Artwork assessment: York Artwork Gallery

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I realized how unforgivably long it had been since I visited the York City Art Gallery when I found that the illustrated guide cost only £ 2.75 when it was published in 1991, and that the number on my copy was hand-written an 01 was updated STD prefix.

The gallery, which has been open to the public since 1879, was closed in 2013 due to major renovations. The number of visitors in the previous year, April 2011 to April 2012, had reached more than 225,000. When it reopened in 2015, the introduction of a locally unpopular entry fee led to a dramatic drop in visitor numbers. In the period from August 2015 to August 2016, fewer than 100,000 came.

york art galleryPortrait of Monsignor Agucchi, dated 1610 as Domenichino on documentary evidence, but also attributed to Carracci, 1603/04 due to his style. Presented by F.D. Lycett Green via the National Art Collections Fund

Apart from that, the collection is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to the elected Archbishop Cottrell. Once resident, he can purchase an annual visitor card for the gallery and other attractions. As in so many provincial collections, local benefactors have provided a range of materials that should attract every art lover from the metropolises and the rural landscape.

Dean Eric Milner-White, probably better known as Dean of King’s College in Cambridge, where he founded the Festival of Nine Lessons and Christmas Carols, which, despite being shortened and shortened elsewhere, still seems to thrive, was Dean of York from 1941 until his death in 1963, in addition to a series of paintings, he gave his ceramic collection, which focused on William Staite Murray, Bernard Leach and a Japanese colleague from Leach, Shoji Hamada. When Covid-19 was closed, the gallery had a comprehensive overview of more than 40 ceramic sculptures by Gillian Lowndes (1936-2010).

Previously, in 1931, the city had paid the extraordinary sum of £ 3000 for more than 1200 works on paper collected by a Welsh doctor. From 1950 to 1962, the gallery implemented a pricing system that honored the same Dr. W. A. ​​Evelyn was named for an annual contemporary view of York. John Piper's watercolor York from Cliffords Tower started the series in 1951.

The core of the British collections of the 19th and early 20th centuries comes from the estate of a famous horse dealer, John Burton (1799-1882), and the gallery has collected works by the city's most famous artist, William Etty RA (1787-). 1849), including the large painting The Wrestlers, which the city could buy cheaply for 30 guineas in 1947, as little appetite for male nudes that matched the earlier Victorian enthusiasm.

In 1955, FD Lycett Green, impressed by the work of the gallery's German emigrant curator, donated more than 100 continental old masters that he had built up since the First World War. Although he regretted not having bought any works by Botticelli, Tizian, and Rembrandt, his small works pay back the attention that a domestic collection could afford.

Noteworthy among them is the portrait of the Bolognese art theorist, diplomats and titular bishop of Amasea in the partibus infidelium, Giovanni Battista Agucchi (1570-1632), who was appointed Pope Nuncio to Venice in 1623 by Pope Urban VIII.

The intimate scale of the portrait, in which the subject looks up from reading a letter, invites us to get closer to this man of the letters and emphatically argues that it is the work of a friend. Long thought of as a portrait of Domenichino and dated between 1615 and 1620, it has recently been argued that it was actually painted at the beginning of the century, around 1603, probably by Annibale Carracci, another of Agucchi's protégés who received the last Rites of Monsignor Agucchi on his untimely death in 1609. The hospitable Monsignor kept the portrait until his own death.

Two former Italian artists stand out in the collection; the Sienese-based Martino di Bartolomeo di Biagio and Bernardino Cristofano di Nicolo d & # 39; Antonio di Pietro da Fonghaia, who was born in Fungai near Siena in 1460 and is simply called Bernardino Fungai. You can see why.

Martino was born in Rome and was admitted to the cathedral in Lucca (1394) with manuscripts and an oratorio in Crescina (1398) before finally returning to Siena after his work in Pisa. There he works in the cathedral and in the Palazzo Pubblico (the frescoes 1404-07 of the Sala di Balia belong to him) as well as in Sant & # 39; agostino (a polyptych of St. Stephen) and everywhere. In 1420 he was employed at the Collegiata in San Gimignano to paint the statues of the Annunciation.

Thanks to Lycett Green, there are two delightful rondelles in York that represent the Prince of the Apostles and Paul of Tarsus. Both are painted on a gold background, iconic and reveal the artist's ability as a manuscript illuminator. Both men carry books in their right hands to preach the gospel.

In his characteristic blue and yellow, St. Peter is immediately recognizable by the large keys, which he clumsily holds in his left hand. Rather unconventionally, Paul is dressed in white, a tunic that is lined throughout in red. He holds his executioner's sword as if on guard and waits for the call of martyrdom.

York art galleryLeaping Salmon Vase (1931) by Bernard Leach (1887-1979), given by Dean Milner-White

Fungai lived in the early years of the Reformation and died in 1516. The National Gallery in London has a famous "Tondo" Madonna (NG 1331) in which he skillfully demonstrates his ability to manipulate gold: 1494, around that time Fungai painted the tondo, he was commissioned to gild and paint some ceremonial banners, and in 1499 he gilded the organ case in Siena Cathedral.

But perhaps his most important order (1498-1501) was the high altarpiece for the Servite Church outside the city in the Terzo of San Martino in Siena. It shows the Coronation of the Virgin (a very Sienese prayer) surrounded by saints and would secure its reputation in every galaxy of 15th century Italian masters.

During the first installation, the four reredos paintings in the predella had a central panel of the dead Christ under the central altarpiece, which was carried by angels. The narrative scenes celebrated the life of St. Clement, the martyr pope of the first century, who is considered the first of the Apostolic Fathers and was a student of St. Peter. The reason for this was that the Romanesque church was originally dedicated to its cult until the Servite Order dedicated it to Santa Maria dei Servi.

Painted in tempera and oil on poplar, the panels were eventually sold separately, presumably when the altar was put up again. The first two panels (now at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg) show the conversion of Clemens, in which the young philosopher Clemens thinks about the immortality of the soul and believes that his parents and siblings have been shipwrecked, and the second the family Reunion.

Lycett Green gave York the third panel from St. Clement Striking the Rock, and in 1979 the gallery acquired the final scene, The Martyrdom of St. Clement. Sienese painting was known for its emphasis on the surface pattern. Artists often embellished the textiles in their works with complex patterns made of real gold. In this panel we see how his use of gold elaborately highlights the details of coping with Clement. In 1991 the central plaque, which was on sale at Sotheby’s, New York, in the collection of the well-known despot Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, was sold to York.

Martyrdom is an unsuitable scene in which the Pope, who fully supports coping, the papal tiara and red gloves, is thrown overboard and has an anchor around his neck. Not surprisingly, the pope looks confused at this turn of events, as does one of the decks on board who was probably about to serve the mass. Slaves on the poop lower a sail, ready to retreat from the thinly forested bay and go to sea. We could travel to York with such vitality.

The collection at the York Art Gallery can be viewed at You will also find details of the York Museums Trust's call for donations for Covid-19.

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