From Turner to Hockney, generations of artists have been inspired by Yorkshire’s diverse and magnificent scenery.
And now the county, its artists and those moved to depict it are being celebrated in a new book, ‘Art and Yorkshire’, by art historian and curator Jane Sellars.
According to Victorian writer John Ruskin, author of Modern Painters, the famous landscape painter JMW Turner was moved to tears by the beauty he found while visiting Yorkshire’s hills and dales. It drew him back time and again.
Indeed, one of the first paintings Jane picked for her book is a view of ‘A Lonely Dell, Wharfedale’, painted by Turner in 1815 - a scene not unfamiliar to the author, as she originates from this part of the county, although now lives in Boston Spa.
The book has a strong autobiographical feel, with Jane explaining how she grew up with and encountered Yorkshire’s art treasures. She says: “I have made quite personal choices of works that I know and like; works I have known all my life. Yorkshire has always attracted great artists because of its beautiful landscapes. Even someone like Hockney, who was born here and couldn’t wait to get away, ended up coming back.”
A former director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Jane is also the author of a book on the artistic endeavours of the world-famous family, who are featured prominently in her new book.
Jane has divided the volume between the themes of landscape, city and industry, the sea and people and has included works by eclectic artists - from the organic sculptures by Henry Moore, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and those by Wakefield-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth, to David Hockney’s jewel-coloured East Yorkshire landscapes; the Staithes seascapes of Laura Knight and landscapes by Malham artist Katharine Holmes.
The fact that one of the best-known contemporary artists, Damien Hirst, grew up in Leeds before becoming London-based is not neglected, nor is the contribution to the county’s art collections of stately homes such as Harewood.
Jane also spotlights artists with a Huddersfield connection, such as Brighouse painter Peter Brook; Sheila Fell, who was commissioned to paint King’s Mill for the town; and LS Lowry, whose famous 1965 work ‘Huddersfield’ still belongs to Huddersfield Art Gallery.
Illustrated with 120 images, the book has a foreword by another of Yorkshire’s famous sons, playwright Alan Bennett, who says Yorkshire art began to rub off on him when he was a student and visited the Leeds City Art Gallery while taking a break from doing his homework at the library next door.
‘Art and Yorkshire: From Turner to Hockney’ is published on April 12 by Great Northern Books at £20. Jane is currently curator of art at the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate, which is hosting a major exhibition to coincide with the launch of Art and Yorkshire.
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