“British Painting from Turner to Whistler” at Hermitage Foundation

LIVING in London, as I did from 1994 to 1999 meant being spoiled for choice when it came to top-notch museums and art galleries. In particular I enjoyed visiting the Tate Britain on Millbank, which houses the nation’s Turner Collection as well as beloved works by the Pre-Raphaelites and remarkable portraits by the American painters John Singer Sargent and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

So it’s a huge pleasure to learn that the Hermitage Foundation in Lausanne will continue its run of outstanding art exhibitions with the opening on February 1st of “British Painting from Turner to Whistler”.

First time in Switzerland
Hermitage Lausanne British Collinson
James Collinson, At the Bazaar, 1857, oil on panel, 60,6×45,7cm, Sheffield Museum, Graves Gift 1929, ©Sheffield Museum.

The exhibition will introduce some 60 British artworks to Switzerland for the very first time and give an unparalleled look at the art produced during this golden age of the British Empire, while focusing on its mesmerizing originality.

In addition to works by Turner, whose technique led the way for Impressionism, the collection will include pieces by other artists who also won fame through landscape painting, including Atkinson Grimshaw and Baker Pyne.

The exhibit will also place onus on paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood including ones by John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti as well as by artists of the Aesthetic Movement (Edward Burne-Jones and Lawrence Alma-Tadema). Both groups found inspiration in literature, mythology and antiquity.

Art that reflects changing times
Hermitage foundation Emslie
Alfred Edward Emslie, Bending Sail after a Gale, 1881, oil on canvas, 68x102cm, Private Collection, ©photo TDR.

Some images, while beautiful in appearance, can nevertheless depict tumultuous times in the life of the nation and its citizens. The industrial revolution and rapid development of cities and public transport became a source of inspiration for compelling artworks that brought to life different facets of modern life and the social repercussions that sprang from them.

I’m looking forward to taking in the work of Sargent and Whistler, who were the most celebrated portrait painters of their era. They depicted the cream of high society at the time, inciting both admiration and scandal, but also didn’t shy away from more challenging social topics.

Contemporary photographs complete the picture
Hermitage exhibit Millais
John Everett Millais, The Eve of Saint Agnes, 1863, oil on canvas, 117,8 x 154,3cm, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, ©Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

A collection of photogravures will complement the paintings in the exhibition, showcasing the great names in British photography: Julia Margaret Cameron and Henry Fox Talbot, to name a few.

A series of photographs of Jane Morris, muse to the Pre-Raphaelites, will give visitors an opportunity to judge for themselves how well those artists succeeded in capturing her remarkable beauty.

This exhibition will undoubtedly prove to be a sure-fire hit and hopefully signposts more outstanding exhibitions to follow this year. If this genre of painting appeals to you, make a point of seeing it and afterwards, please let me know if you enjoyed your visit to the Hermitage and why. I’d love to know if you share my enthusiasm for these painters and their artworks. 

British Painting from Turner to Whistler
1 February to 2 June 2019
Hermitage Foundation
2, rte du Signal,
CH-1000 Lausanne 8
T. +41 (0)21 320 50 01
Visits and activities
Practical Info: hours, fees, transport
L’Esquisse café-restaurant

Main photo caption: George William Joy, The Bayswater Omnibus, 1895, oil on canvas, 120,6×172,5 cm, Museum of London, ©George William Joy / Museum of London.

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