Portrait by Wisbech-born Octavia Hill to be displayed at John Ruskin exhibition in London
A copy of a celebrated portrait painted by Wisbech-born Octavia Hill is being displayed in a new John Ruskin exhibition in London to mark the bicentenary of his birth.
The show, ‘John Ruskin: the power of seeing’, marks the first time that Ruskin’s collection has been shown outside Sheffield.
Ruskin trained Octavia Hill as a copyist from 1855 to 1865 where she visited the National Gallery or Dulwich Art Gallery daily.
The portrait in the exhibition is Octavia Hill’s copy of a painting by the Renaissance artist, Giovanni Bellini, of the steely-eyed tactician, ‘The doge Leonardo Loredan’ - one of the chief magistrates and leaders of the Republic of Venice during the 1000-year history of the city-state.
Bellini’s original 1501 portrait showing the doge in his official state robes with ornate buttons and horn-shaped ducal cap hangs in the National Gallery.
Octavia’s copy forms part of the Guild of St George’s Ruskin Collection, which is showcased in the new exhibition curated by Museums Sheffield.
Octavia Hill’s aim was to make ‘lives noble, homes happy and family life good’ and her approach which was made possible by the connection she had established with Ruskin.
Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said: “Once again Octavia Hill’s achievements can be seen as of national and international interest in this major exhibition.
“In our birthplace house displays we have always shown reproductions of the two paintings – Bellini’s original and the copy featured in the exhibition – side by side with a figure of Octavia at work as an artist in a room dedicated to her art.”
‘John Ruskin: the power of seeing’ is an unticketed exhibition at Two Temple Place, formerly known as Astor House, the London mansion of American politician William Waldorf Astor on London’s Victoria Embankment.
The show, which is free of charge, runs from January 26 to April 22 and is open each week on Monday and from Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 4.30pm.
On Wednesdays the doors open from 10am to 9pm and on Sundays visitors are admitted from 11am to 4.30pm. The exhibition is closed on Tuesdays and on Easter Sunday.
The Birthplace House at 7 South Brink, Wisbech, re-opens with a series of events centred on International Women’s Day on Friday March 8.