PEOPLE’S choices are at the heart of a special exhibition at the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery in Stalybridge.
The paintings, which all come from the Tameside Council collection, are divided into five categories - Renaissance masterpieces, animal art, portraits, landscapes and still Life - and each includes a people’s choice: a work selected by members of the public in an online survey.
Many of the works on display could be termed hidden gems and are being exhibited for the first time in several years.
The paintings include “Goldfish and Horse” by BR Swinnerton who was a member of the East London Group. This was a society of mainly working-class artists best known for their depictions of deserted East End streets. However, they also produced portraits and depictions of domestic interiors. Swinnerton worked in a piano factory and painted in his spare time.
“Goldfish and Horse” was displayed at the group’s first annual exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1928.
The portraits section features “The Maid Servant” by William Arthur Breakspeare (1881). In an interesting departure from Victorian convention, Breakspeare is showing that beauty is not bound by class.
Breakspeare studied in Paris and was a founding member of the Birmingham Art Circle in 1879.
“Holy Family with St Anne and St John”, attributed to Giulio Romano (1499-1546), is one of the Tameside collection’s masterpieces. It was acquired by the Cheetham family on their overseas travels in the 19th century. Like their fellow Victorian entrepreneurs, the Cheethams collected artworks that could demonstrate their knowledge of history and culture.
Romano was a painter and architect who studied under Raphael in the early 16th century. Another version of this painting hangs in the Louvre in Paris.
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive member with responsibility for museums and galleries, said: “The borough art collection contains some wonderful pieces of art. I’m delighted that this exhibition offers the chance to see more of it – especially works chosen by the public.”
You can see the exhibition of more than 30 works until February. The Astley Cheetham Gallery can be found above Stalybridge Library, Trinity Street, and is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month (10am to 3pm) as well as every Saturday in August.
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