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Highlights from the Astley Cheetham Collection

Please click on each heading for more information. Please note that not all paintings are on display in the gallery and the ones highlighted below may not be on display. We change paintings every 6 months so there is always something different to see.

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The Virgin and Child with Angels and Saints
Master of the Straus Madonna
1390 - 1395

the Virgin and  Child with Angels and Saints - Master of the Straus Madonna

This work is very important because the artist chose to include Eve in the same scene as the Virgin Mary. He invented a new way of visually explaining to his contemporaries Eve’s fall from grace and redemption through her link to the Virgin Mary and the Christ child.

The altar piece was painted in Renaissance Italy by an unknown artist, although we now know him under the pseudonym of ‘The Master of the Straus Madonna.
Wealthy Victorian industrialist John Frederick Cheetham acquired the work for his growing art collection in the late 19th century.

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Ashton-under-Lyne: Industrial Panorama
C H Mitchell

Ashton-under-Lyne Industrial Panorama

This is a panoramic view of Ashton-under-Lyne in 1852

The artist stood beyond the River Tame looking towards industrialised Ashton. In the top left corner is St Peter’s Church, in the middle is Portland Basin with its recognisable three gables and to the right is Ashton Town Hall.

This is a representation of how Ashton looked in 1852. The artist is keen to show how built up Ashton has become as industry became more and more important to the area.

To contrast the built up Ashton with its mills and even steam train the artist has chosen to depict the rural land in the foreground.

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Sir Perceval
George Frederick Watts
1840 - 1859

Sir Perceval by George Frederick Watts

This is a painting of Sir Perceval by George Frederick Watts.

Sir Perceval is part of the Arthurian legends. Many stories exist of his birth, but generally it was believed that he was of noble descent. Upon his father’s death his mother brought him into the forest.

Here he was raised unaware of the rest of the world. But when he turns fifteen, he sees a group of knights travel through the forest. He is so captivated by their armour and elegant horses that he decides to join the knights. After proving his fighting skills he is invited to join King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, where he starts the search for the holy grail.

Watts was a highly successful and important British artist. He is best known for his mysterious and symbolic paintings which hint at life’s great questions of life and death.

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Aske Hall
Joseph Mallord William Turner
1820 - 1850

Aske Hall - Joseph Mallord William Turner

This is a watercolour of Aske Hall by JMW Turner.

In the background perched upon the hill is Aske Hall; the historical home of the de Aske family in North Yorkshire. In the foreground are several sheep resting under the panoply of trees which frame the picturesque watercolour.
The watercolour was presented to Astley Cheetham Art Collection by the National Art Collections Fund. JMW Turner is an internationally renowned artist and the watercolour is therefore considered an important artwork in the Astley Cheetham Art Collection.

JWM Turner was born in 1775. To his contemporaries Turner was very radical because he championed landscape painting as equal to the accepted history painting as the pinnacle of art.

He is today known to be the eminent proponent of British Romantic landscape painting, as ‘the painter of light’ he is often considered the trailblazer for the much later Impressionism movement and even a forerunner of abstract art. He passed away in 1851.

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Portrait of a Lady 
John Astley
1739 - 1789

Portrait of a Lady - John Astley

This is an oil painting of an unknown lady by the society portrait artist John Astley.

We don’t know where the painting was painted or who the sitter is but we do know the portrait is painted by the fashionable beau and extravagant artist John Astley.

John Astley was the great grandfather to the wife of the Astley Cheetham Art Collection’s founder John Frederick Cheetham. Astley was also a generous benefactor of his local community in Dukinfield despite his reputation as a spendthrift landowner.

John Astley was a moderately successful portrait painter in London. But he gained more success through his personality; marrying the widowed Lady Penelope Dukinfield Daniell of Dukinfield Lodge after one week’s courtship.

Upon her death he returned to London where he developed a famous reputation as a beau and interior designer of great houses. Living expensively he luckily inherited his stepdaughter’s estate in 1771. Finding London too expensive he returned and built Dukinfield Lodge in 1775 decorating it with old masters and portraits painted by him.

John Astley was a benefactor of his local community and established an iron foundry near Dukinfield. He is also the great grandfather of Emma Beatrice Astley who married John Frederick Cheetham, the donor of the Astley Cheetham building and the Astley Cheetham Art Collection.

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Herbert C Ponting

Vida - Photograph of Captain Robert Scott's sledge dog Vida

This is a photograph of Captain Robert Scott’s sledge dog Vida from his fateful British Antarctic Expedition 1911-1913.

The photograph was taken by the official photographer Herbert C. Ponting on Scott’s attempt to reach the South Pole before the Norwegian Roald Amundsen.
Scott didn’t beat Amundsen to the Pole and he and some of his men sadly died before returning to their ship Terra Nova.

Vida struggled with his bad coat and used to snuggle up to Scott who commented in his diary: “He is a strange beast – I imagine so unused to kindness that it took him time to appreciate it”.

The photograph documents Scott’s final voyage and is therefore an important historical document of Britain’s Polar explorations.
It is also important to Tameside as it was the local manufacturers Keynon and Sons who supplied the ropes for the expedition.

This is one of three photographs presented to the firm after the return Scott’s ship Terra Nova.

The photographs were given to Tameside Museums and Galleries Service by the company.

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Babbacombe Bay
George Price Boyce

Babbacombe Bay - George Price Boyce

This is a watercolour of a beach scene of Babbacombe Bay in Devon.

It is painted in vibrant colours and incredible detail; from the pebbles to the picnic ware in the foreground. Boyce brings the stunning scenery alive and into scale by placing three women in the middle-ground – two are tending the smouldering bonfire with its blue smoke and melting into the background whilst the third woman is sitting higher up on the beach looking out to sea.

This watercolour is considered an excellent example of Pre-Raphaelite landscape painting due to Boyce’s usage of vibrant colours and details. Because of its importance the watercolour is frequently touring nationally and internationally. George Price Boyce (1826-1897)

George Price Boyce was born in London, the son of a successful wine merchant. Having private means he trained as an architect and studied at the School of Architecture at the Royal Academy. Encouraged by the landscape painter David Cox, he began painting landscapes.

From his architectural background he paid great attention to detail. Contemporary commentators viewed his style as eccentric and unusual. He belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite School of artists which concentrated on detailed and highly coloured paintings.

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The Yellow Lady – Lorna Beadle
Raymond Ray-Jones
Circa 1922

The Yellow Lady - Lorna Beadle by Raymond Ray-Jones

This is a painting of a society lady named Lorna Beadle.

She is wearing a striking yellow silk evening gown embellished with beads and a diamanté brooch. In her hands she is holding a white lace fan. She is sitting in a chair with a pashmina draped over the arm rest, her legs are crossed and she is looking directly at the viewer.

The painting belonged to Raymond Ray-Jones himself and was presented to Astley Cheetham Art Gallery by his son at the first retrospective of the Ashton born artist.

Lorna Beadle hangs permanently behind the desk at Astley Cheetham Art Gallery where she continues to fascinate and charm visitors with her composed expression and attentive eyes.

Ashton born Ray-Jones is little known now but he won great acclaim during his lifetime. Sadly the First World War had a detrimental effect on his health and he struggled with depression until finally ending his life in 1942.

Raymond Ray-Jones was born at 81 Uxbridge Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, on 31 August 1886. As a teenager he ran away to Birmingham to see an art exhibition, returning dishevelled a few days later. His parents finally relented and let him study art.

He studied art first at the Hegginbottom School of Art (formerly Central Library and Art Gallery), then at the Royal Academy and finally at the Académie Julian in Paris.
He won numerous awards during his lifetime and has work in many public collections.

Lorna Beadle was, together with Effie Pearce (who later married Raymond Ray Jones) a ‘day girl’ at a boys’ boarding school, Merton Court, in Sidcup, run by Effie’s father J.W.E. Pearce. The painting of Lorna dates from not earlier than 1922 and was possibly prepared for a competition. Lorna married Alan Lang Brown who is described as being a ‘Senior Scientific Officer, Admiralty’ but further investigations indicates that he was a Section Leader in Military Intelligence (M.I.6) both during and after the Second World War.

Lorna had two children, Catherine and James. She may well have been a ‘Society Lady’ – her brother Sir Gerald Clayton Beadle was Director of BBC Television and was instrumental in establishing the BBC Television Centre in London. During the war, Lorna and the children were evacuated to Canada.

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Please note that not all paintings are on display. Please check before you visit.