Allegories of Learning and Art
Two seated figures set on thick bases at the corners of the Doric-columned portico roof. The male figure represents Industry and Learning. He holds a book and there is a naked cherub carrying a cog seated at his feet. The right-hand figure represents Art: she holds a quill as if to write, and a cherub offers up a scroll. To her right, a male bust is depicted atop an Ionic capital and a palette rests at her side.
Newcastle solicitor J.A.D. Shipley (?-1909) bequeathed a collection of 2500 paintings to Newcastle on the understanding that the city would build a gallery to house them. The works turned out to be copies rather than genuine old masters and the bequest was rejected by Newcastle council. The collection defaulted to Gateshead in 1912 which built the art gallery in 1914-17, selling half of the works to help pay for it.(1) Designed by Arthur Stockwell in a Neo-classical style, the Shipley Art Gallery is now part of Tyne and Wear Museums Service and its displays concentrate on local manufacturing output and craft-based exhibitions.
These two figures make obvious reference to the Shipley's role as an art gallery and cultural resource. The building is due for extensive renovation and it is expected that the figures will be cleaned as part of this programme.
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