I'm seeking out watercolours of the golden age of English art (1770-1840). Yesterday, I visited the Bentlif Art Gallery in Maidstone which has a fine British watercolour collection (in store). Sadly, there is not a single watercolour on show. There are two reasons for this. First, watercolours do not fare well in light. Second, most visitors tend to prefer the brightness of oils. Nevertheless, watercolours contain our history and buildings. They also show our long-lost pastoral way of life. I am now contacting the curator for a list of the watercolours that this gallery holds.
Regional museums and art galleries are often housed in beautiful buildings. Maidstone's is no exception. In the heart of this bland, administrative county town of Kent, stands an ancient 16th century house, Chillington Manor, one of the largest museums in South East England. This building contains The Bentlif Gallery. The Bentlif Gallery is now just one room, filled with the works of the Goodwin family (artists from Maidstone), as well as the works of other minor British artists. Sadly, there is no real focus on Kent. Featured artists are:
Harry Goodwin (slide show) was a native painter of Maidstone. His view of a wet main Market Place, Norwich would have been well known to my own East Anglian ancestors.
|The work by Sofonisba Anguissola in Maidstone|
|16th century Chillington Manor, Maidstone|
Arthur Boyd Houghton (slide show) whose oil of Pegwell Bay is on show in Maidstone. He conjures up the clothes of bucolic street life in 19th century England.
David Shepherd (b1941) (slide show) a modern painter whose has a strong interest in modern technology such as ships and planes and also wildlife. Below, in the Bentlif Gallery, he captures modern pastoral Kent, without its vanished peasants. He currently runs a wildlife conservation charity championing conservation projects across the globe, partly using his art to raise funds.
|Kent scene by David Shepherd|
|Her painting is in the background in this room in the Museum|