Southampton City Art Gallery

Southampton City Art Gallery, in the excellent 1930s-built Civic Buildings in that city, contains some major Pre-Raphaelite and related work. Unfortunately, due to the lack of space and the policy of rotating works, much of the best stuff is hidden away at any one time.

On permanent display, at least, is Burne-Jones's complete set of 10 Guaches for the Perseus series - a beautiful group which on their own give a good introduction to the work of the artist. He worked on them from 1876-85, intending to make a set of oils of which only four were ever executed in the end.

Victorian works on show when I last visited included an important William Etty - The World Before the Flood, a large oil showing amorous folk engaged in improper behaviour; boats by the marine painter W. L. Wyllie, and a good E. M. Ward painting of Leicester and Amy Robsart at Cumnor Hall, bright and melodramatic with excellent depiction of fabric. John Collier has a society portrait of Lady Darling, a touch over-romantic. Also in the collection but not on show when I visited are many good things, e.g. Holman Hunt's Afterglow in Egypt (one of two rather different versions), and Frank Holl's Despair.

Later works are William Rothenstein's The Morning Room, with mother and child in front of a window looking onto greenery; William Nicholson's The Morris Dancer in Old Master colours and in the full spirit of the concept, showing nice cracks in the paint; Sir John Lavery's Sybil Sassoon (Countess Rocksavage); and works by Gwen John, Christopher Nevinson, Maxwell Armfield, Brockhurst and a self portrait by Woolmark. Also worth mentioning is a large and excellently representational picture of 1950s York by Richard Eurich (one of Southampton's most distinguished artists, and important as chairman of the F W Smith Bequest purchasing committee in shaping the City collections). Finally there is a witty modern take-off of Madox Brown's Work by David Redfern, set in the same street in Hampstead.

A small artistic walk can be made from outside the gallery, taking in several sculptures, good architecture, and the old City Wall with a few minor museums.

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Victorian art in Britain

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