Visitors to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will be excited to see that our newly hung and interpreted gallery, Art in the Age of Enlightenment and the Birth of Romanticism has opened.
As part of an ongoing development project to improve the display of our collections, our British 18th century paintings were taken off display while we refurbished the gallery and improved the environment of the collection.
The gallery has now been re-painted and refreshed to showcase some of the most prestigious 18th and early 19th century art from Britain and around Europe. Located in Gallery 4 on the second floor; Art in the Age of Enlightenment features work from Francis Danby, Philip James de Loutherbourg, Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, Bernardo Bellotto and Nicholas Pocock.
Art in the Age of Enlightenment gets its name from a period in time where fundamental changes were seen in European philosophy, culture and politics. This era saw huge advancements in the natural sciences, travel and exploration which, in turn, affected both artists themselves and the artwork they produced.
Landscapes and portraiture rose significantly in popularity during this era, and artists drew inspiration from their travels to continental Europe.
This is the first time we’re putting British art alongside other works from the continent. Displaying the art in this way will enable visitors to make connections with the settings and themes depicted, as well as between the paintings, as were seen by the artists following in the footsteps of aristocrats on the Grand Tour.
It’s exciting to see these works back on display and to bring paintings out of the stores which have not been seen in some time – all thanks to the staff in conservation.
‘The Artist’s Studio’ by an unknown British artist has never been seen before by the public eye. Helen Dowding, one of our museum conservators, worked on the piece and managed to bring it up to the best possible standard for public view, despite its original bad condition.
Exhibiting never seen before works of art is exciting for us because it gives us opportunities to inspire visitors in completely new ways.
As well as this new addition, Art in the Age of Enlightenment is home to some of our, as well as your, personal favourites. In the time these paintings have been off display, they have been appreciated all over the world, with several having been on loan to museums and art galleries around the world.
We are really proud to display a stunning selection of these works for public view once again – made possible through a generous donation from the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery.
Art in the Age of Enlightenment and the Birth of Romanticism is now open to the public and free to visit at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. Come along and tell us what you think – we’d love to hear your feedback!