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A Visit To The Walker Art Gallery in 1902

In today's 'Guide To Liverpool 1902, we join the authors the Littlebury Brothers in a visit to the Walker Art Gallery. As with most of the tours it would be interesting to re-visit them now to see what has changed, in the case of the Walker many of the artworks are still on display.

Standing at the north end of St. George's Hall and looking across the street, we notice a fine group of buildings, extending from the County Sessions House on the right, down William Brown Street, to Byrom Street on the left. This group is formed by the well-known Walker Art Gallery (almost immediately opposite), the circular Picton Library, Brown Reading Room, and the adjoining Museum; and to the extreme left, with frontages to William Brown Street and Byrom Street, the New Museum Extension and Technical College. As these buildings are each in their turn worthy of special notice, we take them in order and first visit the Walker Art Gallery.

This beautiful Provincial Gallery forms a sinking instance of generosity on the part of a citizen and ex-Mayor of Liverpool, the late Sir A. Walker, Bart. A number of Liverpool ratepayers feeling indisposed to countenance the cost of erecting a suggested Art Gallery, Sir A. B. Walker, in 1873, generously made it a personal matter, and presented a cheque for £20,000, subsequently paying £12,000 for additions in 1882-4. The pleasing frontage of the building (180 feet m width) is in the design of the Corinthian order. On each side of the steps as we enter, we notice marble statues to Michael Angelo (left of entrance) and Raphael (right).

There are many Galleries in the building, the largest measuring 70 feet by 30 feet. Portions of the Gallery are closed at certain limes of the year, for the arrangement of the Annual Exhibition, but there are many works of world-wide repute always on view. An official catalogue being issued, we do not attempt to deal at great length with the exhibits, but here mention some of those which it will be advisable for the visitor to notice.

Entrance Hall.

Busts and portraits, and some statues by Henry Weekes and John Gibson.

Gallery to Left.

The celebrated William Roscoe collection is to be seen here, representing  examples of the Schools of Painting from the 13th century; also the beautiful statue, “ Fate Led,” by Albert Toft. From this room we enter Galleries (the largest one measuring 72 by 35 feet), which contain panels, friezes, and mouldings, and Copies of the most celebrated antique statues, the well-known Laocoon, L’Arrotine Virgin and Child (small copy), and the colossal Farnese Hercules being noticeable. Many fine busts, Garibaldi, Dr. Martineau, and an interesting model of Ancient Rome.

Gallery to Right of Hall

Here we first notice the group of pictures painted and presented by Sir John Gilbert; the familiar “ Death of Nelson,” by Daniel Maclise ; and “ Eve of St. Bartholomew,” by A. B. Clay. Passing from this Gallery into a smaller room (Statuary), “ The Dying Gladiator,” Canova’s “ Cupid and Psyche,” a striking modern group, “ Rugby Football,” presented by the sculptor B. Creswick, and several paintings. We now go up the staircase, and to the left notice “ Rome,” by Turner, and to the right, “The Death of Nelson,” by Samuel Drummond.

The well-lighted Hall to which we ascend is full of interest. In the middle of this upper vestibule stands the beautiful bronze statue of “ Peace,” by Onslow Ford. Suitably occupying a central position under an arch, is a large statue to the generous donor of the Gallery, bearing an inscription :—“ Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, Kt. Erected to the munificent donor of the Walker Art Gallery by voluntary subscriptions. Liverpool, 3rd September, 1880.” On the wall at the back of this statue is the original sketch by E. M. Ward for “Jane Lane.” Many interesting busts are here; members of the Royal Family by Count Gleichen and F. J. Williamson; W. E. Gladstone, by A. Bruce Joy; Sir J. E. Millais, by J. E. Boehm ; Charles J. Fox, by J. Nollckens ; Duke of Wellington, by Matthew Noble; and a very fine “Study of a Head,” by Goscombe John.

Small Room, Upper Vestibule.

We find directly facing us at the end of this Gallery, the marvellous “ Dante’s Dream,” by Rossetti; on each side of this hang Constable’s “ Rainy Day ” and “ Summer Storm.” Close at hand, Sir John Millais’ “ Lorenzo and Isabella,” and “The Triumph of the Innocents,” by the great Pre-Raphaelite, W. Holman Hunt. Here also we have the exquisite “ Expulsion of Adam and Eve,” by Arthur T. Nowell. Also at the same side of the room, “The Road to Camelot,” by G. H. Boughton; “ Meadow Sweets,” by David Murray; Dendy Sadler’s “ Friday; “ Nature’s Mirror,” by Peter Ghent; and “When did you last see your Hither ? ” by W. F. Yeames. Near the doorway, Arthur Hacker’s “ Pelagia and Philammon,” and l he “ Eve of the Regatta,” by W. Logsdail. In the centre of this Gallery is the vigorous statue of “ A Mower,” by Hamo Thornycroft. Sir E. Burne-Jones’ “Sponsa de Libano” is seen here. Robert bowler’s “Eve, and the Voices”; the charming “ Idyl,” by Maurice Grieffenhagen; “ Pageant of Childhood,” by T. C. Gotch; and “ Nearing the Needles,” by Henry Moore.

In the First Large Room.

“Elijah in the Wilderness,” by Lord Leighton; “ Dante and Beatrice,” by Henry Holiday ; “ Samson,” Solomon J. Solomon; “ Ruth and Naomi,” P. H. Calderon; “ O Mistress Mine,” E. A. Abbey ; the fine portrait of “ Monsignor Nugent,” by J. J. Shannon; “A Reverie,” by Frank Dicksee ; “Ophelia,” Henrietta Rae; “The Pool in the Wood,” Colin Hunter; “A New Light in the Hareem,” F. Goodall; “ Saving the Guns,” R. Caton Woodville; and “ Whitehall,” by E. M. Ward.

Turning through a door on the right side of this Gallery, we enter two small rooms, which lead into a larger Gallery.

First Small Room out of Right Gallery.

Water colours are shown here, chief among which are—“When Summer Sweetly Shines,” John McDougal; “There is a Rapture,” and, George Cockram ; “ Morning,” W. Stephenson ; “ How we caught the Pilchards,” Napier Hemy ; “ Ronda Fair,” Arthur Melville; and the interesting sketches by Peter Ghent of the River Vyrnwy and Village of Llanwddyn. This place is now submerged, and the valley the great Reservoir for the Liverpool water supply

Second Small Room out of Right Gallery.

The most interesting amongst the oil paintings here are -“ Hard Times,” Prof. F. Brown; “Ariel,” Robert Fowler ; “ Select Committee’ Stacey Marks; ‘‘The Glory of Young Men,” and, H. Windsor Fry; “Table d'hôte,” J. C. Dollman; “True Friends,” William Huggins; “The Beach at Scheveningen,” W. J. J. C. Bond; and in the Large Gallery :— Two small pictures, “English River,” John Constable; fine works by E. Armitage, Briton Riviere, Sir E. J. Poynter (“Faithful unto death”), Andrew (low (“A War Despatch at the Hotel de Ville”); Ernest Crofts (“Evening at the Battle of  Waterloo”),  Aumonier, J. Brett, J. McWhirter, B. W. Leader; “ A Venetian Faction Regatta,” by W. H. Bartlett; ill ho the charming “Goose Girl,” by Val Prinsep; Top of the Tide,” Walter Bayes; “A Shaft of Iight,” Edward Hobley ; “ Street in Brittany,” Stanhope Forbes; “ From Green to Gold,” Yeend King ; “ The Word,” Edgar Bundy ; “ Ecce Agnus Dei,” A. Chevallier Tayler; “On the Murray I firth,” John Fraser ; and the large canvas by Delaroche of “Napoleon crossing the St. Bernard.”


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