chosen. The painting has over the years had two titles; “A Corner Kick” and “The Last Minute – Now or Never” but is commonly known as the “Hemy Painting”.

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