City Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, by Charles Barry (1795-1860). 1824-35. Built for the Manchester Institution for the Promotion of Science Literature and the Arts, but donated to the city, with its collections, in 1881. "The building is Grecian, his only public work in this style" (Hartwell 89). Photographs, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2012. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one. Click on the images to produce larger pictures.]
Two of the carved panels on the front elevation. Left: Painting. Right: Sculpture.
Commissioned when Barry was still in his twenties, and considered to be his "first important building" (Turnor 36), the Gallery has an impressive entrance, matched by a colonnaded entrance hall inside. More sculptural adornment had been planned, specifically, a crowning group, and a pediment designed by Richard Westmacott. A frieze was suggested later. But these were never executed (see Wyke 95). Perhaps that is why Reginald Turnor finds the building as it is now "rather dull Greek" (36; emphasis added). But the plain pediment is offset by a series of six carved panels high on the pavilions at each side, the work of John Hennings, Jr. Begun in 1837, these show female figures representing the arts and sciences (painting, architecture, sculpture, wisdom, mathematics and astronomy). All but Wisdom lnclude a rather large cherub-like boy. In Painting, he serves as a subject, in Sculpture, as an assistant, holding some tools.
The gallery now uses Barry's equally or perhaps even more elegant palazzo-style former Athenaeum Club in Manchester for an annexe.
Hartwell, Clare. Manchester. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Penguin, 2001. Print.
Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture. London: Batsford, 1950. Print.
Wyke, Terry, with Harry Cocks. Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004. Print.
Last modified 25 August 2012