Glasgow

The art of Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Kelvingrove Art Gallery sits within an imposing red brick Victorian building, within Kelvingrove Park, which is to the west of Glasgow. A free to enter gallery and museum, it is one of the best galleries I have visited in a long time and I had the pleasure of visiting today, Tuesday 13 July 2021.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Interior entrance hall of Kelvingrove
Interior entrance hall of Kelvingrove

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the British Art Nouveau style

Mackintosh is the most famous of a group of four artists who created a modern movement of architecture, art and design that centred around Glasgow in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The other 3 artists were Margaret MacDonald (nee Gilmour), Frances MacDonald and Herbert MacNair. A lot of their work is displayed here, including furniture from some of the famous Glasgow tearooms they designed, as well as household items such as kitchen silverware and crockery and furniture. Their style was innovative, daring and truly modern in it’s approach.

I find their work so beautiful, with it’s focus on nature. Here are some of the artworks available to see.

The Mackintosh designed Ladies Luncheon Room in Glasgow, 1910
The Mackintosh designed Ladies Luncheon Room in Glasgow, 1910
Mackintosh cabinet
Alms dish by Margaret Gilmour, 1900
Alms dish by Margaret Gilmour, 1900
Mackintosh brooch
Mackintosh brooch
Mackintosh jewellery
Mackintosh jewellery
Mackintosh vases
Mackintosh vases

Impressionism and post impressionism

Kelvingrove also has a fabulous collection of French impressionism and post impressionism from the late 19th century, including works by Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne.

Portrait of Alexander Reid by Vincent Van Gogh, 1887
Portrait of Alexander Reid by Vincent Van Gogh, 1887
The Star Ridge with the King's Peak, by Paul Cezanne, 1879
The Star Ridge with the King’s Peak, by Paul Cezanne, 1879
Vetheuil by Claude Monet, 1880
Vetheuil by Claude Monet, 1880

The Glasgow Boys

The Glasgow Boys were a group of young artists that represented the beginnings of modernism in Scottish painting. In the early 1880s, they were united by their disillusionment with traditional academic painting, and painted contemporary rural subjects. I had not heard of them before my visit but was really impressed by the quality of their work, as it is very similar in quality to the French impressionists.

The Druids - Bringing in the Mistletoe, by George Henry and EA Hornel, 1890
The Druids – Bringing in the Mistletoe, by George Henry and EA Hornel, 1890
A collection of paintings by the Glasgow Boys
A collection of paintings by the Glasgow Boys

The Scottish Colourists

From 1900 until the 1930s, there was a movement of artists called the Scottish Colourists. Again, I had not heard of them but was highly impressed by the work that hangs in Kelvingrove that is by the group. They were a small group of 4 artists, Francis Cadell, John Duncan Fergusson, Leslie Hunter and Samuel Peploe. Similar to the French impressionists, their works was full of light and colour. Similar to the French impressionists their work was also seen as radical and shocking to Victorian eyes.

A collection of painting by the Scottish Colourists
A collection of painting by the Scottish Colourists, ranging from 1899 to 1931
A Lady in Black by FCB Cadell, 1925
A Lady in Black by FCB Cadell, 1925
Interior - the Orange Blind by FCB Cadell, 1928
Interior – the Orange Blind by FCB Cadell, 1928
Sails, Venice by Lesley Hunter, 1922
Sails, Venice by Lesley Hunter, 1922
Easter, Hmyn to the Sun, JD Ferguson, 1924
Easter, Hmyn to the Sun, JD Ferguson, 1924

So much more art!

As well as all that there were lots of other great paintings I enjoyed, here is a sample.

Salopian Cup and Chinese Vase by Norah Neilson Gray, 1930
Salopian Cup and Chinese Vase by Norah Neilson Gray, 1930
Christ of St John on the Cross by Salvador Dali, 1951
Christ of St John on the Cross by Salvador Dali, 1951
The Frog Prince by Jessie M. King, 1913
The Frog Prince by Jessie M. King, 1913
The Port of Algiers by Albert Marquet, 1922
The Port of Algiers by Albert Marquet, 1922
Portraits of women at Kelvingrove
Portraits of women at Kelvingrove, including (top left) Vivien Leigh by Thomas Dugdale (1936)

The Hunterian Art Gallery

The Hunterian is the legacy of Dr William Hunter (1718 – 1783), a pioneering obstetrician and teacher with a passion for collecting.‌ The site sits in the ground of the University of Glasgow. The current building opened in the 1980s and house some amazing paintings, with a particularly large collection of work by James McNeil Whistler.

A new Whistler exhibition has just opened. Glasgow is lucky enough to have one of the largest collections of his work, as the person who inherited a lot of his catalogue of art, his sister in law Rosalind Birnie Phillip, donated most of the collection to the university. The artists of often claimed by the USA, as he lived the first 21 years there, but then lived mainly in the UK and in France, so we can claim him too!

The exhibition is a collection of his etchings, sketches and paintings, and is a fascinating insight into his artistic technique. The gallery is free and well worth a visit. It also contains the Mackintosh house. This a reconstruction of a house that Mackintosh and his wife lived in and decorated in the nouveau style. All the interiors and original, but the fabric of the building is a recreation. Unfortunately for me it is closed due to the COVID situation, but I have seen it before and it is fabulous!

Glasgow Museum of Modern Art

The final art gallery I visited in the city was Glasgow MOMA. Now I am not really much of a fan of art after about 1960, but I decided to persevere with broadening my horizons. The gallery is housed in the old Glasgow Royal Exchange building and is free to get in.

Mercifully there was some art I enjoyed, as modern here includes artworks from the early 20th century. There were some pottery by a Scottish artist I saw yesterday called Jessie M. King which I liked, plus an interesting exhibition called ‘Taste’, showing artworks on a similar theme side by side. This includes some works by Stanley Spencer, Beryl Cooke and Andy Warhol. Definitely nowhere near as amazing as Kelvingrove but worth an hour’s visit as it is very central and easy to find.

The Glen by Stanley Spencer, 1952
The Glen by Stanley Spencer, 1952
By the Clyde by Beryl Cooke, 1982
By the Clyde by Beryl Cooke, 1982
Oyster Stew Soup by Andy Warhol, 1969
Oyster Stew Soup by Andy Warhol, 1969

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Finally I just wanted to show some photos of a lovely place in the west of the city, the botanic gardens. There are two glasshouses to explore, a cafe and some lovely trees and plants to enjoy. Plus it was lovely and sunny too!