You may not be aware of the rivalry between the East of Scotland (Edinburgh) and the West (Glasgow). I won’t tell you what my Glaswegian friend says about the “stuffy” burghers of E___ and I’m sure that it’s no coincidence that the only Glaswegian in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series is a gangster named Lard O’Connor. The cities may only be 40 miles apart but …
Now I live somewhere to the south of the two: 26 miles from Glasgow and 40 from Edinburgh but it struck me that on this blog you hear much more about the latter than the former. In fact, I have already reported on two trips to Edinburgh this year (Here and Here). So, for the next month or so, in the interests of unbiased reporting, Lizzy is going to escort you round her favourite spots in Glasgow.
First stop, the Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery which was opened in 1902. An impressive building and you might be forgiven for expecting a certain stuffiness in its exhibits.
HRH Queen Victoria herself greets you as you turn left into the first exhibition hall. Could that be a touch of the we-are-not-amused around the jowls? Perhaps she’s slightly disapproving of the frivolity and lightheartedness apparent in the heads that float above her …..
That mix of the traditional and the modern signifying much about this museum which has recently undergone a £6 million refurbishment. Its exhibits ranging from stuffed animals to interactive digital displays to keep the kiddies like me (!)interested. I had great fun guessing the identity of the model in Rembrandt’s “A Man In Armour” or even the thoughts of the unhappy couple below.
There’s a fine selection of art at Kelvingrove with galleries devoted to the Dutch Masters, Italian Renaissance and The French Impressionists amongst others. And let’s not forget the mandatory visit to the paintings of the Glasgow Boys and The Scottish Colourists.
On the day I visited Kelvingrove (entry free to the permanent collection) I had a chance to catch an exhibition entitled “Impressionism and Scotland” which traced the influence of the French Impressionists in the late 19th century on The Glasgow Boys and the early 20th century on the Scottish Colourists. For a fiver I enjoyed a fine selection of impressionist masterpieces placed side by side with the Scottish paintings they inspired. Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin placed alongside Lavery, Guthrie, Henry, Cadell, Fergusson, Peploe.
The walls were also decorated with eyecatching statements from contemporaneous critics. Impressionism and, therefore, the Glasgow Boys, not at all admired. Witness the verdict of Sir George Reid, President of the Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh) in 1893:
The so-called impressionists have, unfortunately some followers in Scotland … It is the influence of the modern French school of painting …. I greatly dislike young artists going in for this kind of thing. It is simply an impertinence.
As my Glaswegian friend would say …. stuffy!