Art is central to The Fife Arms experience; in keeping with its Victoriana-style, the moment that you step inside, the hotel presents an eclectic collection of artworks comprising pieces from the 19th century to the present day.
The Art Collection in The Fife Arms
H.M Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)
A stag shot by John Brown, 6 October, 1874 pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of white, on paper watermark J.Whatman/ Turkey Mill/18 ~ 25.4 x 19 cm ~ Reception
H.M. Queen Victoria was a proficient and studious amateur artist, beginning drawing lessons from the age of eight. She initially copied drawings, as instructed by her tutor, but she soon started to sketch not only the various members of the Household at Kensington Palace and visiting relations, but the scenery and locations that she observed on annual holidays away from London. What had begun as a childhood amusement became a source of lifelong pleasure which she was later able to share with Prince Albert, who also took pleasure in drawing. Sketching became a favourite occupation, particularly on the royal couple’s summer visits to the Highlands of Scotland.
Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Woman Seated in an Armchair) 1953 Oil on panel 99.5cm x 80.5cm / 39 1/8 x 31 ¾ inches (unframed)
Pablo Picasso’s ‘Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Woman seated in an armchair)’, painted on March 5, 1953, takes Françoise Gilot as its subject. The artists began a romantic relationship in 1946, when Françoise, forty years Picasso’s junior, was already a respected member of the School of Paris. This striking portrait dates from the final months of their relationship. While Picasso had once stated that he painted women in armchairs in order to ‘protect them’, ‘Femme assise dans un fauteuil’ depicts a woman who needs no protection. She is in control, her form dominating the wicker chair with her hands folded confidently. ‘Femme assise dans un fauteuil’ is a masterpiece of Picasso’s cubist style, combining multiple viewpoints and possible readings within its powerful, fractured imagery.
Mark Bradford & Robert Glasper
Apollo/Still Shining, 2015 Steinway Spirio player piano programmed with Robert Glasper’s score, ‘Still Shining’, mixed media 101.6 x 146.6 x 170.1 cm (closed) 175.2 x 146.6 x 170.1 cm (open) Reception
Mark Bradford is a Los Angeles based artist. ‘Apollo/Still Shining’, was a collaboration with the piano maker Steinway & Sons and the composer Robert Glasper. Bradford used bleach and translucent squares of paper, used to wrap hair when getting a permanent curl treatment on the surface of the piano. Burning and bleaching the papers he collaged them onto the surface to give the piano a flaming appearance. Bradford explained, ‘My use of paper and bleach in the work originates from my time working as a hairdresser at my mother’s salon in Leimert Park, Los Angeles […] Here, I am interested in the pattern of flux created by this bleaching effect.
Robert Burns’ Chimney-Piece
Removed From Montrave House, Leven, Fife Attributed To Gerrard Robinson, Newcastle Carved overall with depictions of various scenes from the work of Robert Burns, 19th Century 300 x 65 x 362 cm, internal aperture 125cm wide, 125cm high ~ Reception
The chimney-piece was purchased by Sir John Gilmour, 1st Baronet DL (1845-1920) of Montrave House, Leven, Fife. By family tradition, it was thought to have been carved in Newcastle or Northumberland. It was later attributed to Gerrard Robinson after the appearance of a photograph of it in The Sunday Post newspaper on 22nd January 1995. This monumental chimney-piece depicts various scenes from the works of Robert Burns.
Martin Creed (b. 1968)
Work No. 1094, 2011 Photographic print Edition of 3 + 1 AP 163.5 x 298.5 cm ~ Corridor leading to library
Martin Creed is an acclaimed UK contemporary artist and 2001 Turner Prize winner. Creed works in an array of media including sculpture, painting, installation, choreography, and music. Questioning the definition of art with a playful, deadpan and logical approach to conceptual minimalism. Creed favours opposites. Work No. 1094 features an Irish Wolfhound and Chihuahua – opposites indeed. Creed found a wonderful humour in the pair, describing them as ‘a perfect sculpture’. For the artist the two dogs represented ‘thinking’ the small dog and ‘not thinking’ the large dog.
Circle Of Pieter Brueghel The Younger (1564 – 1636)
A grand village kermesse with a performance of the farce Een Cluyte Van Plaeyerwater (‘A Clod From A Plaeyerwater’) and a religious procession Oil on canvas ~ 153.5 x 286.5 cm ~ The Clunie Dining Room
Pieter Brueghel the Younger was a Flemish painter known for his depictions of peasant life in rural settings. Like his father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the artist painted compositions filled with details that often included multiple narratives happening simultaneously. Suffering financial difficulties throughout his career, the artist often made inexpensive copies of his father’s paintings to support himself. Despite this, he was admired by his peers which included Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens. ‘A Village Kermesse With A Performance Of The Farce Een Cluyte Van Plaeyerwater (‘A Clod From A Plaeyerwater’), And A Religious Procession’ depicts at its centre villagers gathering around a makeshift theatre to watch the denouement of the farce, when the cuckolded husband reveals himself to his unfaithful wife and her lover, the local priest.
Archibald Thorburn (1860 – 1935)
Blackgame in the glen, 1911 pencil and watercolour heightened with bodycolour and touches of gum arabic on paper laid on board ~ 76.3 x 55.3 cm ~ The Snug / Various other examples throughout The Fife Arms
Archibald Thorburn was arguably the finest bird painter which Britain has ever produced. He was the fifth son of Robert Thorburn, a leading miniature painter of the day. Thorburn received much of his early training from his father, whose insistence upon anatomical accuracy and careful attention to detail stood him in good stead.
Man Ray (1890 – 1976)
Elsa Schiaparelli, 1931 Gelatin silver print mounted on cardboard ~ Elsa‘s
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky, Man Ray adopted his pseudonym in 1909 and would become one of the key figures of Dada and Surrealism. Man Ray’s photographic works are considered his most profound achievement, particularly his portraits, fashion photographs, and technical experiments with the medium, such as solarization and rayographs. ‘I do not photograph nature,’ he once said. ‘I photograph my visions.’ The series of photographs displayed in Elsa’s Cocktail Bar portray the bar’s namesake, Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose bravado and unrestrained originality was influenced by her friendships with Surrealist artists of the period, most notably Salvador Dali. The photographs were taken by Man Ray when Elsa was first beginning to become well known in Paris as a trail-blazing couturier, with Man Ray turning her into an advertisement for her own designs.
Louise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010)
Untiled 2005 Fabric 45.7 x 35.6 cm / 18 x 14 inches Verso, stitched in red: ‘LB’
French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is one of the most influential figures in contemporary art. She worked across a wide range of creative disciplines: from drawing and painting to sculpture and textiles, with her subjects drawing on deep psychological themes such as fantasy, memory, sexuality and fear. Her remarkable career spanned seven decades, from the 1930s to her death in 2010, at the age of 99. The rich materiality of fibre and cloth was to be a source of lifelong inspiration for Bourgeois: from her childhood exposure to weaving and tapestry (both parents were tapestry weavers and restorers) to her compulsive hoarding of clothes and domestic linens throughout her adult life. These unique textile works, at once personal landscapes and personal portraits – provide a powerful insight into the artist’s desire to represent and repair her lived experience.
Hans Bellmer (1902 – 1975)
Nous la suivons à pas lents (We Follow Her with Slow Steps), 1937 (printed 1963) Hand-coloured gelatin silver print mounted on original masonite Unique variant ~ 148 x 100 cm ~ Elsa‘s
Hans Bellmer was a German Surrealist artist. He created an emotional, intellectual and erotically charged body of work. Bellmer is best known for a series of photographs of two life-sized adolescent female dolls which he constructed and photographed between 1934 and 1938. Bellmer’s ‘Nous la suivons à pas lents (We Follow Her with Slow Steps)’ is a black-and-white photograph, with delicate hand coloured hues of pale yellow/green and pink.
Lucian Freud (1922 – 2011)
Red Haired Man – Portrait II by Lucian Freud (1962) Oil on canvas, 91.4cm x 41.1cm / 38 x 26 inches (unframed)
Hanging above the sofa in the lobby is a work by one of the foremost artists of the 20th century, Lucian Freud. Freud was born in Berlin, the grandson of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, but grew up in England after his family fled from Nazi Germany to Britain in the 1930’s. Freud is best known for his portraits (including many self-portraits), which have an intensity and directness to them. He worked in a realist and highly expressive style, using layers of paint and visible brushstrokes to render the tones of the sitter’s flesh. Alongside his own unflinching self-portraits, Freud painted characters from all walks of life – including fellow artists, the criminal underworld, the aristocracy, drag queens and several of his 14 children. This portrait is of artist Tim Behrens, who in the 1960s along with Freud and Francis Bacon, was part of a bohemian and intellectual circle known as the ‘School of London.’
Keith Tyson (b. 1969)
Still Life with Stars and Antlers (2020) Oil on aluminium, 244cm x 187.7cm 96 1/8 x 73 7/8 inches (unframed)
Keith Tyson is a British artist who incorporates systems of logic, scientific methodology and the phenomenon of chance into his work. He actively resists developing a singular style, preferring to embrace a diversity of stylistic and thematic influences ranging from poetry and mathematics, to history and computer coding. Seeing the world essentially as a vast source of interconnecting elements, Tyson’s imagery draws repeatedly from complexity of contemporary culture and society, art history and the artist’s direct experience of the world around him to create multi-layered and highly visual works with their own distinct beauty.