Ferens Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Square, Carr Lane, Hull, HU1 3RA – Visit Now
Opened in 1927, Ferens Art Gallery houses a superb collection, including masterpieces by Stanley Spencer, David Hockney, Helen Chadwick and Gillian Wearing. The nationally significant permanent collection includes sculpture alongside still life, landscape and portrait paintings that span from the medieval period to the present day – as well as playing host to a changing programme of temporary exhibitions.
The gallery is named after Thomas Robinson Ferens, who began contributing to the city of Hull’s art collection in 1905 by offering £5,000 in five annual instalments for purchasing works of art, and is built from Portland stone and grey-coloured marble. Called ‘Bianco del Mare’, the marble for the building was almost lost at sea when a fire broke out on the ship transporting it to Hull from Italy; further mishap followed when Ferens himself was unable to attend the opening after 18 months of construction, due to a broken ankle.
Fairer fortunes were ahead; the original building was extended in 1989, with the reopening in 1991 overseen by the Queen Mother. The twelve spaces inside now showcase the permanent collection that Ferens began, alongside temporary exhibitions. A rare Sienese masterpiece by Lorenzetti is the centrepiece of the Renaissance and Baroque works in Gallery 1 – dating from around 1320, it is the oldest object in the art gallery’s holdings and the only piece by the artist in a UK collection. Gallery 2 centres on The Netherlands, illustrating the importance of Hull’s trading and cultural links through works from the Dutch Golden Age in the 16th and 17th centuries. France and Italy are the focus of Gallery 3, with works by Francesco Guardi and Antonio Canaletto, while Galleries 4, 7 and 8 are dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
Gallery 6 demonstrates the influence of French artists – and particularly the French Impressionists – on early 20th-century British art, with works on show including Hotel Royal, Dieppe by Walter Sickert. These paintings, with their focus on the shifting tonalities of light and weather, sit alongside the bolder colours used by the Scottish Colourists. Gallery 9 moves into Modern and Contemporary art, with particular attention to portraiture from contrasting practitioners including David Hockney, Gillian Wearing, Euan Uglow and Francesca Woodman, while Gallery 12 takes a thematic approach, showcasing maritime artworks including examples from the 19th-century Hull School of Maritime Painting. Close to Paragon Arcade and the Maritime Museum, Ferens Art Gallery also offers a family and children’s gallery (ages 0-5), a café and gift shop – and is a must-visit for any trip to Hull.
And when you’re planning that trip, do check out our dedicated guide to the city, which showcases the best the city has to offer by way of heritage, culture and culinary delights.