Some weeks ago an invitation (nay, a command) arrived to attend the Christmas celebration at Temple Newsam House yesterday afternoon. It was issued by Sir Arthur Ingram to all tenants on the Estate.
Wishing all Miladys Readers a Very Happy and Peaceful New Year!
Very much closer to home than Fountains Abbey is the Harewood Estate. Just a few miles north of Leeds off the A61, Harrogate Road. I often take a circular walk around the wider estate but not within the immediate site of the House and Gardens which are currently closed until late March 2017.
Can I really have been have jotting down notes about my travels and interspersing the notes with my photos for five years already? I’ve just been looking back at my post about Capability Brown at Harewood and am amazed to see that the date was October 2011. My first post was dated 20 August 2011. And I’m stunned to see that that was five years ago to the day! Well I never.
All round the country there are commemorations this year to honour those hundreds of thousands of men and women killed during the First World War. They range from the now very well-known, much-visited and publicised “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” [the ‘evolving installation marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat’] (here is what Lynne – alias Dovegreyreader – wrote about her visit to the Tower) to our very own local WW1 trail along the main thoroughfare of Horsforth near Leeds.
My neighbour and I followed the trail last Tuesday and on Saturday I visited the related Exhibition in the local church hall. Somehow even though I have lived here much longer than I ever lived in Norwich I don’t feel as attached to Horsforth as I do to the place where I grew up.
“212 are named on the brass panels the men and one woman who died in the first world war . It cost £720 and was unveiled by The Lord of the Manor Montague Spencer-Stanhope on Saturday 11th March 1922. The lectern in front was built in 1953 to honour the men from Horsforth who died in World War II.”
However, the trail and boards are very well done and tell some very sad tales and, interestingly, one woman is commemorated which, I believe, was unusual for the time.
Nurse Florence Hogg
“Serving as a nurse didn’t make a woman immune from the effects of war. Florence Hogg, who worked at Horsforth Laundry, died of the ‘flu that she caught at Berrington War Hospital in Shrewsbury from a soldier, wounded at the Front. The following month it killed her mother too. The ‘flu virus killed over 20 million in 1918 and 1919 – even more than died in the war itself.”
Florence Hogg’s Commonwealth War Grave in Horsforth Cemetery
“We know of six Horsforth men who were in the Gallipoli Campaign, three of whom were killed. Professional sailor, 25 year old Percival Rodgers was killed aboard a submarine that was torpedoed. Another regular, James Swailes, was shot in the head by a sniper. The third man from Horsforth who died was 39 year old, Harry Taylor, who emigrated to Australia in 1898 and served with the Australian army.“
James Swailes killed in the Gallipoli Campaign
In addition to further information boards and displays of medals and other artefacts from the First World War at the Exhibition we were able to watch a half hour documentary programme recorded for TV and published on 1 Oct this year.
“This documentary film travels around the Ypres (Ieper) area of Belgium looking at locations that Yorkshire troops were involved in. Geoff Druett is taken around by an official tour guide. They set-off in the square in front of Ypres Cloth Hall, go to Essex Farm and learn about John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field” poem; cross the Yser Canaal to the Yorkshire Trench. Across town they wander around Hill 60 and visit Tyne Cot. Back in Ypres, Geoff visits the English Memorial Church and the film ends with the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Music : “World War I In Poetry And Music” by David Moore, John McCormack, Robert Donat, Siegfried Sassoon”
IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Last week I went to two art talks and very interesting they were too. One was an evening reception at The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate organised by the Art Fund. The other was ‘Tea with the Curator’ at Temple Newsam House near Leeds.
Self-portrait of Frank Holl as a young man [source]
Frank Holl : Emerging from the Shadows [Mercer Gallery, Harrogate 23 November 2013 to 30 March 2014]
‘Frank Holl (1845-1888) is one of the great painters of the Victorian period, notable for his tragic social realism as well as his penetrating portraits. Revered in his lifetime, he died young whilst at the height of his powers. His early death meant that he never fully received the acclaim that his work merited. This exhibition represents the first modern retrospective of this significant artist.’
I have been aware of Holl since the mid-1990s when one of my masters papers in Victorian Studies was on the subject of narrative paintings with a theme of poverty and the poor in Victorian England. The Holl picture we looked at was The Seamstresses now owned by The Royal Albert Museum in Exeter. It is on show at the Harrogate exhibition.
Seamstresses. Frank Holl. 1875. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.
Jane Sellars, curator of the Mercer Gallery, introduced Holl and told us more about his life and travels and spoke about each of the, perhaps 30, paintings. It was interesting to note the themes of Holl’s narrative paintings on loan from prestigious galleries around the country, including The National Portrait Gallery – soldiers off to fight in Afghanistan, sweatshops, guilty bankers – all themes that appear in the news today. So not much has changed there. Jane pointed out the “Rembrandtesque” effect in many of these paintings.
No Tidings from the Sea. Frank Holl. 1870. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust. [source]
Even Queen Victoria bought one of his pictures No Tidings from the Sea (1870 and in The Royal Collection). Later Holl gained commissions to paint portraits and his subjects included national figures like William Gladstone and W.S.Gilbert. The BBC ‘Your Paintings’ website shows 68 of his paintings. Jane quoted several times from his eldest daughter’s, Ada Mabel Reynolds, 1912 biography of her father. There is an accompanying book/catalogue to the show. Earlier last year the exhibition was shown at the newly refurbished Watts Gallery in Surrey. In Harrogate the pictures have been hung beautifully for ease of viewing and the lighting is excellent for all except maybe one glazed picture.
Last May on a visit to Highgate Cemetery I noticed his tomb and photographed it.
The Tomb of Frank Holl in Highgate Cemetery
I’m very pleased that Frank Holl is at last emerging from the shadows.
Rembrandt : etchings from the Collection of Leeds City Art Gallery [Temple Newsam House 19 November 2013 – 20 July 2014]
It’s very difficult to get a ‘front on’ view of Temple Newsam. The land drops away significantly from the front of the house and a wider angled camera lens is required to capture it closer up. The photo above is of the side view. Temple Newsam’s history goes back beyond the Domesday Book. Lord Darnley former husband of Mary Queen of Scots was born here in 1545.
The Stable Courtyard makes a much better view
So, last Thursday afternoon I made my way to Temple Newsam for Tea with the Curator of the Rembrandt Etchings Display.
“This season’s Winter/Spring exhibition at Temple Newsam House offers the rare chance to see a selection of prints made by the greatest printmaker the world has ever seen – Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606 – 1665). The exhibition will run for nine months and will consist of two displays; the first will examine Rembrandt’s portraits and figure studies and the second, will showcase a selection of Rembrandt’s biblical prints.
Rembrandt’s career as a printmaker ran parallel with his painting, but he rarely treated the same subject in both medium and only on a few occasions did he reproduce his paintings in print. Indeed for Rembrandt, print was a distinct art form which he pursued as actively as he did his painting; quickly learning the technical skills involved in etching Rembrandt virtually recreated this technique. His impact and contribution to printmaking is unprecedented and is so significant that it is still reflected in etchings produced today.
Portraits and People, 19th November 2013 – 30th March 2014
Bringing together Rembrandt’s prints of people the first half to this exhibition will focus on his early experimental prints in which Rembrandt developed both his technique and his interest in showing emotion and thought through detailed observations of facial expressions. Highlights include a selection of Rembrandt’s iconic self-portraits, etchings of his mother and wife Saskia and a group of Rembrandt’s prints of beggars.
The Artist’s Mother [source]
Theodore, the curator, and I and four others assembled in the Dining Room for a friendly discussion and an opportunity to examine etching and engraving tools. The tool box and tools themselves that Theodore brought along had all been the property of Frank Brangwyn. Theodore explained the processes and their differences to us before taking us upstairs to the small but excellent display of Rembrandt etchings.
Frank Brangwyn’s Etching Tools
The etchings themselves are small and exquisite and beautifully displayed. Magnifying glasses are supplied through which we could study the minute detail of each print.
Tea and cake and biscuits are served
On returning to the Dining Room for tea and cakes we had further opportunities to examine at close quarters etchings and tools and a brief slideshow of a 16th century printmaking shop which reminded me of my visit last month to the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.
The current etching display will be replaced next month by a further series from the 70 or so donated to the Art Gallery on the theme of Rembrandt and the Bible.
Until yesterday I thought a pot was a pot. What a difference a knowledgable speaker makes to the appreciation of art! In this case I’m talking about studio pottery and the pots on display at the Art and Life, 1920-1931 exhibition currently showing at Leeds City Art Gallery (but only until Sunday 12 January). The exhibition will then head down to Kettles Yard in Cambridge and thence to The Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London.
On some Thursdays throughout the year Leeds Art Gallery presents 30 minute free lunchtime talks. Yesterday the lunchtime talk was extended to 50 minutes and the visiting speaker, Dinah Winch from Gallery Oldham, told our small assembled group about the pots displayed in Art and Life. They were all made by William Staite Murray.
These pots, which I would have given barely a glance to before, I now look at quite differently. A stripey vase and a rough brown dish became works of art before my very eyes. The pots matched with the paintings and many appear in Winifred Nicholson’s paintings demonstrating the ideal light in which to view them – natural sunlight through the window – not the artificial light from above the glass cases in the gallery.
Nicholson’s Polyanthus and Cineraria [source]
The stripey vase entitled The Bather was very tall and striking. Photography was not allowed and I have been unable to find a suitable picture to reproduce here. Most of the pots (including The Bather) came from York City Art Gallery (which is undergoing a big refurbishment over the next couple of years) and a couple from Kettles Yard. I visited Kettles Yard in 2011. It is a lovely homely gallery full of art and craft of the Art and Life era.
Inside Kettles Yard (Ben Nicholson’s Bertha (No.2) on the right)
Here is what the Exhibition Guide says about Murray and his pots :
“William Staite Murray was one of the leading artists of his time. Murray eschewed any functionality for pots and viewed pottery as a fundamental abstract art lying between painting and sculpture. Inspired by the Chinese Sung dynasty pots that had begun to appear in London, his pots are emotionally expressive with imaginative titles, all of which appealed to the Nicholsons with whom he was friends and exhibited widely. Ben Nicholson keenly distributed pictures by Alfred Wallis amongst his friends, and sent one to Murray, noting that it reminded him of one of Murray’s pots. We can only muse as to the exact link as it is not known which picture by Wallis Ben sent. Winifred gives us an idea for she wrote of one of Murray’s pots as having “the elemental depth of the sea.” When Ben Nicholson saw Murray’s solo exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1931 he wrote “one big brown pot is one of the finest things I have ever seen.” Persian Garden was exhibited in the Lefevre exhibition, and widely seen as one of Murray’s masterpieces, it is probable this was the pot referred to by Nicholson. By the late 1920s remarkably Murray had a higher reputation than the Nicholsons. Arguably as good a potter as Bernard Leach, subsequently Murray’s reputation has suffered, perhaps partly because in 1939 he left England and with the outbreak of war settled abroad. Sadly he did not pot again.”
I hope this brief introduction and excellent lecture will set me up for my visit later this month to the Matthew Darbyshire installation using the pottery collection of W.A.Ismay at The Hepworth in Wakefield.