A Cultural Afternoon at the University of Leeds (part 2)

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, University of Leeds.

My husband and I had a day off work and went to Leeds for the afternoon. As we live less than ten miles away this is a regular occurrence in our lives but today we were going to the University of Leeds to look at Quentin Bell’s The Dreamer and to visit the University’s art gallery.

If you want to know a bit about the first half of our afternoon please see my previous post about The Dreamer.

After we had seen The Dreamer in the Clothworkers Courtyard we went to the University’s art gallery. We were glad to go inside as it was a very cold day. I didn’t know what to expect at the gallery but hoped there may be a Duncan Grant painting on display. I knew that one of his paintings of Charleston Farmhouse was in the gallery’s collection but the chances of it being on display weren’t too high. Anyway, I was happy just to have seen The Dreamer and anything else was just a bonus.


Leeds University Main Entrance

As soon as I walked in, there it was.

Farm Buildings at Charleston, Leeds University Art Gallery

 I immediately loved the colours and the tone and the image. I didn’t know what size I expected it to be but it struck me as small so I must have sub-consciously expected it to be bigger. It is roughly square, about 65cm in its frame (about 25″).  Close up it was abstract and the further back I walked the more it came in to view.  More than anything the colours appealed to me. I have visited Charleston and though I don’t recognise the exact view in the painting I definitely recognise it as Charleston. I have a thing about tone and the proportions of light, medium and dark in this painting and frame immediately made me like it.

I was happy. I had seen a Duncan Grant painting. So I thought I would now explore the rest of the gallery. I turned the corner and …. there was a Vanessa Bell painting and then … a Roger Fry! I couldn’t believe it. I found my husband and dragged him over to take a look.


Above, are postcards that I bought at the gallery. The left hand side shows Vanessa Bell’s Still Life (Triple Alliance)  and the right hand side, Roger Fry’s Portrait of Nina Hamnett. They were both on display. I loved the portrait. In real life there is much more detail than is visible in my photograph. Apparently the dress and fabric were designed by Vanessa.

I didn’t like Vanessa’s Still Life that much I’m afraid. I found it too pale and tonally bland. I am interested in it though and I understand that the three domestic objects on the table (an oil lamp and two glass bottles) allude to either the threesome of the relationship between Vanessa, Duncan and Bunny or perhaps refer to World War 1 and the mutual support of the alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy. Certainly The Times newspaper of September 1914 forms part of the collage. Leaned against the right hand side bottle is a cheque and I believe that this has Vanessa’s signature on it.

We had a good day and I feel that I have learned something and seen art that, if it wasn’t for researching my blog, I would never have seen.


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