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Guildford Borough Council : Georgian Women, Portraits by John Russell, Pastel Painter to George III

Guildford Borough Council : Georgian Women, Portraits by John Russell, Pastel Painter to George III

We celebrate the re-opening of the galleries at Guildford House with two exhibitions. ‘Georgian Women, Portraits by John Russell’ is open from 16 July until 8 October 2022. It dedicates itself to the work of local resident and Royal Academician John Russell (1745 – 1806). Alongside this, ‘Fifty Years of Friendship’ showcases a selection of artwork. It includes art acquired with support from ‘The Friends of Guildford House’. This is open from 21 July until 8 October.

John Russell was one of the leading portrait painters of his time. His art features images of people from all walks of life. Our exhibition focuses on the portraits Russell painted of women and girls. It presents women and girls as wives, mothers, and daughters. It also depicts female roles in the context of the time.

This exhibition is an outcome of an Understanding British Portraits Fellowship. This was supported by two organisations; Understanding British Portraits and Arts Council England

Councillor John Redpath, Lead Councillor for Economy said: “This display allows us to enjoy the skill of one of Britain’s most successful 18th century artists. John Russell was also a Guildford resident. As such, it is only right that we have the largest collection of John Russell portraits in the UK. The display gives us the chance to share Russell’s female subjects with our visitors. Portraits of females make up almost half of our John Russell collection. It compels us to consider his depiction of girls and women. Are they stereotypical, or does their true character shine through? We’ll leave it to you to decide!

“Our gallery aims to offer new insights and experiences. Georgian Women is no exception. Activities for adults and children give the perfect way to introduce you to our gallery.”

Family tours of our Georgian Women exhibition combined with a craft activity are available. Find out about the women and children in the paintings, and make a flower-scented bath bag.

· Tuesday 2 August 11am to midday

· Friday 19 August 11am to midday

Coffee Time Talk tours of the exhibition for adults are also available:

· Thursday 4 August 10am

· Thursday 11 August 10am 

Please contact us to book for all activities. Email heritageservices@guildford.gov.uk or phone 01483 444751.

Guildford House dates from 1660. An architectural gem, we opened this Grade I listed building as an art gallery in 1959. It has remained as an art gallery for the town ever since.

The Friends of Guildford House have worked to support the exhibitions at our gallery. They have been pivotal in purchasing important pieces for our Borough Art Collection. Portraits by John Russell are important acquisitions. Through their work, The Friends have helped this collection reach national significance.

Councillor John Redpath added: “This is another exciting experience, for our residents and visitors. We are so lucky to have the enthusiastic support and funds The Friends contribute. The Friends have been supporting us for over 50 years. Featuring the art they have helped us collect is a fantastic way to re-open this much loved space.

“Both of our new displays celebrate our joint achievements with the The Friends. They have worked hard to build and care for our art collection at Guildford House. We are proud that our local residents cherish the gallery and that it’s respected at a national level.”

Guildford House Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4.30pm (last entry to galleries 4pm).