York Art Gallery’s latest exhibition is the first solo exhibition of Albert Moore since his death in 1893. The show has been organised by York Museums Trust and Museum De Buitenplaats, in Eelde, Netherlands. The work of Albert Moore is showcased alongside other works that are dedicated to to the artistic influence of Yorkshire. Through both watercolour and painting, Moore’s superb female figures reflect the beauty of the classical form and the modernity Moore used in his paintings.
The first room is completely dedicated to Albert Moore’s work. Currently, the Gallery is trying to raise funds for a rare chance to buy Moore’s A Revery (1892) for £3 million, which is on display at this exhibition. Beads (1875) was a particular favourite of mine because of the almost photograph-like quality of the work. Alongside preliminary sketches, the process of Moore’s work was clearly displayed as a progression to the final outcome of a fantastic painting. The collection highlighted the classical influences of that Moore drew from, particularly that of Japan and Greece.
The exhibition then expands to consider the works of other students of the York School of Art and Design (now York College). Particularly dedicated to Dennis Donn, the room exemplifies the early and later works of the school before becoming York College. The school’s course was particularly focused on studies of still life, later moving onto that of anatomy. This room also has enhanced the use of the space by introducing an area in which you can sit and practice drawing a classical sculpture (all tools provided!).
The third room emphasises the family life of Moore, exhibiting work of his family members. Although their styles are very different, it is obvious why Albert became a painter and the encouragement he received from his family circle to pursue such a career. Both York and Yorkshire provided great inspirations for Moore’s family, particularly the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in the Museum Gardens and the rural landscapes.
Finally, the last room provides the context for which Moore was painting in, exhibiting the art of some of his direct contemporaries. Although some works appear more unconventional than that of Moore’s figures, all of these paintings reflect a time in which foreign influences dominated art. Such presentation leads to the question whether Moore was a unique amalgamation of style and influence against his contemporaries. From this room alone, Moore does not have a direct comparison; instead he falls between the exoticism of Joseph Pierre Olivier Coomans’ The Mask (1869) and figure of Alfred Walter Bayes’ Day Dreams (1902-3).
All in all, I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition to see some fantastic and beautiful works of art that have seldom been seen together. Make sure you dedicate some time to your visit so you can practice your drawing – I know I’ll be going back to give it a go!