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Posts tagged with 'exhibition'

Dragons in China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors

16 June 2018 by Joe

This weekend marks the Chinese holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival, an ancient celebration where boats are decorated in the form of dragons and raced in towns and cities across the country. To commemorate the festivities, we are exploring some of the dragon-themed objects on display in our landmark exhibition, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.

Read more…

Whistler’s beehive watermarks

15 June 2018 by Alex Patterson

Keith our paper conservator working on the Whistler etchings before display

For a curator the best part of any exhibition, is the first time you properly look at the objects. This is a time when you can make discoveries and investigate objects beyond their normal scope. When I first began work on the Whistler & Pennell: Etching the City exhibition, Keith our paper conservator analysed the condition of the prints. In doing so, he noticed a wonderful watermark on the paper used for James McNeill Whistler’s prints (1834-1903). It is a beautiful design with a central beehive motif surrounded by ornate scrollwork of leaves and flowers crowned with a fruit tree. It also shows the initials DEDB. I immediately wanted to learn more about where this paper came from and why it was used for Whistler’s prints so I could include it in the exhibition and share it with our visitors. This is what I found!

Drawn illustration of the De Erven de Blauw ‘beehive’ watermark from National Gallery of Australia

Apparently Whistler was very selective about what paper was used for his etchings. This wasn’t at all unusual; the etching revival had instigated a new interest in the aesthetic tone and structure of paper. Modern paper made in the early 19th century could be highly acidic and appear bright white after the introduction of wood pulp and chlorine bleaches into the paper-making process. Laid paper was also gradually replaced with wove paper which had a more even surface. Whistler, and indeed most printers, refused to use such paper as it affected the overall tone and aesthetic of the work. The modern paper created too much of a contrast between the inks and the white background. Also wove paper did not hold the ink in the same way as laid paper.

Following Rembrandt’s example, Whistler like most etchers’ and printers preferred to use ‘Old Dutch’ or silky Japanese paper. Throughout his life Whistler constantly searched stationers and old book shops looking for it, as large quantities could still be found in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Made from boiled and beaten rags, drained on wire moulds, ‘Old Dutch’ paper was high quality with a ribbed texture and creamy in colour. Japanese paper was alternatively made from the bark of a mulberry tree; it could vary in thickness and tone from pale cream to a pronounced yellow. These types of paper could be identified by their unique watermark.

Limeburner, etching by JM Whistler from the Lady Lever Art Gallery exhibition with watermark

A watermark is design or motif that is caused by thickness variations created by the wire mould when shaping the paper. The ‘beehive’ watermark that we found on Whistler’s print’s, shown in transmitted light, is not the mark of ‘Old Dutch’ papermakers as I originally thought, but it can be traced to Holland.

The ‘beehive’ watermark is associated with the Honig (honey) family of Dutch papermakers who owned mills in Zaandijk, North Holland. The coat of arms was widely copied throughout the Netherlands and came to represent Dutch papermaking more generally. Whistler’s ‘beehive’ watermark is a variation belonging to the De Erven de Blauw papermakers from the 1820s, which explains the initials DEDB within the design (there were alternate versions of the De Erven de Blauw watermark also shown)

Alternative beehive watermark from Whistler’s portrait of Sculptor, J Becquet.

We would have never known that these watermarks existed on the Walker Art gallery’s prints before as they are not visible under normal lighting conditions, it was crucial to photograph our findings through transmitted light to document the work. This research and photographs of all the prints which contain the watermark are permanently available for everyone to view on Watermark, our online collection of works on paper.

 

Remember Love at Double Fantasy

31 May 2018 by Laura

Visitor in exhibition

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko at Museum of Liverpool until 22 April 2019

We are thrilled to have welcomed more than 20,000 visitors already to our latest exhibition Double Fantasy – John & Yoko, which has now been open for two weeks. Read more…

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko opens to the public

18 May 2018 by Laura

Yoko and Sean

Yoko and Sean Ono Lennon open ‘Double Fantasy – John & Yoko’ on Thursday 17 May 2018. Image © Gareth Jones

We are still recovering from a night at Museum of Liverpool we will remember forever! We were so honoured to have Yoko and Sean Ono Lennon for the opening of the exhibition, Double Fantasy – John & Yoko. Read more…

The Shape of Water

14 May 2018 by Ann Bukantas

Water presents artists with a restless, ever-changing technical challenge. As representations of H2O go, there are some undisputed masterpieces in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection, including Monet’s Breaking up of the ice on the Seine, near Bennecourt, Courbet’s Low Tide at Trouville and Sickert’s The Bathers, Dieppe. Water even provides the backdrop to Fournier’s sombre ‘The Funeral of Shelley’, which is set on a beach – all very fitting, given that the poet drowned at sea in 1822.

Fournier’s ‘The Funeral of Shelley’

With the wet stuff in mind, there is a surprising amount of water too in the Walker’s current display of John Moores Painting Prize first prize winners, which we are celebrating as part of the 60th anniversary of the Prize.

Read more…

From New York to London via Port Sunlight

2 May 2018 by Ann

A first glimpse of the exhibition

We’re preparing to bring a little bit of city life to Port Sunlight  and the Lady Lever Art Gallery this week as we countdown to the opening of our spring exhibition Whistler & Pennell: Etching the city on Friday 4 May.

Profiling the work of American artists; James McNeill Whistler and Joseph Pennell who made London their home, the exhibition reveals their passion, innovation and influence upon an artistic technique that at the time was in decline.

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Museum Dance Off – we need your votes!

18 April 2018 by Matt

Face in cut out

Museum of Liverpool’s Museum Dance Off entry 2018 was inspired by exhibition, Tales from the city.

The education team at the Museum of Liverpool have always held a secret talent for dance (honest!). Read more…

Memories of Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind

11 April 2018 by Laura

Fingers on braille

Braille plan of the Liverpool Blind School

With the exhibition The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places drawing to a close this week, History of Place Project Coordinator, Kerry  Massheder-Rigby tells us more about the next stage of the project:

“We are keen to capture additional first-hand memories of what life was like for students who attended the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, the first of its kind in Britain when founded in 1791. Read more…

The Qin terracotta warriors: a stunning discovery

29 March 2018 by Joe

On the anniversary of the discovery of the Terracotta Warriors in 1974, Senior Archaeologist Janice Li reveals more about the groundbreaking discoveries that followed:
Read more…

Double Fantasy John & Yoko

20 March 2018 by Laura

John and Yoko

Photo by Keith McMillan (c) Yoko Ono

On what would have been the couple’s 49th wedding anniversary we are very proud to announce a major new exhibition, telling the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon’s profound personal and creative chemistry at the Museum of Liverpool. Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.