Glasgow has 2 fabulous art museums, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery (and Museum) and the Burrell Collection from a wealthy shipping baron.
THE KELVINGROVE ART GALLERY
As you can see from the pictures below, the Kelvingrove is big! To the point of overwhelming. We spent a couple of days there.
The grand 100-yr-old Spanish Baroque building is sort of a condensed version of our Smithsonian. It has a Spitfire fighter plane hanging from the ceiling, stuffed animals (elephants, giraffe, kangaroo, moose), the Mackintosh exhibits we showed in the last post, exhibits from ancient Egypt, “Scotland’s First Peoples”, etc. I’m going to show some of its amazing artwork, starting with Impressionists. Below are different treatments of still life – it’s always fun to compare! The first picture (alas, slightly out-of-focus – all of the lighting was really dim!) is by Francois Bonvin, a mostly self-taught French painter with whom I was unfamiliar. The rest are by artists we all know.
Discovering a “new” (to us) artist whose work we enjoy is always a special treat, and the Kelvingrove held several nice surprises hidden among the “masters”; maybe we should know these artists, but don’t? Henri Le Sidaner, Othon Friesz, Armand Guillaumin? Pictures of some of the paintings are shown below, pretty much arranged chronologically.
Another day and a change of pace – Flemish and Dutch Masters. What a treat! Below is a collaboration between Rubens and Brueghel (Rubens, of course, did the nudes).
Although we really like this period of art, we haven’t been very good students; there are a lot of painters here that we aren’t familiar with – like Pickenoy, below.
Another unfamiliar artist was the landscape painter Jan van Goyen; he was very poor, but became very influential. In order to sell his paintings cheaply, he painted thinly and quickly with a limited palette of inexpensive pigments, sometimes churning out a painting a day. His limited tonal range ended up being widely copied. Impressive!
Yet another artist new to us was Jacob van Es. Not much is known about this guy, but his paintings were in many collections of the times – Rubens owned two of his paintings.
OK, time for somebody we do know! Rembrandt’s painting of his wife, pregnant with their first child, is shown below. She’s dressed as Flora, Roman Goddess of flowers. It’s fabulous.
Two other artists we weren’t familiar with are Egbert van der Poel and Willem Kalf; their paintings are shown below. That last picture is by David Teniers the Younger; we didn’t know him either, but apparently he was considered one of the greatest painters in Europe
in his day, and hundreds of his pictures are in the museums of major cities. Live and learn!
We discovered Rachel Ruysch earlier in our travels, and we consistently find her work in major cities. She’s the daughter of a botanist (who had an insect collection and was, himself, an amateur painter); the rest, as they say, is history. She was selling her still-life
paintings at the age of 18, and enjoyed great fame and reputation in her lifetime.
The last picture we’ll show from the Kelvingrove is one they’re very proud of. Spoiler alert, it’s a bit more modern than the ones I’ve been showing you! I’m sure you’re familiar with
it. It’s a big painting, and very impressive.
THE BURRELL COLLECTION
Sir William Burrell was a Glaswegian shipping magnate who collected every conceivable form of art – including fireplaces and doorways. The collection is incredible; the stunning amount of beauty would put most museums to shame, and it was hard to decide what to photograph. The collection includes medieval art (stained glass, tapestries), Egyptian, Islamic and Chinese art, French Impressionist paintings, sculpture, armor, architecture, furniture…. Be prepared for ecclectic! So where to start, eh? How about this vase, found in Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, from 100-200 AD (restoration in the 1700’s). Fill it with wine and take a bath?
Next let’s visit one of my addictions, stained glass. The Burrell Collection has over 700
medieval stained glass panels from across Europe, one of the greatest collections in the world. The 3 panels shown on the left came from a French cathedral from about 1280 (!), showing a wedding party in the center, with kitchen scenes above and below that referenced the trade guild that paid for the window. The only paint on the glass is a brown metal oxide that defines the faces, hair and folds of the clothes. The individual pieces of colored glass are small, and therefore the many lead canes holding them together made the panels strong. There are few restorations, and the window looks almost exactly like it did 750 years ago.
Below are a few more really old panels.
The panels that follow are still from the 1400’s, although the late 1400’s. In the first picture below, the floor pattern and the L-shaped table create good perspective. Details of
the faces, clothes and food were added using metal oxide paint. The yellow hair and musical instruments were painted on the glass using silver stain. Below are a few more glass panels, from the early 1500’s.
We’ll end this medieval glass section with 3 (composite) windows.
We’re switching now to tapestries, and then embroidered clothes. The pictures below are just two of many very impressive tapestries. Both are wool and silk. Gorgeous, aren’t they?
The early 1600’s were a period of peace and prosperity in Britain, and a time when aristocrats used clothing to flaunt their wealth. Linen and silk garments were richly decorated with silk, silver, and gold threads – as you can see below.
The last set of pictures shows a “petticoat”. It’s a lot of cloth, as you’ll notice below! Then
again, dress fashion in the 1600’s was designed to display a lot of cloth. The museum states that the prominent placing of thistles (Scottish emblem) at the top of the embroidered border suggests it was created for the wife of King James VI (of Scotland; alias James I of Great Britain – see previous post “Stirling Castle” for James’ history).
As mentioned earlier, there are fireplaces and doorways in the collection ….
There’s Burrell’s dining room, where the walls are carved wood.
Statues of course – here are some bronzes from Rodin –
And the pottery! It was fabulous stuff. I’ll just show a bit of old Chinese pottery (and some carved jade), shown below.
The pottery below is porcelain from China’s Qing Dynasty, Kangxi period (1662 – 1722) – with the exception of the last item that’s carved ivory.
There were of course the high-tech weapons of the middle ages ….
And now the paintings! Oh my! What a collection! There are over 600 paintings in the Burrell collection. Considering the length of this post, you’ll be relieved to know I won’t show them all. The paintings from earlier centuries are sometimes from a famous painter’s workshop rather than from the artist himself, as illustrated by the first painting below. Many others are from the masters themselves; the Bellini (!) is exquisite, as is the painting by Giovanni Battista Moroni, one of the great portrait painters (Italian) in the
Late Renaissance period. I’ve separated out paintings from my favorite period, the masters of the 1600’s, shown below.
One of the strengths of this collection is French Impression painters, one of our favorite periods. Some examples below.
We’ll finish this oh-so-long post with paintings by Degas. The Burrell has one of the finest Degas collections in Europe, with 22 paintings, pastels and drawings. The pictures below are of his dancers, all but the first being pastels – and that picture is one of Degas’ first paintings of the ballet.
Well, we generally exhaust the patience of anyone who accompanies us to a museum. If any of you have made it aaall the way through this post, our congratulations!
The next post (and last on Glasgow) is on Glasgow’s churches.