Alice Anne Graham-Montgomery (1847–1931), Duchess of Buckingham by Sir Francis Bernard (Frank) Dicksee

Perhaps best known to the residents of Cheshire as Countess Egerton of Tatton, Alice Anne Graham-Montgomery added this title to her name on the occasion of her second marriage, this time to Wilbraham Egerton, first and last Earl Egerton of Tatton and heir to the extensive Tatton estate.

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The imposing three-quarter length portrait greets visitors to the Old Hall, much as Lady Alice herself would have greeted guests entering her drawing room over a century ago.

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In The Tepidarium by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

This small painting is easily missed amongst the much larger paintings on the walls of the Lady Lever Gallery. Yet despite its small stature it perfectly exemplifies the draughtsmanship and attention to detail of its creator Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

2015-09 In The Tepidarium by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Alma-Tadema was Dutch born but settled in Britain where he quickly became known for producing historical scenes. He initially focussed on medieval subjects but after a visit to Pompeii in his mid-thirties turned to the ancient world of Greece and Rome. (more…)

Elijah in the Wilderness by Frederic Leighton (1830-1896)

In 1877 the successful businessman and philanthropist Sir Andrew Barclay Walker spent what would be in today’s money millions of pounds establishing an Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Elijah in the Wilderness by Frederic Lord Leighton

Today art lovers continue to be attracted to the remarkable collection held in the Walker Gallery, much of which has been donated by generous benefactors following in the tradition of its founder. This painting is one such example. Frederic Leighton was one of the best known and most respected artists working in the late-Victorian period, but his work was not represented in the gallery’s collection. A local man and successful chemist named Andrew Kurtz commissioned Elijah in the Wilderness directly from Frederic Leighton after a visit to his studio in Holland Park, especially to commemorate the opening of the Walker Gallery. (more…)

Beeston Castle by George Barret Senior

The first stone of Beeston Castle was laid in 1220 by Ranulf Blundeville, Earl of Chester.

Beeston Castle by George Barret Senior

The castle has been derelict since its capture by the Roundheads during the English Civil War but its ruins still cast an imposing sight from its location on an isolated sandstone crag. On a clear day the low-lying land of the Cheshire plain which surrounds it affords a view over eight counties. The majesty of the castle and its surrounding landscape as they would have appeared in the mid eighteenth century are captured perfectly in this oil painting by George Barrett. It depicts the best preserved part of the castle, the inner gatehouse and its two projecting semi-circular towers.  (more…)

The Bow by Talbot Hughes (1869–1942)

The May Day holiday can be traced back as far as the ancient Roman festival of Floralia, a six day festival of games which included the scattering of flowers and the wearing of colourful garments. To this day May Day celebrations are an integral part of English culture marked by activities such as Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and dancing around a maypole.

The Bow by Talbot Hughes

In this petite painting by the noted Victorian artist Talbot Hughes we see an attractive young lady at her dressing (more…)

The Convent Garden by George Dunlop Leslie (1835 – 1921)

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade” wrote Charles Dickens in Great Expectations, a notion which is beautifully encapsulated in this painting.

The Convent Garden

We are presented with a beautiful maiden, dressed elegantly in medieval costume, sitting inside a walled garden. Medievalism was a popular theme in Victorian art; depictions of chivalry and romance were a regular source of inspiration by writers and painters of the era. The luxurious fabric of the dress gives the artist the opportunity to demonstrate his skill and gives imbues the painting with a timeless, ageless quality. The young maiden’s blue dress is reminiscent of that often worn by the Virgin Mary in paintings; the white head dress further substantiates this idea. (more…)

The Madonna and Child with St Anne by after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

The hard work and devotion of mothers everywhere is celebrated on Mothering Sunday which this year falls in March. Although it is now often referred to by the American name of Mothers’ Day, Mothering Sunday has its origins within a very different tradition.

The Madonna and Child with St Anne after Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Centuries ago, people would return to their home or ‘mother’ church annually, on Mothering Sunday. This developed into a tradition whereby children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given time off to visit their mother and family. (more…)