Hull – Ferens Art Gallery

The Ferens Art gallery was opened in 1927 with funding from Thomas Ferens, a wealthy and generous local businessman who operated the manufacturing business of Reckitt and Sons. St. John’s Church was demolished to allow for its construction and it replaced another smaller existing art gallery in the city.

Soon after the Second World War began, the gallery was used to hold an exhibition of Polish artworks that had been saved during the Nazi occupation of Poland. As the threat of air raids increased, the gallery’s contents were then placed into storage throughout the war, although the building remained relatively undamaged. It was though used by the city’s civil defence casualty service during the latter part of the conflict, a rather different usage to what had been intended for the premises.

The Hull Daily Mail published an article in 1938 which referred to a temporary exhibition upstairs at the Ferens, with works loaned from the collection of the late Earl of Lindsey. The newspaper mentioned that “shut away in the long gallery of many an old English country house are paintings of immense artistic value. They come into the public eye only when some picturesque and erudite thief shows a practical resentment of this seclusion”. I liked the quality of this prose, but it’s also a reason why the Ferens came into being in the first place, to try and make art more accessible.

The gallery’s main central atrium. For a provincial art gallery, this is an impressive effort with some paintings by artists that I’ve actually heard of, which is always a bonus. The gallery is also relatively large and there are some temporary exhibitions on, of which the William Wilberforce was particularly interesting. Entrance to the permanent and temporary collections are free of charge, with the gallery being busy, so it all seemed a worthwhile investment for the city.

My other posts about artworks in the gallery:

A View on the Grand Canal by Antonio Canaletto

William Wilberforce by Sir Thomas Lawrence

1791 Debate of Motions Book

The Press Gang by Alexander Johnston

Straitjacket Chairs by Nina Saunders

Julian, the Artist’s Son by Roger Eliot Fry

The Batsman by William Day Keyworth

In the Cinema by Malcolm Drummond

Fun Bag by Victoria Sin