A small exhibition, Muse, drew together a select group of works that reflect the source of artistic inspiration be it an individual, a character from literature or a group.
Central to the show was a large and important work by Sir William Quiller Orchardson of Ophelia. Painted in his singular way, this artist who was so greatly admired by Degas, reveals his Shakespearean subject by presenting her psychological state of mind, second to her physical beauty. Its loose, painterly style and mournful characterisation of Ophelia was greatly criticised at the time of its exhibition in 1874. A similar prejudice was encountered in the critical reception of John Everett Millais’s Ophelia, which also challenged critics to re-examine their expectations for the depiction of such a famous literary heroine.
Also, included in the show was an Eardley portrait of two Samson children. For many years, they were her subject and her fascination.
John Byrne’s muse has often been his own image: as with many muse, it is the examination of the self that keeps the artist returning. The search for an answer.
Also included are William Fettes Douglas, Thomas Faed, William Caldwell Crawford, William O. Hutchison and John Boyd.