Hats Off to York!
We’ve recently come back from a few days away in York. Whilst there, I popped into the city Art Gallery where along with the ceramics, illustrations (wonderful small collection from children’s books) and paintings, there was an exhibition simply called ‘Hats’. The exhibition which runs from to 18th September 2010 – 23rd January 2011 tracks the way that hats have been used in social etiquette and trends during the last 400 years.
Jennifer Alexander, assistant curator of fine art, said:
“We have a wonderful collection of paintings from the last 400 years and many show how styles and fashions have changed. From baker hats to bonnets to bowlers, all hats say something about the person wearing it, whether it is their job, their social class or their era.
The hats are delightful and some of the fabrics still in very good condition, the intricate decorations including a dead birds head are fascinating. But what struck me the most is the size of the hats. Why are our heads bigger now? The skulls seem tiny compared to our present day ones. I love hats and have been known to wear a few in my time – after all they can add a good few inches to the shorter person which I think is always a good thing where I’m concerned:-)
Around the walls of the exhibition are paintings of the hats in their context. Barbara Hepworth‘s oil and graphite on gesso prepared paper was an unexpected find.
York painter William Etty (1787-1849) The Missionary Boy was also on display, unfortunately I couldn’t find an image of it to display here. Etty was one of the few artists to become successful at large history paintings. He liked to paint nudes, portraits and later, landscapes. here’s an example of his work.
English artist Spencer Gore (1878- 1914) was a Founder member of the Fitzroy Street group and was involved with the formation of the Camden Town Group. He came into contact with Pissarro whose impressionistic style he adapted. Walter Sickert was another great friend and influence upon his art. Spencer Gore is an interesting artist in his own right and I shall be writing more about him soon.
Along with Roger Bissiere‘s Woman in a Straw Hat, other paintings include French artist Jacques Emile Blanche (1861-1942) whose painting ‘Knightsbridge to Sloane Square’ painted in 1908/9 shows everyone from children to Policeman behatted. Only the beggars remain bare-headed.
More about York Gallery and the exhibitions here