Taking Root: The Sustaining Life of Trees

Inspired by Birmingham 2022 Festival’s theme of Nature, programmed around the Commonwealth Games, this display explores our enduring fascination with trees. As some of the most prominent, appealing and even essential features of a landscape, trees have a distinctive presence in works by a great variety of artists. Artists have studied trees to develop their … Read more

Lovis Corinth (1858 – 1925)

Portrait of Dr Ferdinand Mainzer (1871–1943) Berlin, 1899 Oil on canvas Canvas: 75 x 58 cm; Frame: 94.5 x 76.2 x 10 cm Corinth was a key figure in the development German modernist art, his work a vital bridge between the visual explorations of late nineteenth century Impressionism and the psychological preoccupations of early twentieth-century … Read more

Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641)

Portrait of François Langlois (1589 – 1647) London, probably early 1630s Oil on canvas 97.8 x 80 cm This engaging portrait depicts François Langlois (1589-1647), an engraver, art dealer and publisher, who lived in Florence and Rome in the 1620s, where he presumably met Van Dyck. In 1634 he settled in Paris. He is dressed … Read more

Unrecorded Roman Artist (1st century AD)

Head of a Man Rome, 1st century AD Marble 31.1 x 20.3 x 22.3 cm The development of Roman portraiture is characterised by a stylistic cycle that alternately emphasised realistic or idealising elements. This battered bust (possibly re-carved), with its lifelike wrinkles and folds of skin tempered by classical, regular features, would seem typical of … Read more

Francis Derwent Wood (1871 – 1926)

Profile Bust of Lady Barber (1869 – 1933) England, 1913 Marble 57 x 47 cm This profile bust depicts Lady Martha Constance Hattie Barber, the founder of the Barber Institute. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1914 and again in 1927. Lady Barber and her husband Sir Henry Barber were evidently on friendly … Read more

Francis Derwent Wood (1871 – 1926)

Profile Bust of Sir Henry Barber (1860 – 1927) England, 1914 Plaster 55.8 x 39.4 cm Sir William Henry Barber was the husband of Lady Martha Constance Hattie Barber. Hattie founded the Barber Institute in 1932 in his memory. She died, childless, four months later, leaving the entire Barber fortune to the Trustees of the … Read more

Jean Varin (model) (1607 – 1672), and possibly Hubert le Sueur (about 1580 – 1658) or Henri Perlan (1597 – 1656) (cast)

Bust of Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu (1585 – 1642) Model: Paris, 1641; Cast: Paris, 1643 or later Bronze 69.8 x 68 x 38 cm Richelieu was First Minister under Louis XIII (r.1610-43), and thus an extremely powerful figure in a period when France was becoming the leading nation in Europe. Varin has contrasted … Read more

Cesare Targone (after) (active 1573-85)

The Madonna Mourning the Dead Christ Model: Probably Florence, about 1582-84; Cast: perhaps Milan, probably late 16th century Bronze 28.3 x 26.1 x 1 cm This cast relief is closely based on an exquisite repoussé (hammered) gold relief signed by the Venetian goldsmith Targone (J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu), his only certain work. Another gold … Read more

Giovanni della Robbia (ascribed to) (1469 – 1529/30)

The Virgin and Child with a Bird Florence, Italy, about 1500-06 Terracotta relief, polychromed and glazed 139 x 95 cm This work was originally made for a monastic church in Castellina, near Florence, and is a typical product of the della Robbia family workshop around 1500. This workshop was arguably at its height under the … Read more

Stefano Maderno (about 1576 – 1636)

Hercules and the Nemean Lion Model: Rome, 1621; Variant: perhaps German, possibly 17th or 18th century Wood 33.8 x 30.3 cm Maderno was the leading sculptor in Rome before the emergence of Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). His fine terracotta original of this model is now in Venice. It was much copied in bronze and other media, … Read more

Unrecorded Italian Artist (perhaps 17th century)

The Farnese Bull (The Punishment of Dirce) Model and Cast: Italian, perhaps 17th century (after the antique) Bronze 42.9 x 38 x 36 cm This is one of many small reproductions after a celebrated life-size antique marble group, excavated in Rome in 1545, and placed in the Palazzo Farnese there. In poor condition, the marble … Read more

Francesco Bertos (attributed to) (1678 – 1741)

The Drunken Silenus Model and Cast: Venice, Italy, early 18th century Bronze 24.7 x 22.5 cm This finely detailed bronze has only very recently been recognized as very probably the work of Francesco Bertos, who produced some of the most extraordinary, even eccentric, but virtuosic sculptures of the 18th century. It represents Silenus, the fat … Read more

Unrecorded Italian Artist (possibly late 19th century)

Hercules and a Dragon Possibly Italian, possibly late 19th century Wax and cartapesta (papier mâché) 28.4 cm high This curious sculpture entered the collection, at great cost, as the work of the Florentine Renaissance sculptor Giovanni Francesco Rustici (1475-1554). Recent research has raised suspicions that it is neither by him nor even of his period, … Read more

Unrecorded Italian Artist (16th century)

A Roman Soldier on Horseback Probably North Italian, early 16th century, or later Bronze, with wooden pedestal 26.4 x 25.6 cm The horse, with its hogged mane and dressed forelock, is based on the second of the four celebrated classical Horses of St Mark’s, Venice. These inspired many small copies during the Renaissance, and several … Read more

Unrecorded Italian Artist (19th/20th century)

Bust of a Youth (St John the Baptist?) Florence, late 19th or early 20th century, in the style of about 1500 Terracotta, polychromed 43.1 x 46.4 x 15.5 cm Although probably made considerably later, as a pastiche, this work reflects the popularity for such terracotta busts in Renaissance Florence. It is based on a roundel … Read more