Diorite vase by Unknown
Diorite vase by Unknown. View item page >
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Millet depicts a peasant woman concentrating hard as she combs or ‘cards’ the wool to be hand spun into cloth. Her expression does not reveal any feelings towards the task, but the subject of the picture shows the harsh reality of working life in nineteenth century France. Millet’s own farming background helped him to empathise with the hardships of rural working class life and he drew scenes which treated peasants with dignity and respect. His sympathy for peasants in these works gave rise to suspicion about his political beliefs and rumours that he was a Radical. In fact Millet was a deeply religious man who believed that people should bear the burden of their lot without complaint. The choice of rural subject matter proved popular with nostalgic city dwellers and his unsentimental approach was admired by artists such as van Gogh.
Pencil drawing by Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875). View item page >
GR.219 – The Cutting Garden, Connecticut, Sally Ryan, (1960), Oil on canvas
Despite being the part benefactor of the Garman Ryan collection with Lady Kathleen Epstein (nee Garman) there is little known about Sally Ryan. She came from a very wealthy family and as well as owning homes in New York and London, she also owned a property in Connecticut. It is quite likely that this painting is of her home in Connecticut or of a familiar place there. Although Sally was widely recognised as a sculptor, she started painting in the 1950s, reflecting her French academic taste of artists such as Manet. Her paintings focused on flowers, portraits and landscapes and have been described as traditional in flavour. This painting is typical of her painting style that incorporates a variety of vibrant colours and is similar to the mark-making used by post-Impressionist painters. It was made six years before her long battle with cancer that caused her early death at the age of 51 in 1968.
Oil painting by Sally Ryan (1917-1968). View item page >
Pen and ink by Jacques Courtois (attributed to) called Il Borgognone (1621-1675)
Pen and ink by Jacques Courtois (attributed to) called Il Borgognone (1621-1675). View item page >
Watercolour by Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) (attributed to)
Watercolour by Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) (attributed to). View item page >
This piece is arguably Palmer’s finest etching since he began using the medium in 1850. It was inspired by his travels in Italy in 1838-9, with the distant hills suggestive of the Alps, and the cypress trees originated in a sketch executed at Tivoli. The sky is reminiscent of Turner, whom Palmer greatly admired, while the standing woman was inspired by his collection of Greek and Roman statues, similar to those in the Garman-Ryan Collection. The picture is carefully composed upon two intersecting diagonals that are united by the birds and trees.
Etching by Samuel Palmer (1805-1881). View item page >
Pencil drawing by Sir Alfred Munnings (attributed to) (1878-1959)
Pencil drawing by Sir Alfred Munnings (attributed to) (1878-1959). View item page >
Black chalk by Henri-Joseph Harpignies (1819-1916)
Black chalk by Henri-Joseph Harpignies (1819-1916). View item page >
This drawing was produced by Modigliani when he and Jacob Epstein were working together in Paris between 1912 and 1914. Modigliani gave this picture to Epstein and it remained a prized possession displayed in Epstein’s living room until it was given to Walsall by Epstein’s widow Lady Kathleen Epstein, as part of the Garman Ryan Collection in 1973. A Greek ‘caryatid’ is a carved figure which acts as a support pillar for the roof of a building. Many of Modigliani’s drawings of ‘caryatids’ were intended as designs for a ‘Temple of Beauty’, an idea for a vast ‘new Parthenon’ dedicated to the glory of all human kind and held aloft by a series of stone caryatids. This vision was sadly never achieved and only one rough caryatid sculpture was finally produced by the artist. Though he did produce several more finished stone heads which revealed the influences of both African and Indo Chinese sculpture. He and other artists such as Picasso and Epstein were discovering these works in the Trocadero Museum in Paris at this time.
Pencil and blue crayon by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). View item page >
Pencil drawing by William Shackleton (1872-1933)
Pencil drawing by William Shackleton (1872-1933). View item page >
Pastel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Pastel by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898). View item page >
Oil painting by Sally Ryan (1917-1968)
Oil painting by Sally Ryan (1917-1968). View item page >
Bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). View item page >
The sitter for this portrait Paul-Emile was Pissarro’s fifth son and last child born in 1884. He later became an etcher and painter producing works in watercolour and oil. His godfather, friend and tutor was the artist Claude Monet, whom Pissarro had met whilst studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The work is typical of Pissarro’s rapid style and ability to balance harsh outlines with light and dark tones to create harmonious images. This is one of many portrait sketches Pissarro made of his seven children during the 1880s. He enjoyed being with his family and spent many hours with his children painting, drawing and walking. Paul Emile was very fond of his father and their close relationship continued until Pissarro’s death in 1903.
Pen and ink by Camille Pissarro. View item page >
The thirty-two year old pregnant woman depicted here is Clasina Maria Hoornik, familiarly known as ‘Sien’.
Sien, born 22 February 1850, was the eldest of eleven children brought up in Geest, a then very poor district of The Hague. She became a seamstress, supplementing her income with prostitution. She was coarse, smoked cigars and was addicted to alcohol.
In January 1882 Van Gogh met Sien wandering the streets of The Hague with her five year old daughter Maria Wilhelmina. She was destitute and pregnant. Out of pity and what he felt his duty, he cared for her and she became his model. She never had any real feelings for Van Gogh, seeing their partnership as a convenient way out of her difficult situation.
In July 1882 Sien gave birth to a son, Willem, after which they moved into an apartment with a studio. Van Gogh was happy with arrangement, however by 1883 Sien had started drinking again and returned to prostitution. Their relationship gradually deteriorated and Van Gogh found it increasingly difficult to look after them, and left in order to concentrate on his career.
Sien’s life did not improve. In 1901 she married Arnoldus Franciscus Wijk, not for love but to legitimise her children. By 1904 life had become so intolerable for her that she drowned herslf in the Schelde River.
Pencil, pen and ink drawing by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). View item page >
Pencil drawing by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
Pencil drawing by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959). View item page >
Gericault was a highly influential French painter, draughtsman and lithographer. Upheld as one of the pivotal figures in the Romantic Movement, his accurate and powerful representations of the human form are distinctive features of his work (Romantacism is characterised by strong emotion, imagination, freedom, drama and rebellion against social conventions).
He trained in the traditions of English sporting art under Carle Vernet and classical figure composition under Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, a strict Classicist. Eventually, he embarked on a 6 year period of solo study, copying the paintings of Rubens, Titian, Diego and Velázquez in the Louvre. It is possible that his romantic tendencies were an attempt to challenge the rigidity of his Neoclassicist training (Classicism reinforces the social conventions that Romantacists rebel against, thus it is rendered the polar opposite of the Romantic Movement).
The artist, who was described as ‘temperamental’ by his tutor Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, had a passion for horse-riding and an artistic talent for capturing the movement of animals. Gericault was an eccentric individual whose flamboyance and powerful vigour is reflected in his dramatic paintings.
Oil painting by Theodore Gericault (1791-1824). View item page >
Camille Corot was one of the pivotal landscape artists of the 19th Century, and a leading painter at the Barbizon school in Paris.
He was born into a bourgeois family in Paris, where his parents owned a fashion store which was a huge attraction for modern Parisians. Corot’s parents hoped that he would continue their family business, although his talent for art became apparent by the time he was 11 years old. In 1815, he went to live in the country with the Sennegon family and Monsieur Sennegon, a friend of Corot’s father, accompanied him on nature walks. It was here that he became inspired to paint rural scenes.
Corot went on to study Neo-classicism with the landscapists Achille Etna Michallon and Jean-Victor Bertin (around 1767-1842). Travelling extensively throughout Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland, he painted in the open air, filling notebooks with drawings and sketches. In Italy, Corot was moved by the architecture and fascinated by the brilliance of sunlight and vivid colour. He chose to forget all about the rules of form and composition, focusing instead on mood and atmosphere; attuning himself to the forces of nature itself. The classical studies that he produced in France and Italy allowed him to experiment with shading, corresponding to his observations concerning light. His ability for capturing the effects of light in his paintings is believed to have been a huge influence on the Impressionists, who regarded him as a teacher.
Pencil drawing by Unknown (French School, Inscribed Corot, 19th century) (1796-1875). View item page >