The Art of Newcastle_ Part 5 ~ The Laing

The Laing Art Gallery was founded in 1901 by a Newcastle Businessman, Alexander Laing, who’d made a fortune from his wine and spirit shop and beer bottling business. And that was that. He didn’t put any paintings or other artworks into it and said he was confident “…that by the liberality of the inhabitants {of Newcastle} it would soon be supplied with pictures and statuary for the encouragement and development of British Art”.

And so it was. It is now home to an internationally important collection of art focusing on British oil painting watercolours, ceramics, silver, and glassware.  As well as regularly changing exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary art.  The ground floor is home to the Northern Spirit gallery which displays outstanding artwork and objects produced locally by people including Thomas Bewick, Ralph Hedley, and John Martin. You can also see Newcastle silver, glass and ceramics on show. Also on the ground floor is a beautiful Marble Hall, which is occupied by artworks by Henry Moore and Turner Prize nominee Paul Noble.

Upstairs is the 18th and 19th-century display, including internationally important paintings by John Martin, Paul Gauguin, and Burne-Jones. This is also where William Holman-Hunt’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Isabella and the Pot of Basil is displayed.

The exhibitions you pay to get in, but the rest is free. They had a photography exhibition the day we went which was exciting to us for 1 minute until we saw it was ‘celebrities in the nude’. As the advertising image for the exhibition was of Mick Jagger, we decided not to. I know, we should have, but really, I don’t want to see old men’s dangly bits for free, let alone pay to do so!

Anyway, on with some works of art, some of which I can tell you the artist name and some I can’t!

This one appealed to me, I loved the TV Ariel and how the iron is steaming away whilst she’s either picking up beads or making a pattern with them (not sure).

The Ruins of a Northumbrian Keep by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917)

I can’t remember who did it, and I couldn’t get a decent shot of it, but I really loved this cat

This wood carving thingy was just amazing

A ginormous panorama of Tyne Docks covered one wall

The Bard, by John Martin (1789-1894) was gorgeous close-up, if you’re on a mobile then you won’t really see the great details, but for those on a PC give it a click.

Inspired by a poem, with the same name, written by Thomas Gray in 1755. In the poem, Gray narrates the story of King Edward I of England and his conquest of Wales in the late 13th century. Following his victory over the Welsh Edward decided that all the bards, the professional poets, could be dangerous if they were allowed to spread the story of the bygone power of the Welsh people as this may incite the defeated Welsh to rise up against their English masters. Edward ordered the Bards to be slaughtered and the painting depicts the fate of the last surviving bard who has been chased by Edward’s troops and who has climbed a precipice above a swirling river. He stands aloft cursing the English troops, who have left their castle, and are in pursuit of their quarry. The castle, based on the one at Harlech, we see perched on rocks in the left middle-ground. In the left foreground, we see Edward’s riders with banners unfurled as they rush along the valley side like a swarm of ants. On the top of the cliff on the opposite side of the fast flowing river, we observe the bard, cursing his pursuers before throwing himself off the ledge and plunging to his death.

Isabella and the Pot of Basil. A strange tale, but lovely painting.

Isabella and the Pot of Basil is a painting completed in 1868 by William Holman Hunt depicting a scene from John Keats’s poem Isabella, or the Pot of Basil. It depicts the heroine Isabella caressing the basil pot in which she had buried the severed head of her murdered lover Lorenzo. Hunt had drawn an illustration to the poem in 1848, shortly after the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but he had not developed it into a completed painting.  Hunt returned to the poem in 1866, shortly after his marriage, when he began to paint several erotically charged subjects. His sensuous painting Il Dolce Far Niente had sold quickly, and he conceived the idea for a new work depicting Isabella. Having traveled with his pregnant wife Fanny to Italy, Hunt began work on the painting in Florence. However, after giving birth, Fanny died from fever in December 1866. Hunt turned the painting into a memorial to his wife, using her features for Isabella. He worked on it steadily in the months after her death, returning to England in 1867, and finally completing it in January 1868.

I also really liked Love in Idleness by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Love in Idleness is an old name for the pansy flower. The artist is suggesting that the young women in the portrait are as beautiful as flowers. He also links loveliness to love. Roses, which are symbols of love, carry on the theme. Alma-Tadema’s paintings of beautiful young women in convincing Roman-style settings were very popular in the late-19th century. The realistic detail of his pictures was based on Roman wall paintings and sculpture. He saw Roman works of art in 1863 during visits to the ruined cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in Italy.

The Laing has a very nice cafe

And we’ll finish up with some very strange but quirky and fascinating wallpaper in the hallway.

and that’s the end of our hunt for art!

All pictures are clickembiggenable,

and a full album can be found HERE

40 thoughts on “The Art of Newcastle_ Part 5 ~ The Laing

  1. I really need to get over your way for a Road trip…so many things to see!…except Jagger’s dangly bits….as an artist I am still bamboozled by the obsession with the nude body in art, especially women’s, I don’t even want to look at my own!Love the wallpaper!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The paintings of Alma-Tadema have an eerie photographic quality that has long fascinated me.
    And the details of Isabella are outstanding. The way her toe curls on the base of the plinth, just amazing.
    The wallpaper reminded me of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, with bizarre details that have to be sought out.
    Nice one, FR. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw the celebrities exhibition (called Exposed). The nude bit was I think a way of pulling in punters. Yes, there was some nudity..but not overly so. What there was were a large number of iconic images from down the years (like the Christine Keeler straddling that chair one). Mick Jaggers bits were not on display…although there were some that were.

    But The Laing is a gem of a gallery. As you say the exhibitions they attract are brilliant.

    I must mention a permanent photo display called “The Last Ships” by a brilliant photographer Chris Killip. I suggest people google him to check him out. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at The Laing last year. He’s 80 odd with great stories.

    Errr…should have said..nice post CJ. Sorry!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha no I prefer the discourse to compliments. I was with Sophie that day, I might have gone and seen it (dangly bits and all) had I been on my own 🙂 I will check out The LAst SHips, don’t think I came across that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So many things to talk about.. omg .. yeah I don’t think I’d pay to see MJ’s junk either 🙂
    I love the wooden work , so detailed and beautiful! And that wall paper .. so bizarre:)!
    Lots of beautiful work for sure , I get bored very easily in those places ?!:) that’s me.
    Sound like you gals had another great day !!!!

    Like

  5. What an extraordinary post full of art. I agree about the cat painting — a perfectly posed cat.
    I liked the one with the beads best. It begins such a story… and I want to know what started it and what came next. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

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