Sunday, 20 February 2011

Pallant House

Yesterday I went to visit Pallant House in Chichester, something I wanted to do for a long time.
Still bruised by the harsh critiques that my painting of Clelia received last Monday during the filming of a tv show ( more about this later as I digest the whole experience), I dragged my husband to a soothing arty day out.

Pallant House is a museum that specializes in British twentieth century painting. The permanent collection originates from the donation of the Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral, just a short walk away. More donations followed, particularly my favourite works on display were coming from the collection of the architect Colin St John Wilson.

 Colin St John Wilson by William Coldstream

I was familiar with his name not for being the architect of the British Library ( shame on me), but from having read his account of being painted by William Coldstream and Michael Andrews, two painters I venerate. This slim book is such a better read than the redundant Man in a Blue Scarf about sitting for Lucian Freud. There is already so much information on Freud out there and the book does not reveal anything really surprising. Wilson's account instead tells about these less well known artists and has many images of their works.

Wilson by Michael Andrews

Wilson not only donated his collection, but is also the architect who designed the modern extension of the museum. I have to say that the pleasure of the visit is greatly enhanced by the architecture of the place: the rooms have nice, elegant proportions and perfect light. The paintings are hanged at a good distance from one another, they can be appreciated individually but also work as a collection.

Since the collection is not all on display, there is a reserve room, where some of the works in the depot can be also seen, a bit more crammed. I was happy to be able to see this painting by Victor Willing, a painter I have been curious about but never before saw from life.

I really liked this large and mysterious work in which the model boat transforms the room into an ocean. I found a preparatory drawing for the painting here.

Other highlights of my visits were this painting by Michael Andrews together with another one from his Thames series,

this other portrait of Wilson by RB Kitaj

and the three portraits by Coldstream on display. 
I absolutely recommend visiting, even if you have dogs. You can leave them in the car park.

PS This morning we went for a walk in Climping and the landscape there reminded me so much of Patrick George's paintings.


Candace X. Moore said...

Ilaria, Thanks for a great post, I feel like I went along with you. Also, always appreciate finding a new artist who appeals to me. I googled William Coldstream and ordered "The Artist at Work". Looking forward to seeing both of these fine artists working methods. Thanks again. Best.

Ilaria said...

I hope you'll like it, Candace.
They both had a very sensitive way of touching the canvas, it was a real treat for me to see their work !