Archive for the ‘Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum’ Category

Hidden Treasures

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Salvador DaliOur man, The Chimney, has been out and about and has come across a couple of little treasures…. 

Those of you in the Glasgow area will know that Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross has been rehung upstairs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – it now has its own space and this is one painting exhibition that works very well.  In the new space you’ll find more detailed information about the work as well as additional information and a piece of film about Dali. Have a look at our previous blogs on this work and let me know what you think of the new space.

Many of you probably think that you’ve seen everything upstairs in Kelvingrove.  Well here is another treasure.  Just off the French Room are three paintings, again in their own space.  They are by Arthur Melville and, if you visited the Glasgow Boys exhibition, you will remember how wonderful his watercolours can be.

You don’t have to pick the best, you don’t have to nominate a second choice, you don’t even have to list them in order of preference.  You just go along and enjoy them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Pissarro’s Chimney – May 2011

Sarcophagus of Pabasa 656-640BC #museumfact

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Sarcophagus of Pabasa 656-640BC

Pabasa was the most powerful male official of his day in Upper Egypt.  Pharoah Psamtek I appointed him as Great Steward to his virgin daughter Nitocris who ruled Upper Egypt on the pharaoh’s behalf.   The shape is that of the mummified Osiris, god of the dead, with whom Pabasa wishes to be identified.  Figures of the sisters of Osiris, Isis and Nephthys and the goddesses Neith and Serket are shown at the foot and head of the trough.  On the side of the trough are Thoth (the ibis-headed man who records the judgement of the heart), Imsety (the human headed son of Horus who protects the liver), Anubis (the jackal-headed man who is god of embalming, and Duamutef (the jackal-headed son of Horus who protects the stomach).

This sarcophagus was acquired by Alexander, the 10th Duke of Hamilton, who was an early Victorian collector and eccentric, and he placed it in the Egyptian Hall of Hamilton Palace.  His wish was to be mummified on his death and to this end he acquired another sarcophagus for himself which was to be placed in the family mausoleum.  Unfortunately he purchased a female sarcophagus which was not big enough for him and after his death his feet had to be broken so that he would fit inside.

You can view this sarcophagus in the Egyptian Room on the ground floor of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow.

Intermezzo organise private viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties. For more information contact us at or on 0141 636 6929

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – #museumfact

Monday, September 27th, 2010


It is a popular myth that the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow was built the wrong way round and that the Architect, upon realising this, jumped to his death from one of the towers!  The myth arose because what is considered to be Kelvingrove’s main entrance looks into Kelvingrove Park rather than out onto Argyle Street, which is the main street.  Today most visitors enter from Argyle Street on public transport however, in 1901, visitors would have entered through the park and it was always intended that this should be its main entrance.

There were in fact two architects – John Simpson and Milner Allen – and they were both very happy with the building when it was completed!  They were chosen from a competition in 1892 and the Art Gallery & Museum was completed and opened in 1901.

The Grand frontage and towers were inspired by those of the great Sppanish pilgrimage church of Santiago de Compostela and the interior was based on an Italian Renaissance palace.  Kelvingrove was paid for with profits from the 1888 International Exhibition and public subscription.

Intermezzo organise private viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties. For more information contact us at or on 0141 636 6929

Glen Massan by Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Glen Massan by Gustave Dore (Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums)

Gustave Doré was born in Strasbourg in January 1832 and was a child prodigy who was drawing from the age of 5. It’s believed that he secured his job as an illustrator at aged 15 by walking into a publishing company with a set of drawings and was given a job straight away.  By the age of 16 he was believed to be the highest paid illustrator in France and went on to illustrate works by Dante, Edgar Allan Poe as well as the Bible.  Today he is more widely known for his engravings, particularly those which formed his book, London: A Pilgrimage, which concentrated particularly on the poverty which existed in London during the Victorian period.

He first visited the Scottish Highlands in 1873 with his friend Colonel Teesdale, who had taken him to Scotland for a salmon fishing trip.  However, he preferred to sketch rather than fish and was inspired by the Scottish landscape, returning again in 1874.  His love of Scottish scenery saw him produce many landscapes of the Highlands from his Paris studio which were often more romantic in nature than true to life.  This painting, of Glen Massan near Dunoon, is a large canvas in a romantic Victorian style.  The strong diagonal elements of the hillside are offset against the moving billowing clouds with shafts of light highlighting the work.  The lack of people in Gustave’s Highland paintings may stem from the fact that the romantic myth of the time was that few, if any, actual people had visited these scenes and the artist, or continental visitor, might consider themselves the first to set foot there. A romantic notion indeed!

 Vincent van Gogh referred to Doré as an “Artist of the People”.  He died in Paris in 1883.

 You can view this painting in first floor gallery Scottish Identity in Art at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

To arrange a personal daytime tour or private evening tour please contact us at or call us on 0141 636 6929

The Last of the Clan 1865 by Thomas Faed (1826-1900)

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Last of the Clan by Thomas Faed Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

This painting has come to symbolise the Highland Clearances which was a time when many Scots were forced to emigrate, driven from their land by poverty, or evicted by greedy estate owners.  Although by then the worst of the Clearances were over, the story told by the picture still aroused strong feelings and inspired him to create the most enduring image of this tragic period of Scottish history.

 Grief is written on the faces of the young and old and even the horse, as an unseen ship sails away.  As a viewer of this painting, we appear to be on the departing ship. There is beauty however, in the skilfully painted young women, surely out of place with their London fashions, and the random objects scattered on the quayside.

Thomas Faed was one of the most successful painters of his time.  His work was popular with the Victorian public who queued to see his latest paintings of sentimental Scottish themes. When this painting was exhibited, the Royal Academy had to have barriers erected to control the crowd!

He was born in Gatehouse-of-Fleet in South West Scotland and trained in Edinburgh at the School of Desig, becoming an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy at the young age of 23.

He moved to London in 1852 where he became one of the most successful painters of his time. Although he lived in England, his paintings often dealt with Scottish subjects.  His work was popular with the Victorian public who queued to see his latest paintings of sentimental Scottish themes. He was a technical expert in oils and excelled at still-life details, figures and landscapes.  By 1893 he had become almost blind and retired from painting.  He died in London in St John’s Wood in 1900.

You can see this painting in the Scottish Identity in Art Gallery in the Expression Wing on the first floor of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

For personal daytime and gift voucher tours and private evening viewings of Kelvingrove contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

Le Mariage de Convenance 1883 William Quiller Orchardson

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Le Mariage de Convenance - Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Sir William Quiller Orchardson was born in Edinburgh in 1835.  He moved to London in 1862 and among his fellow students was Thomas Faed, who painted The Last of the Clan (see previous blog).  Together with other younger artists he formed an artistic school and social circle of Scottish artists in London.  He painted portraits, everyday scenes and historical paintings and his painting Her Mother’s Voice is thought to have been the inspiration for the HMV advertising icon of the little dog listening to the gramophone known as His Master’s Voice.  This painting was produced in the 1880s during the height of his powers.  He was knighted in 1907 and has a self-portrait in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.  He died in London in 1901.

The painting portrays a discontented young wife dining with her much older husband and the colours are subtle and muted.  The lamp over the table highlights the story and is the divide between the wife, and the husband and the butler – the husband seems to have more in common with the butler.  The huge table emphasises the age gap and it appears that the marriage, as well as the meal, is over.  The French title of the piece was to detract from the risqué subject matter as the owner would not have wanted it to appear as a statement on their own marriage.  This is further underlined by the light source, which comes from the front, rather than the lamp above, as if to suggest that this is a scene from a play.  It has a companion piece in Aberdeen Art Gallery called Marriage of Convenience  – After which depicts the husband now alone with his butler.

 You can find this painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on the first floor in the Every Picture Tells a Story Gallery.

For daytime and private evening viewings of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum contact Intermezzo on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

VE Day – 1945 (L.S. Lowry 1887-1976)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010
VE Day – 1945 (LS Lowry) Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Born in Manchester in 1887, Lawrence Stephen Lowry is one of Britain’s most celebrated artists.  He studied painting and drawing from 1905-1915 at the Municipal College of Art.  In 1909 Lowry moved to Salford with his parents where he remained for 40 years.  The urban and industrial landscape was of great interest to him and he attended art classes at the Salford School of Art.  From 1919 he exhibited his work with the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. In 1965 he was elected to the Royal Academy and given the freedom of the City of Salford.

 Events he actually witnessed in Manchester, Salford or other towns in the north inspired many of Lowry’s pictures.  At that time few artists painted ordinary people going about their everyday lives in bleak industrial cities, so his pictures became very popular.  In this painting, thousands of ‘matchstick’ people are seen thronging the streets to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe.  The grim industrial buildings are enlivened by flags and bunting and there are even some people sitting on rooftops.  Simply by including so many people, Lowry is able to convey the lively atmosphere of the scene.  However, if you look closely, you will see that each one is slightly different in stance, movement, clothing and height, which was quite an achievement considering the number of figures that filled his paintings.

During World War II he served as a firewatcher and undertook his duties from the top of a department store in Manchester.  Perhaps the one of the figures sitting on top of the building is a self portrait?

His distinctive style of painting has led to a large collection of his work to be housed in a purpose built art gallery on Salford Keys on permanent display to the public.

View this work in the Looking At Art Gallery of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, on the ground floor in the East Wing.

 For more information on private tours of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

The Annunciation 1493 – Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
The Annunciation – Botticelli 1493 – Image Courtesy of Glasgow Museums

In this wonderfully realistic depiction of three dimensional space the Angel Gabriel hurries to tell the Virgin Mary that she is to bear God’s son Jesus.  As rays of gold representing God’s grace radiate towards her, Mary’s modest poor and humble bow indicate that she has accepted this precious mission.

 The angel in Botticelli’s Annunciation seems to float across a long arched corridor behind which can be seen a lake, trees,and a hillside.  Many Renaissance artists became skilled in creating perspective which was a new discovery based on mathematics.  The straight lines recede at carefully worked out intervals towards a fixed vanishing point in the background.  The figures and objects in the foreground were also painted larger than those in the background to help make sense of perspective.

 Botticelli was a major Florentine Renaissance artist who painted religious and mythological works.   Although he was one of the most individual painters of the Italian Renaissance,  he remained little known for centuries after his death. His work was rediscovered late in the 19th century by the Pre-Raphaelite artists

 He was born in Florence and apprenticed to a goldsmith and later he was a pupil of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. He spent all his life in Florence except for a visit to Rome in 1481-82. There he painted wall frescoes in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.

 In Florence, Botticelli was the protege of several members of the powerful Medici family. He painted portraits of the family and many religious pictures, including the famous The Adoration of the Magi.

 Find this painting in the Italian Art Gallery on the first floor of the East Wing in Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

 For daytime tours and private evening tours of Kelvingrove contact Intermezzo on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

Portrait of Alexander Reid – Van Gogh 1887

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Vincent Van Gogh 1887

Portrait of Alexander Reid 1887 - Image Courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Animated by fiery touches of red, orange and green, this portrait has an enigmatic and expressive power.  Red and green are complementary colours which is why this portrait is particularly vivid and striking.  The lines of his brushwork provide a dynamic force to the painting.  Vincent did not want to paint photographic likenesses but to show a revelation of a person.

 Until 1928 this was believed to be a self-portrait of Van Gogh.  Alexander Reid’s son saw the painting in a catalogue, contacted the artist’s family and told them it was actually a portrait of his father. 

 Alexander Reid (1854-1928) was an influential Glasgow art dealer.  In its heyday his business was one of the leading firms in Glasgow with 80 employees. In the 1880s he left Scotland to work in Paris for the art house of Boussod & Valadon. One of his colleagues there was Theo van Gogh, the brother of Vincent Van Gogh.  During his time in Paris Reid became friendly with the brothers and for a short time even shared their apartment in Monmartre.  It was during this time that Van Gogh painted Reid’s portrait – twice. 

On his return to Glasgow Reid pursued his career as a picture dealer with the family firm and went on to sell French art to many of the wealthy businessmen in Glasgow.  His customers were in turn benefactors of the Glasgow Collection, which is why Glasgow Museums have a fantastic French art collection today. 

In the early part of the 20th century there was a Van Gogh Exhibition at Kelvingrove and Vincent’s brother Theo’s son visited the exhibition. 

To see this fantastic painting and learn more about the Van Gogh connection with Glasgow visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.  This painting is situated in the East Wing on the first floor in the French Room.

For evening tours and specialised tours of the collection contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

The Flower Seller – Pablo Picasso (1901)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
Image Courtesy of Glasgow Museums

The Flower Seller - Image Courtesy of Glasgow Museums

A hugely prolific painter, draughtsman, sculptor and ceramicist, Pablo Picasso is regarded as the supreme artist of the 20th century – with a hugely fascinating private life.

 Picasso, born in Spain, was a child prodigy who was encouraged by his art-teacher father, who ably led him along.

 Before Cubism, Picasso went through a number of styles – realism, caricature, the Blue Period, and the Rose Period. The Blue Period dates from 1901 to 1904, after he had first moved to Paris from Barcelona, and is characterized by a predominantly blue palette and subjects focusing on outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes. This was when he also produced his first sculptures.  This particular pigment is effective in conveying a sombre tone. The psychological trigger for these paintings was the suicide of Picasso’s friend Casagemas. The Blue Period work is quite sentimental, however Picasso was still very young and away from home for the first time with very little money.

 The flower seller is typical of this period and depicts a scene of everyday life in a Parisian square.  His use of the cold blue evokes a feeling of sadness.  By bringing together young and old he reminds us that life is short.  This painting depicts all ages, from babies and young children, to the flower seller herself and the elderly lady and gentleman sitting on the bench.  There is even some thought that the horse drawn carriage may contain a coffin. This is a deep message, that life is short, from an artist who was still a teenager.  Although it appears that this was painted very quickly, Picasso actually made many drawings of the flower seller and children beforehand.  With just a few strokes of paint he captures the chubby toddler playing.

 His style developed from the Blue Period to the Rose Period to the pivotal work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and then on to Cubism (another blog on Cubism to follow). Picasso’s collaboration on ballet and theatrical productions began in 1916 and was followed by work which concentrated on drawing and figural representation. In the 1920s the artist and his wife, Olga (whom he had married in 1918), continued to live in Paris, to travel frequently, and to spend their summers at the beach. From 1925 to the 1930s Picasso was involved with the Surrealists and with sculpture and his fame grew.

 By 1936 the Spanish Civil War had profoundly affected Picasso, the expression of which culminated in his painting Guernica.  From the late 1940s he lived in the south of France. In 1961 the artist married Jacqueline Roque, and they moved to Mougins. There Picasso continued his prolific work in painting, drawing, prints, ceramics, and sculpture until his death in April 1973.