Artists Inspired By Mothers

by Aileen Mitchell 27. February 2017 10:37

Mother’s Day is just around the corner (26th March – put it in your diary!). Today we look at mothers who inspired, encouraged and modelled for some of the most famous artists of all time.

Mother and Child by David Freeman
Mother and Child by David Freeman

Lucian Freud, one of the most celebrated 20th century portrait artists, had a close relationship with his mother, which we can see in his portraiture. Throughout Freud’s childhood his mother took a very keen interest in his talent, and later his career. This all stopped, however, when Freud’s father died. The death of Ernst L. Freud had a catastrophic effect on his mother, Lucie, who suffered from deep depression until she died.

It was in her long period of depression that Freud began to paint her in a collection of very intimate works. These are very detailed snapshots into a private time with mother and son that really shows the lengths of her suffering and distance from her son and the world. Works such as, ‘The Painter’s Mother Resting I, 1975-1976’ are some of Freud’s most well-known and critically acclaimed. 

It is believed that throughout his mother’s period of depression, Freud spent over 4,000 hours painting her. Art historian, Lawrence Gowing, wrote that this was the longest time in three hundred years since a painter showed so much about their relationship with their mother in art since Rembrandt.

This picture is a faithful representation of one of Rembrandt's portraits of his mother.

Rembrandt van Rijn, iconic Dutch artist, is well known for documenting his own self-portraits to show his aging process. He also used his mother as a model for many of his portraits to display similar details of aging. It was common during Rembrandt's era for artists to hone their skills by creating portrait studies of aging subjects, however Rembrandt took his portraits one step further. Using costume and lighting, he created much more theatrical interpretations of his mother that have become highly collectable. 

 

Potrait of the Artist's Mother - Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh has to have a mention here, as he is also one of the most famous artists who was directly inspired by his mother. Anna Carbentus van Gogh was an energetic, family oriented woman who always expressed great affection for her children and husband. One of her beliefs to a happy life was spending time watching flowers grow. She divided up responsibility of the family garden between all the family, which meant her son Vincent spent a lot of his time around flowers that can be seen later in his artwork. Anna was an enthusiastic amateur artist herself and loved to sketch flowers and plants. She noticed van Gogh had a keen talent for drawing and painting their garden flowers from a young age and continued to show her support when he became a full-time artist.

 

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler

The Whistler's Mother, or to give it its correct title, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 is one of the most famous paintings of an artist's mother. Originally meant to be a portrait of the much younger daughter of an MP, Maggie Graham, this convas was instead used as a study of James Abbot McNeill Whistler's mother. 

In a letter to a friend, Whistler's mother explained how Graham had not shown up for a potrait appointment, and how she had decided to stand in. Anna McNeill Whistler also detailed how her son had failed to finish a painting of Mr Graham despite several sittings, producing only half finished, unsuccessful portraits. Anna Whistler was also a very supportive mother and was even James Whistler's art agent for a time when she stayed with him in London.

Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott
Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott

Van Gogh’s feelings of isolation from the family increased as he got older. His unusual love life, his unorthodox views of the world and his battle with mental illness were all said to be strains on the family. Despite this, he always enjoyed sending his most prized paintings back home to his mother. These included giant irises, roses and great bouquets of flowers – all of which he knew she would love. Van Gogh’s famous portrait of his mother also captures her proud and vibrant nature in the colours chosen by the artist. Whilst painting his mother’s portrait he wrote to his brother Theo, “I am doing a portrait of Mother for myself. I cannot stand the colourless photograph, and I am trying t do one in a harmony of colour, as I see her in my memory.”

The theme of motherhood is also used by many of our own artists at artgallery.co.uk. Have a look at some of our own artists inspired by mothers…

Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison
Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison

Stephen Davison has taken inspiration from visit to an Inuit community and their culture of loyalty and motherhood. This rich monochrome oil painting is based on a photograph taken by Henry G. Kaiser circa 1906.

Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes
Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes

Mrs Wilkes’ line drawing is a great modern take on the notions of motherhood. The simple addition of red lips and the mark on the mother’s tummy draws the eye to the main theme of the drawing. 

abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes
abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes

Sandy Jai Hughes has created a portrait of a mother and three children in the famous cubist style of Pablo Picasso. She has also incorporated texture into the piece by adding papier-mâché stained with coloured ink.  

Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied
Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied

Hanan Saied has created a dramatic acrylic on canvas depicting a Nubian woman in traditional dress protecting her baby from the natural disasters in the wold like flooding and tsunamis.

Take a look on our online gallery to find more art from our own artists inspired by their mothers.

Image credits:

Portrait of Rembrandt's mother/ Own work photo of Horst Gerson 1968 catalog/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of the Artist's Mother/ Mefusbren69 (talk | contribs) / Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler/ Musée d'Orsay/ Publlic Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

 

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Art History | Artists

We've Been Awarded Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2017!

by Aileen Mitchell 20. February 2017 17:44

ArtGallery.co.uk has won a Feefo Gold Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, rated by real customers.

Created by Feefo, Trusted Service is awarded to businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine ratings and reviews. A badge of honour, this accreditation remains unique as all the awards are based purely on the interactions with verified customers. This feedback has been collated by the Feefo review platform, with the accolades being awarded based upon performance. 

We met the criteria of collecting at least 50 reviews between January 1st 2016 and December 31st 2016, and achieved a Feefo service rating of between 4.5 and 5.0.

Aileen Mitchell from ArtGallery.co.uk said:

“It’s a real honour to receive this award from Feefo. To be recognised for delivering exceptional experiences to our customers is a great achievement.
We’ve been working hard to ensure our customers receive the best service possible, and being able to listen, understand and respond to their needs has enabled us to improve our offering in 2016. We’re looking forward to another successful year ahead.”

Andrew Mabbutt, CEO at Feefo added:

“We would like to offer our congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Feefo Trusted Service award. We are so proud that so many businesses are putting customer service first.,”

“We have been working closely with all our customers to build trust and transparency online, and ultimately helping shoppers buy with confidence and make better decisions.” 

Feefo is a ratings and reviews, and customer analytics platform. They collect genuine, purchase-verified reviews on behalf of over 3,000 businesses. Feefo ensures that all feedback is authentic by matching it to a legitimate transaction. We believe this is the best way to combat the rising issue of fake reviews.

To read our reviews, please go to our ArtGallery.co.uk reviews on Feefo.

Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award Badge

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Malvern Theatres - Spring Exhibition 20 February - 1 April 2017

by Humph Hack 19. February 2017 15:36

We try to make the selection of artists we invite to Malvern Theatres a mixture who have never shown in Malvern before as well as some who are firm favourites. The three in the current show are all new.

Martin Ball is a self-taught artist from the Bristol area with a background in graffiti art and illustration.

His work is built from his love of colours, energy and emotion.  He aims to create works which add a real visual impact to any room.

Like artists for generations before him, he has chosen currently, to concentrate largely on one style. This focus allows him to explore subtle differences in tone and balance – reaching for perfection with every new work. But, like all artists before, he will probably never feel he has achieved this final step. In the meantime we can revel in some of the most energetic and vibrant works Malvern has ever seen.

Selling online is a newish venture for him. He has, however, attracted significant attention on the internet and is already selling well.

 

David Barber has a B.A. Hons Degree in Art and worked for many years as an Illustrator and Graphic Designer.

 A large proportion of his early working life was spent in the magnificent landscapes of the Cumbrian and Peak District - National Parks. From these early days he developed a real love for the peace and beauty of these places. His paintings are produced in response to frequent walks through these wild and often bleak open spaces. They are an attempt to capture some of the light and freshness of nature through a thoughtful use of colour and tone.

Early stages of a painting progress quickly with rapid brush strokes applied very loosely to the canvas to sketch in the major features of the composition. A tonal under painting is built upon these initial marks and this is followed by the application of the major colours. Final adjustments to colours and compositional elements are then made to complete the painting. Wherever appropriate he retains as much of the initial 'sketch' phase in the final work as possible, as it's often this stage that gives the paintings their vibrancy.

He produces paintings that can hold your attention with their rich colours or carefully placed details. He doesn't rely on tricks, but completes his works with care, love and patience. He says,

“I want owners of my work to feel as though they've bought a jewel that they can treasure”.

David’s work is held in several galleries and until recently, these have been his only outlet. Selling online is a newish venture for him.

David Moore was born in Derby. He is entirely self-taught but, as can be seen from the work in this exhibition, clearly has a high degree of natural ability.

Some artists adopt a style which they settle into, going on to refine and hone the outcome over a number of years. Others go through a series of styles over time. Unusually, in David’s case, he has chosen to paint in a wide variety of genre, thereby showing an impressive degree of skill. He is influenced by many great artists, which is why his artworks are so varied. His strongest influences are the French Impressionists.

 The works in this exhibition are largely in oils but all are on canvas. His works have been purchased world-wide.

The exhibition is open every day - all day until the last show closes until Saturday 1 April.

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Why Do We Draw Hearts In The Famous Shape?

by Aileen Mitchell 1. February 2017 14:03

Kaleidoscope Butterfly Heart Picture by Sara Lawson
Kaleidoscope Butterfly Heart Picture by Sara Lawson

The heart shape is a world-recognised symbol of love, romance and conversely sacrifice.  It can be seen everywhere – it's even on our emoji keyboards in multiple colours, and being trademarked by footballers. Although the heart shape bears little resemblance to the anatomical shape of the heart, it has been used and accepted as the recognised shape since the late Middle Ages and depicted this way in art history. 

Up until the Middle Ages, the heart was typically depicted as a pear – yes, a pear – or a pine cone, and then the shape seems to have been turned 180 degrees so that the point faced down with the scalloped edge at the top. There are no records that explain why this change occurred or why it then became the way to represent the heart, but from 13th and 14th century Britain the heart symbol was recognised as the same way up that we see it today.

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne (1645 - 1650)

Although this shape that hasn't changed in hundreds of years and was established fairly quickly, it was not used as a symbol of romantic love until later. The heart shape during the Middle Ages still symbolised exactly what it was meant to be: the heart. This led to its use in many religious paintings, most famously works painted for Martin Luther, an important influencer in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The 'Sacred Heart' of Christ was often depicted with the new shape, and was supposed to remind people of Jesus' sacrifice for the good of humanity. Not only in art, but the new shape got top billing on the deck of playing cards for the heart suit during the 15th century – a design that remains the same today.

 Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by Jose de Paez

Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by Jose de Paez (1729 - 1790)

There were some variations in the design of the heart shape – particularly in religious paintings. Some painters still kept the aorta on show, but this extra detail gradually died out because the heart symbol we see today was already recognised on playing cards and many other places. 

There are various theories as to how and why the new shape came about: some say it is the shape of fig leaves, ivy leaves or the water lily – all symbols associated with fidelity. Some say that the top of the shape represents the buttocks, breasts and various other parts of the human anatomy associated with desire. These hypotheses, however, appear to have come about in the 1960s and have no real historical evidence to suggest this is the case. There doesn’t even appear to be sufficient evidence connecting the old pear shaped heart with the newer version.

 

Big Pink Heart (circa 1910)

During the 19th century, a period heavily influenced by the Romantics (late 18th century to early 19th century), the heart symbol became heavily associated with romantic love, passion and sacrifice. This was also the time when the penny post created the craze for greetings cards. St Valentine's Day cards with copious, heavily decorated heart symbols were very popular and, at the time, deeply romantic. Since then the use of the heart around St Valentine's Day has become more popular than ever.

Image from 'Keith Haring: The Political Line' exhibition by Keith Haring

In contemporary art, artists took the heart symbol and included it in some of their most famous works. Keith Haring, the American artist and social activist used hearts in his earliest work and carried this theme on throughout his entire career. At a glance, the vibrant, cartoon-like simplicity of Haring's illustrations look innocent and fun. The drawings are in fact of two men in love, which was a bold and positive statement during the time it was created in the 1980s. The positive statements were praised as helping society accept people for who they were. The bold lines around the heart are seen as large gestures of positive energy – something very characteristic of Haring. He was believed to be a real romantic and noted for believing in the best in humanity with the power of love.

Queen Kate of Hearts by Marietta Osyan
Queen Kate of Hearts by Marietta Osyan

Tracey Emin had a variety of live exhibitions of her neon signs, most famous among the locations were Times Square and The Peninsula, Hong Kong. These neon signs were messages of love, often surrounded by the heart symbol. In a world where most signs are advertising, a message of genuine love really stands out – particularly when it has a heart drawn around it. In an interview with the White Cube gallery Tracey Emin explained, "It's an eternal statement about love […] Even if it sounds over romantic or corny, at the end of the day nearly everyone must have experienced that." 

Love Heart 'embrace' Lino Print by Lauren Downes
Love Heart 'embrace' Lino Print by Lauren Downes

After much research and few answers, historians have concluded that there are a number of possibilities to explain the reason why the heart symbol is the shape it is, but none of them have been documented. Much like art itself, the answer to our title is subjective – a heart shape can be the way it is for any reason you want.

Why do you think hearts are drawn the shape they are?

Golden Heart by Kris  Mercer
Golden Heart by Kris Mercer

Image credits:

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne/ Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by José de Páez/ http://arttattler.com/archivelatinamerica.html/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showing woman holding heart shaped decoration and flowers, scanned from period card from ca. 1910 with no notice of copyright.

Keith Haring: The Political Line/ Aaron Muszalski - Flickr/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

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Art History | Artists

Winter Exhibition at Malvern Theatres - 9 Jan - 18 Feb 2017

by Humph Hack 8. January 2017 14:25

All artists draw inspiration from the world about them. In some cases the starting point is nature itself, in others it is humanity, while for yet others, the world of fantasy takes over. But in every case, art without reference to elements which are recognizable cannot engage the viewer. And, it is the capacity to engage which separates the noteworthy from the merely mundane. Art should not be for decoration but for far more. Living with a good work of art involves a daily conversation. Owning a work by one of the 3 artists showing in the new exhibition in Malvern Theatres would make such a dialogue possible.

 Miriam Meek had a love for painting and drawing throughout childhood. She began devoting more time to developing her style of painting following her youngest child starting school. Now several years later, she has exhibited across the Midlands as well as selling via the internet. 

Working with acrylic, her semi abstract paintings are inspired by the sky and it's ever changing colour and movement. Whatever the time of day or the time of year, as the light changes, the sky provides endless new ideas. Whether it is vibrant or a gentleness in the light depicted, each painting has a journey and a story of it's own.

Iso Bella chooses a similar mode of expression, but for her the whole landscape becomes her inspiration. She works in a variety of media. Each, whether, watercolour, oils or acrylics allows and encourages different interpretations of what she has observed. Although she also produces prints, all the work in this show are paintings on canvas. She has exhibited and sold across the UK. Both Miriam and Iso produce works which, although drawing inspiration from nature, rely upon their images evoking the transient nature of the play of light in the natural environment. Photographic they are not, they are more real as a result.

Rachel Blackwell’s works may at first glance seem more straightforward. Her images are all recognisable, but of course, all are imagined, not records of real events. Her work is often bought by parents for their children but is loved by both. All of us have memories of tales told to us and by us, intended for the young, but enjoyed because they continue to echo around our heads as innocent memories. This is the World that Rachel inhabits.

The exhibition runs every day – all day from January 9th to February 18th.

 

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Capturing The Beauty Of The Rain In Art

by Aileen Mitchell 6. January 2017 09:00

From 'Purple Rain' to impressionism, this month we take a look at how art celebrates the beauty of some classic British weather. January isn't exactly famous for its sunny skies, so what better time to throw a positive and artistic light on our winter elements?

The impressionist painters of the 19th century were also known for celebrating wet weather in their art. A large part of impressionism is about capturing the ever-changing light and atmosphere in a painting. For example, Renoir's beautiful sunny afternoon pieces and Claude Monet's dreamy botanical landscapes. But there are some famous pieces that depict less than ideal weather conditions for painting en plein air, as the impressioists did. 

Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte

Although it may not seemlike the typical style of impressionist paintings with its almost 3D-like quality, 'Paris Street; Rainy Day' shows a very real atmosphere in the way the rain is painted, shimmering on the cobbled streets. 

Hiroshige van Gogh

Bridge in the Rain by Vincent Van Gogh (right, seen here with Hiroshige's original, left)

Vincent Van Gogh was a huge fan of Japanese art, so much so that he created his own paintings in the same style. 'Bridge in the Rain' is actually Van Gogh's painted copy of the original print by the Japanese artist, Utagawa Hiroshige. Although the dimensions were kept the same, Van Gogh has added his signature textured brush strokes and vibrant colour to the piece to make it his own. 

Jockeys in the Rain

Jockeys in the Rain by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas, one of the founding fathers of impressionim, is famous for his equine art and portraits of ballet dancers. Here we see the jockeys and their horses in the rain but in the rain. Degas painted many scenes of jockeys and horses, but not many in the rain. Degas's classic delicate strokes and depiction of the light creates the impression of soft and heavy rain. 

Morning on the Seine

Morning on the Seine In The Rain by Claude Monet

Unlike the dreamy landscapes of river on sunny afternoons, Claude Monet's 'Morning on the Seine In The Rain' depicts the busy surface of the river as rain drops hit it. The blend of the same colours from the sky and the trees into the river create the impression of a downpour and a very wet morning. 

ArtGallery artists capturing the rain

Evening City Rain by Aisha Haider

Evening City Rain by Aisher Haider

Evening City Rain celebrates the atmposheric scene of a rainy evening. The very realistic rain drops in the forground create the illusion of looking out at the painting through a window onto the rainy street. 

Silhouettes by Stephen Casey

Silhouettes by Stephen Casey

Stephen Casey creates the feeling of falling rain in the large, vertical brush strokes that make up the background of the piece. 

After Rain by Olena Topliss

After Rain by Olena Topliss

Olena Topliss has created a very dramatic skyscape achieving photorealism with her dabbed, soft clouds. Playing with light in a way that would make any impressionist proud, this piece is very atmospheric and really captures the beauty of a rainy landscape. 

Autumn Rain by Robert Jackson

Autumn Rain by Robert Jackson

Robert Jackson's abstract is a very tangible piece portraying condensation, water droplets and the suggestion of an autumn landscape in the background.

The Walk Home  by Pippa Buist

The Walk Home by Pippa Buist

A watercolour scene reminiscent of Caillebotte, Pippa Buist has created a classic city street scene in the rain. The light reflected on the wet pavements and water of the canal really gives the viewer the beautiful impression of a very wet day. 

Fin by Yary Dluhos

Fin by Yary Dluchos

Yary Dluchos's oil painting on canvas has bold strokes and palette knife strokes that catch the constantly changing atmosphere in a scene that impressionism also captures. The drips trickling down the canvas in a background layer gives the sensation of drizzly weather, combined with downward strokes emulate falling rain.  

Raindrops On Hosta Leaves by Kate Esmarch

Raindrops On Hosta Leaves by Kate Esmarch

A subject can be beautiful to observe and paint whether it is a wide open landscape or a very small detail. 'Raindrops On Hosta Leaves' is a great photorealist acrylic painting that captures the small but beautiful detail of raindrops on a leaf. 

Londoners in the Rain by Lesley Blackburn
Londoners in the Rain by Lesley Blackburn

London is always a great muse: full of drama, interesting scenes, and a never ending opportunity to people-watch. Lesley Blackburn has captured the hustle and bustle of a busy London street in the rain wit her oil on canvas painting. The wet, reflective pavement in the foreground really catches the eye and sets the rainy scene from a firest glance. 

Find more paintings, illustrations and drawings on our gallery that either depict the rain or distract you from it on our online gallery

Image credits:

Rue de Paris, temps de pluie, Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) / 5wEUCOlEf-EaVQ at Google Cultural Institute / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Montage personnel de deux images : un tableau original d'Hiroshige et une copie de Van Gogh / 'Own work' / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Jockeys in the Rain, Edgar Degas 1886 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Morning on the Seine in the Rain, Claude Monet 1897 - 1898 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

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Art History | Artists

Humph Hack's Love Of Buildings

by Aileen Mitchell 4. January 2017 10:44

When I was studying "A" level art, part of the course was the history of architecture. I had never really thought much about buildings before that. They provided shelter, warmth; a living space and in most cases that was all there was to it.

My mind was changed and my eyes were opened by the works of architects like Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. In each case it was the exterior of the buildings which excited me. I determined to study architecture and spent many hours sketching the exterior of fantastic houses – many split-level in construction.

The Cathedral - Opus 2 by Humph Hack
The Cathedral - Opus 2 by Humph Hack

My parents were delighted with my career plans. I did a week of work experience in an architects’ office – and hated it. Most people spent all their time deciding on which side the doors should hinge or how deep to make the skirting boards; and everybody talked “cost reduction” all day long. The day I applied to college of art in Birmingham, my parents thought I was going to an interview at the local Architecture college but I was headed for the Fine Art Department of the College of Art. On my return in the evening, the answer to my parents’ questions about how I got on was...“There’s good news and bad news!!”

I successfully completed my degree in Fine Art and a further year to train to teach but maintained my interest in the outward appearance of buildings. After I retired from teaching I decided to use my new found freedom to travel and collect ideas for paintings of interesting architecture.

Malvern Priory From the Hills by Humph Hack
Malvern Priory From the Hills by Humph Hack

I have visited many European countries seeking out buildings which excite me. I take multiple photographs and on returning to my studio seek out those which express the nature of a particular building best and amalgamate several to form the basis of my painted composition. I hope to emphasise aspects of the texture, colour and scale of a building – ignoring or reducing the impact of irrelevant detail and concentrating on those elements which make the building unique.

I have little or no idea of how a painting will look when finished, as I attack the bare canvas! I have found that the technique works as well for domestic architecture as it does for the grand public edifice –as long as the subject matter excites me in some tangible way. I have sold steadily on the internet and through exhibitions. My work is held by collectors throughout the UK and Europe.

Little Malvern Court - Worcestershire by Humph Hack
Little Malvern Court - Worcestershire by Humph Hack

I have been particularly pleased with the ArtGallery.co.uk website which gives me a chance to exhibit my work to a wide audience – and how rewarding it is when you get the sort of response that I received from a very satisfied customer whose feedback is the latest to be posted on the ArtGallery.co.uk testimonial page.

So, where to next on my travels – well, I know little of Germany apart from Berlin and my visits to Italy are limited to Rome and Venice. There is much of Europe and Eastern Europe in particular which remains to be explored. And the UK always has surprises round the corner. I shall not run out of exciting subject matter. My wife with whom I travel shares my excitement in buildings and miraculously we are lucky enough to live in a split-level house which could have been the subject of my adolescent dreams.

Humph Hack

Humph Hack's art gallery »

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Artists | Artists Corner | Being an Artist

Father Christmas in Art History

by Aileen Mitchell 19. December 2016 08:56

There are few iconic celebrities who make the select group of people painted again and again throughout history. Religious icons have secured most of the top spots, but there is one much-loved individual who has also made his mark many times. We're talking, of course, about Saint Nicholas or Father Christmas.

*Spoiler alert: This post is about to detail spoilers about Father Christmas.

Father Christmas, or Santa, is a character based on the real life fourth century archbishop, Saint Nicholas of Myra, Asia Minor (known today as Demre, Turkey). Well respected for his regular miracles of resurrecting children and saving men from drowning at sea, Saint Nicholas was made patron saint of sailors, merchants, children and much more.

Saint Nicholas was also widely known for his secret gift giving, a trait that directly inspired the creation of modern day Father Christmas.

Saint Nicholas, 1799

Usually found in Russian Eastern Orthodox paintings, Saint Nicholas sports a modest white, fluffy beard and his archbishop robes.

Medieval depictions of Saint Nicholas often portray him as having darker skin, a complexion akin to the people of his Myran origin. Here was see him with darker skin and a bald head, surrounded by famous scenes from his life like resurrecting three children from a wooden barrel.

Russia ca 1675 St Nicholas of Zaraisk with Saints and Festival Scenes

Russia ca 1675 St Nicholas of Zaraisk with Saints & Festival Scenes

Many people believe the red worn by modern day Father Christmas was designed as marketing by the fizzy drink giant, Coca Cola. Although this colour definitely works in their favour, there are many paintings of Saint Nicholas wearing red archbishop robes that pre-date Coca Cola by hundreds of years – a good bit of trivia to use at the table during Christmas dinner!

Unlike many saints whose bodies were divided and distributed to various churches after their death (for religious reasons), Saint Nicholas remains in one piece where he was laid to rest in Bari, Italy. Because of this, a team of scientists in the 1950s were able to analyse the body and reveal the man was barely five feet tall with a broken nose.

Christmas Scene, 1820 by Franz Xaver Frh, vom Paumgartten

Christmas Scene, 1820 by Franz Xaver Frh, vom Paumgartten

This painting from Austria shows how Saint Nicholas is beginning to become part of the Christmas scene and take on a role similar to the Father Christmas we know today. We see the classic depiction of the archbishop with the white beard joining in with the family's festivities and, importantly, holding a child's hand. This shows how Saint Nicholas's recognised kindness to children was used as a main theme for the character of Father Christmas.

The character peering round the door on the left is known as 'Krampus', a popular figure in the Christmas story in Austrian and Nordic countries. Sometimes seen as the 'anti-santa', Krampus would punish naughty children. This, thankfully, did not make it over to the British interpretation. He's terrifying.

1888 Saves from Death

Saint Nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents From Death by Ilja Repin

Saint Nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents From Death by Ilja Repin

One thing Saint Nicholas does not seem to have been is overweight – probably because the real Saint Nicholas didn't have to make his way through thousands of mince pies. In this painting by Ilya Repin, he is notably thin, but still supports the iconic white beard.

Whilst the real man is still being painted, the character Father Chirstmas began to model for several paintings, etchings and illustrations by this point. One of his most famous debuts was a starring role for Mason's wine essences – yes, he became a commercial man very quickly!

Father Christmas, Tuck Photo Oilette postcard 1919

Father Christmas, Tuck Photo Oilette postcard 1919

During the early 1800s, Father Christmas kept a relatively low profile so as not to be associated with the Lords of Misrule. By the 1900s he made a full comeback and was a well-established figure appearing in many famous paintings and adverts according to his newly found official description in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Old Christmas, Illustrated London News 24 December 1842

Old Christmas, Illustrated London News 24 December, 1842

He is described as "the personification of Christmas as a benevolent old man with a flowing white beard, wearing a red sleeved gown and hood trimmed with white fur, and carrying a sack of Christmas presents". Magazines began to print pictures of a cheerful old man still in red robes and surrounded by food.

And to this day, Father Christmas lives on in art! See for yourself on our online gallery.

Santa Claus by Christina Panou

Santa Claus by Christina Panou

Welcome Santa Claus by Christina Panou

Welcome to Santa Claus by Christina Panou

PLAYING FATHER CHRISTMAS by NIGEL FARNWORTH

Playing Father Christmas by Nigel Farnworth

Image credits

Saint Nicholas, 1799 Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou, Mount Athos/

Copyright © 2002-2016 St. Nicholas Center

Russia ca 1675 St Nicholas of Zaraisk with Saints & Festival Scenes/1998,1104.1/ © The Trustees of the British Museum

Christmas Scene, 1820/ Franz Xaver Frh, vom Paumgartten Kunstverlag Wolfrum Vienna, Austria 2005/ © 1987 Museen d. Stadt Wien

Saint Nicholas of Myra Saves Three Innocents From Death by Ilja Repin/ GalleriX/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Tuck postcard, in the Photo Oilette series, number C7513/ TuckDB Postcards/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

'Old Christmas' The illustration is accompanied by a verse, 'The Song of the Wassail Bowl'/ User:MichaelMaggs/Gallery / Wikimedia Commons

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Art History

Christmas Delivery Dates 2016

by Aileen Mitchell 9. December 2016 12:19

Happy Christmas!

Original art is one of the most personal and thoughtful gifts you can give. We also have a brand-new selection of hand-crafted gifts available this Christmas. 

At Christmas we all want our presents to arrive on time. Here's what you need to know for this year. 

Our artists always try their best to arrange deliveries before Christmas. Please note that artists are of course in the hands of Royal Mail or couriers. We suggest the following latest dates for you to order to give artists the best chance of getting your art to you in time for Christmas 

Artworks and gifts

Delivery addressLast ordering date
UK Monday 19th December 2016
Europe Wednesday 14th December 2016

Gift Vouchers

TypeLast ordering date
Gift vouchers in a presentation card Wednesday 21st December
Email vouchers Saturday 24th December

Christmas card

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Buying Art

Stella Dunkley - How To Choose Art For Your Home

by Aileen Mitchell 28. November 2016 08:36

Stella DunkleyWhether you are buying art as a gift, to add to your art collection, or as a potential investment, ArtGallery.co.uk has a wide variety of affordable art to choose from, browse through the collection of artworks in all styles & mediums from the comfort of your home or place of work, created by talented artists from around the UK, once you have chosen your art it is carefully wrapped and delivered safely to your door.

An original piece of art for friends or family on a special occasion, Christmas or birthday is a gift that will last a lifetime, buying or commissioning art for a wedding present for example is a great way for a more personal touch, you could have a honeymoon or a wedding photo made into a lasting momento of this special day, or maybe a landscape painting, limited edition print or photograph from an area that they have fond memories of.

Gift vouchers are ideal if you would prefer the recipient to be able to choose their art. Seascapes are always popular, calm and tranquil oceans or crashing waves below a stormy sky, art can bring thoughts & memories of visits to the coast and has a wonderful way of creating an emotional response and a connection for the viewer.

Gaze at a beautiful atmospheric sunset over the sea in your living room! Or art linked to a hobby or pastime is a great idea, original, contemporary or traditional art will enhance and bring style and colour to any home or work environment.

Some aspects to consider when choosing your art are: the medium, oils & acrylic: acrylic is the modern equivalent to oils, its faster drying & can be used to create a wide variety of effects. Oils create wonderfully subtle blends of colour, both have supports of canvas, linen or wood panel, or watercolour: watercolours can have a beautiful delicate quality, watercolours, prints, photographs and art on paper will need framing for protection.

Colour can play a very important role in our everyday lives, it's mood enhancing, vibrant reds and orange can create a positive & sunny feel when the weather is gloomy! Yellows and golds are uplifting & stimulating, greens and blues are calming and help us to relax and unwind.

The stunning scenery of the Dorset shoreline is the main inspiration for my landscape and seascape paintings, I work in most mediums on canvas, linen & paper, my preferred colour palette varies from vibrant reds to neutral cream and gold & cool greens and greys, I enjoy the challenge of creating light and atmosphere, capturing the changing light of the coast, my inspirations come from the intensity of light and colour at sunrise and sunset, reflections of boats on the water, stormy skies over the sea & the patterns and textures of the natural world. I sell & exhibit worldwide and work to commission on a regular basis Stella Dunkley

 Beyond The Bay To Old Harry by Stella Dunkley

Sunrise Over The Bay by Stella Dunkley

 Magenta Sunset by Stella Dunkley

 Departing Storm by Stella Dunkley

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    Spencer House
    34 Long Street
    Tetbury
    Gloucestershire
    GL8 8AQ