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News | Published: Thu 31 Jan 2008

On the BrinkLoan of Victorian narrative paintings brings new look to Gallery 2

To ring the changes in 2008, the Museum is displaying in Gallery 2 an exceptional loan of Victorian narrative paintings from a private collection. The loan will be complemented by works from the Museum’s own collections, some, such as Alfred Elmore’s On the Brink, long-standing favourites, others, by William Gill and Arthur Hughes, more rarely seen.

The collection was formed by the late Sir David Scott, who relished the gentle humour, piquant anecdote, and moralising - often quirky - subjects that typically characterize this very ‘British’ style of painting. The selection on display includes works by painters familiar to 21st-century audiences, such as Richard Dadd and William Dyce, as well as artists lesser-known today who were nevertheless extraordinarily popular household names in their day, such as John Calcott Horsely, Sophie Anderson and Emily Osborn.

A fascinating range of subjects depicts aspects of Victorian culture and life, telling tales of the desperate straits of an orphaned woman artist, joining a family outing to the seaside and warning of the perils of courtship. In contrast to these explorations of the harsh realities of modern life, artists such as Dadd and John Anster Fitzgerald explored fantasy fairy worlds where - not infrequently inspired by literary precedent - they were able to give free range to their abundantly fertile imaginations.

The new-look Gallery 2 is now open to the public.