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What is the Legacy of the Bristol School of Artists? Panel discussion

Festival of the Future City
William James Müller's Bristol Riots: The Burning of Queen Square: the Custom House

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Our panellists discuss the significance of the Bristol School of Artists and its continuing impact.

On show until 17 October 2021 in the Museum of Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux is the exhibition Absolutely Bizarre! Les drôles d’histoires de l’école de Bristol (1800-1840) (Strange tales from the Bristol School of Artists). It tells the remarkable story of a group of artists and their images of Bristol and its local surroundings.

The Bristol School was an informal group that was active in the early nineteenth century. The artists regularly went on sketching excursions together, including to the Avon Gorge and Leigh Woods. In the early days, most of the artists were amateurs but some developed successful professional careers and achieved national fame.

The Bristol School explored and revived a wide range of genres: paintings of city life seen through the prism of the social transformations of the time; landscapes, inventing a highly original form of idyllic and suburban views; and fantastic art, tackled with a hitherto unseen passion. From 1800 to 1840, Bristol was a breeding ground for high-value talent who, in the case of some, would earn a reputation as far as London, influencing the development of artistic creativity in the capital. Artists included Edward Bird (1772-1819), Francis Danby (1793-1861), Edward Villiers Rippingille (1798-1859), Samuel Colman (1780-1845), Samuel Jackson (1794-1869), Rolinda Sharples (1793-1838) – who enjoyed a brilliant career and, unusually for the times, earned a living from her craft – and William James Müller (1812-1845), who produced a gripping painting recording the riots that erupted in Bristol in 1831 (pictured above).

Sandra Buratti-Hasan, deputy director of Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts, conservator of the 19th and 20th century Collections, joins Jenny Gaschke, Curator of European Art pre-1900, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, to talk about the Bristol School and its legacy.

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Sandra Buratti Hasan

Sandra Buratti-Hasan is Deputy Director of the musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux and Curator of the 19th and 20th century collections. She is one of the co-curators of two exhibitions of British Art in Bordeaux: British Stories, conversations between the musée du Louvre and the musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, and Absolutely Bizarre!: Strange Tales of the Bristol School of Artists (1810-1840) produced in partnership with the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. She is working on the catalogue of the musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux British collections. She has curated various exhibitions (Bacchanales modernes! (Bordeaux, Ajaccio, 2016); La Nature silencieuse, Paysages d’Odilon Redon (Bordeaux, Quimper 2017)…) and is preparing a retrospective of the work of Rosa Bonheur for 2022 with the musée d’Orsay.

Jenny Gaschke

Jenny Gaschke is Curator of European Art pre-1900 at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. She studied Art History, Archaeology and English Literature in Freiburg, Glasgow and Berlin and previously worked as assistant curator at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (2003-05). From 2005 until 2012 she worked at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, first as Curator of Prints and Drawings and then as Curator of Art. Her specialisms are European landscape painting 1600–1900 and the Bristol School. She has curated exhibitions including Turmoil and Tranquillity: the Sea Through the Eyes of Dutch and Flemish Masters, on William Hogarth and early watercolours by J M W Turner. She has published catalogues, monographs and articles on a wide range of subjects such as art and travel, Edward Lear in Egypt and the Bristol School’s attitude to nature.

William James Müller, Bristol Riots: The Burning of Queen Square: the Custom House, 1831, oil on paper. credit: BristolCulture, object number M4107.

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Festival of the Future City

Festival of the Future City takes place every two years in Bristol. This year – due to the pandemic – the festival brings together live on-stage, live online and pre-recorded events. Check the project page for details and follow #FutureCity21 on Twitter.

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