Archive for June, 2010

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.