Watford Museum has now digitised its art collection and put it online. You can find the works here, alongside all the information behind each piece of art. Enjoy a digital tour and Watford Museum’s art collection, while staying at home!
To add a bit of fun, Watford Museum are encouraging every aspired artist to express their talent and recreate their favourite piece of art from the collection; then share your recreations on social media, using the hashtag #WatfordMuseumMasterpiece!
Watford Museum has a considerable collection of paintings, most of which were held by Watford Library.
These were largely donated by private collectors or local artists and their families, the first and most significant of these being a bequest in 1930 by Edward Thomas Burr, a long time resident of Watford. This consisted of 47 oil paintings, many of North European origin with the emphasis on the Dutch and Flemish schools. Among the artists represented are Adam Francios van der Meulen, Klases Moleneart, Pieter Neeffs the Elder and Adriaen van Ostade.
Six monumental works were given to Watford Library in 1967 from the collection of Major Armand D Blackley, a Watford magistrate and one-time director of London-based James Bourlet and Sons Ltd, shopper and restorer of paintings. His bequest included paintings by Sir Peter Lely; George Chalmers follower of Gaspard Dughet; Studio of Jean Nattier and the self-portrait attributed to Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-le Brun. Almost identical to the painting in the Uffizi, the Vigee le Brun depicts the artists working at her easel painting a portrait of Marie Antoinette.
Portraits of Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex (1631-1683) and Lady Elizabeth Percy, Countess of Essex (1636-1717) painted by Sir Peter Lely reflect the style of Sir Anthony Van Dyck and the sumptuous portraiture fashionable in the 17th Century. Dating from the early 1700s are the portraits of Lady Mary Bentinck (1697-1726), wife of Algernon, 2nd Earl of Essex and Lady Jane Hyde (c.1694-1724), 1st wife of William, 3rd Earl of Essex attributed to Godfrey Kneller.
Also hanging in the Cassiobury Gallery, Adele by Edward Hughes was given to the Borough of Watford by Lady Peake, daughter of the sitter and was probably painted in 1893, the year of Adele’s marriage to George Devereaux de Vere Capell who was soon to become 7th Earl of Essex.
The collection is still being added to, and one of the most recent additions is that of A View of Cassiobury by John Wootton, bought with a grant from the National Art Collection Fund and generous donations by the people of Watford. It depicts Cassiobury House and the estate, set in a vast landscape with the 5th Earl of Essex, his family, and servants in the foreground.
The oil paintings held at Watford Museum form part of a superb collection of drawings, paintings and sculptures that enhance the local and social history collections and reflect both the Urban and Rural landscapes of Watford.
Watford Museum are encouraging every aspired artist to express their talent and recreate their favourite piece of art from the collection; then share your recreations on social media, using the hashtag #WatfordMuseumMasterpiece!
Here are a few favourites: