Our staff have chosen their favourite snowy landscapes and Christmas scenes from the collections of the Walker Art Gallery, Sudley House and Lady Lever Art Gallery, to get you feeling festive.
James Hamilton Hay
"This beautifully tranquil picture was painted by local artist James Hamilton Hay. It conjures up a wonderful sense of atmosphere in an accomplished yet simple way by using a limited range of colours. I often imagine how it would feel if I was walking through this landscape: the crisp, still air, the sound of crunching snow, the wonder of the falling star, and a cosy fire to look forward to in the village ahead. An ideal winter night."
Sandra Penketh, Executive Director of Galleries & Collections Care
Break up of the Ice on the Seine
"I cleaned this painting a couple of years ago, it was the loveliest painting I’ve worked on. I was able to remove all of the residues left from previous conservation campaigns and varnishes. I enjoyed removing the trickier ingrained varnish in the impasto of the sea under the microscope."
Rebecca Kench, Painting Conservator
John Melhuish Strudwick
"This painting reminds me of my teenage years in the Knowsley Youth Orchestra. Every year we did a Christmas performance in the Philharmonic Hall. I played the clarinet. It was a lovely event to do, really brought the Christmas feeling alive. Problem was though, because we needed a lot of rehearsals, they often started around September - imagine my ‘boredom’ for Christmassy music by the time Christmas actually came around!"
Simon Garland-Breedon, Visitor Host
The Shortening Winter's Day is Near a Close
"This is probably the first image that springs to most people’s mind when thinking of Christmas scenes from the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s collection. As one of the most popular pictures used on Christmas cards, it can easily be overlooked as a quaint British countryside scene, viewed many times before, but having the original painting hanging on our gallery's wall feels really quite special.
At Christmas it really gets it's chance to shine, our older visitors find a sense of joy from the nostalgia the painting provokes whilst the anticipation of snow at winter helps to engage even our youngest visitors to a landscape painted nearly 120 years ago, making this painting a firm favourite for visitors and staff alike."
Siobhan Cull, Learning and Participation Manager (Early Years & Families)
The Nativity (Adoration of the Shepherds)
"Here the artist makes a divine and holy scene relatable to us. The shepherds crowded into this Nativity are believably human. Dressed in ragged clothing, they are clearly working men. Mary kneels next to the newborn Jesus and cradles him, rather than joining her hands in prayer. The figures in this huge painting are life size, and we almost feel as though we are part of the scene, looking into the manger with them."
Kate O’Donoghue, Curator of International Fine Art
Sunlight and Snow
"I chose the watercolour because it reminds me of cold, crisp walks in winter, and the ever evasive dream of a white Christmas! I love the fall of light and shadow on the snow, and the cool blue tones contrasting with the dark trees."
Jessie Petheram, Tomlinson Assistant Curator of Fine Art (Documentation)
The Triumph of the Innocents
William Holman Hunt
"Painted in jewel rich colours and festooned with bauble-like orbs, this enchanting Pre-Raphaelite painting shows Jesus, Mary and Joseph in flight at night from Bethlehem to Egypt. This painting, which hangs in Room 8 at the Walker, our Victorian gallery, is often a favourite with our youngest visitors, entranced with the playful sweet faced cherub children that populate it. However, this painting actually alludes to the tragedy that precedes the New Testament’s Gospel of St Matthew’s nativity narrative - the cruel order of King Herod to execute infant boys in the search for the baby Jesus."
Bethany Farey, Art Galleries Learning and Participation Team Leader
Warmond Castle in a Winter Landscape
Jan Abrahamsz. Beerstraten
"This idyllic winter landscape of Warmond castle in the north of Leiden, Holland, perfectly captures my vision of a traditional Christmas scene. The snow glows brilliantly beneath a heavy sky, while the skaters dance and twirl on the icy river. The crisp wintry atmosphere is portrayed by the figures wrapped up tightly in their warm hats and coats. The leafless trees and tall pointed steeples also gives a mystical and ghostly presence, as if anything is possible."
Alex Patterson, Assistant Curator (Fine Art)
Angel Playing a Flageolet
Edward Burne Jones
"I was an angel in my school nativity, although my robes were boring white and my halo was made of tinsel, not flowers. I much prefer this angel’s colourful vibe, it’s such a beautiful painting which I always seek out when I’m at Sudley House."
Sam Carr, Digital Content Producer