Kelvingrove Treasures – 7 January 2020

Elaine Hanson, a former teacher at both Kyle and Belmont Academies, is a volunteer guide at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow. Her main passion is fine art and she came along to the club to give the members the benefit of her evident knowledge of some of her own “treasures of Kelvingrove”.

Elaine with Lynn McWilliam

Elaine began with a short reminder of the early history of the building. Designed by Sir John W Simpson, it opened in 1901 in time for the last International Exhibition to be held in Kelvingrove. The external, red sandstone came from Dumfries and the internal stonework was won from the closer Giffnock quarries. The original art collections came mainly from the McLellan Galleries and from the old Kelvingrove House Museum in Kelvingrove Park.

We were then taken on a time-travel journey through some of the fine art exhibits beginning with the 18th and early 19th century enlightenment period and specific reference to Sir Henry Raeburn’s portrait of Alexander Ranaldson MacDonnell of Glengarry. Then on to the 19th century proper and the popularity of “The Glasgow Boys” where Elaine cited examples of works by Guthrie, Henry and Hornel amongst others. After that, via respectful acknowledgement of Charles Rennie MacIntosh (the most important of Glasgow’s artists according to Elaine), it was on to “The Scottish Colourists” such as Peploe before looking at 20th century women artists such as Joan Eardly and Avril Paton. Then we were shown wonderful examples of art from abroad including Lowry’s VE Day and Glasgow’s most important painting, Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, acquired in 1952 for £8,200 and now worth an estimated £60M.

Elaine finished with discussion of two of her treasured objects; an 1890 St Kilda mailboat (used to sail mail hopefully to the mainland Hebrides) and the gallery’s dominating, suspended 1944 Spitfire.

Louden McAndrew thanked Elaine for her most excellent talk and promised to seek the services of a knowledgeable guide such as Elaine for his next visit to the gallery.