We are alarmingly close to the end of 2018, meaning it’s the perfect time to look back at the year’s highlights.
2018 had its ups and downs. At the beginning of the year we were all looking up at the lunar eclipse, by spring we were looking intently at the royal wedding, and by summer, England football fans were looking downwards after a defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final. (Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish fans may have been more ebullient at this point!)
In the time-honoured tradition of creating pleasant distractions from an uncertain political climate, here are some beautiful works of art to set your eyes on, all of which joined Art UK this year.
Housed in Manchester Art Gallery is Walter Crane's The Apotheosis of Italian Art. The large-scale watercolour depicts Michelangelo, Dante, Cimabue, Pope Julius II and Raphael among others. They stand between richly adorned arches, each representing an Italian city – Venice, Florence and Rome.
In February, many of us were trying to survive the ‘Beast from the East’, the unexpected blizzard that hit the UK and turned the country into a hellish snowstorm. Meanwhile, Art UK had works added by the McLean Museum and Art Gallery, such as these two splendid works by the Scottish painter Patrick Downie (1854–1945).
In March, the weather warmed up slightly. But then, alas, the blizzard returned. This time it was coined the ‘Mini Beast from the East'. The Beaney in Canterbury added works to Art UK, such as this fine portrait of Lady Susan Bertie, Countess of Kent.
In March and April, we received a plethora of works by Lowry (1887–1976) from The L. S. Lowry Collection. Among the new works added were these intriguing depictions of industrial Salford and Manchester between the 1930s and 1950s.
In May, NASA launched the space probe InSight, which landed safely on Mars in November. However, most people were probably discussing Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. Art UK received a lovely selection of works from The Royal Watercolour Society, as well as new paintings from the City of Edinburgh Council and Swindon Art Gallery.
In June, the weather improved. But Art UK received lots of wonderful, wintry watercolours and works on paper, including this trio from Swindon Art Gallery.
In contrast to the beginning of the year, July witnessed a huge heatwave across North America and Europe, as well as a new-found obsession for Frosé (or is that just us?). Plus an even longer total lunar eclipse took place. Let’s skim over the details. More art!
Apple Inc. became the first $1 trillion company and Art UK added this work by Lowry.
The majority of the population was still in denial that summer was officially over, but these intricately painted still lifes by Adriaen Coorte and Juan de Zurbarán from The National Gallery’s collection joined Art UK.
October came around alarmingly fast and suddenly Christmas decorations were starting to pop up everywhere. We barely had time to mourn summer before the winter blues kicked in and we reluctantly stopped drinking rosé (again – just me?). Meanwhile, we added this exquisite portrait of a young Henry VIII to our website – clearly painted some time before he ate all the pheasant pies.
We also received a vast number of intriguing (and sometimes frightening) images from the Wellcome Collection, some of which feature in our story The nation’s scariest art, part 2: dare you explore the Wellcome Collection?
Here are some highlights.
On a slightly different note, we also added a lithograph by Leslie Cole from Swindon Art Gallery, which featured in a story about a defrocked vicar who was eaten by a lion (no, really!). You'll have to read it to understand...
In November, we commemorated the centenary of the end of the First World War by looking at a number of lithographs made as British propaganda, added from the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.
Perhaps saving the best till last (or perhaps not, depending on your opinion!), we concluded the year with works on paper featured in the exhibition 'Lowry and the Pre-Raphaelites' (which you can read about in more detail) and Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid's exquisite portrait The Tailor from Manchester Art Gallery.
Looking forward to 2019, remember that Art UK is launching its Sculpture Project after Christmas. We will be cataloguing the UK’s national sculpture collection – the first of around 170,000 works from across the nation will start to appear on our website from January 2019. Watch this space!
Lydia Figes, Content Creator at Art UK