The Laing Art Gallery is found on New Bridge Street, inside the Grade II listed building of the same name. It was founded in 1901 after Alexander Laing, in the spirit of the Victorian period’s philanthropy, used his wealth from a highly successful alcohol business and beer bottling company to establish the art gallery.
The Laing Art Gallery can be found in the city centre, not far from Earl Grey’s Monument. The collection of art was gathered after Alexander Laing decided not to buy any art for the gallery, instead relying on the generosity of the people of Newcastle to fill it. A risky choice, but this actually became a highly beneficial decision as today the gallery has a large collection of art, from oil and watercolour paintings to a range of ceramics.
Its collection of classic and historical art is truly world-class and highlights many of the successful artists who have come from the North East over the years
Newcastle also has a great history of producing silverware and glass, examples of which can be seen at the Laing. A little-known fact is that Newcastle nearly had the contract to produce the bottles for champagne – had Britain not gone to war with France again. The gallery regularly puts on exhibits of travelling artwork and highlights particularly special pieces within their own collection with talks and events occurring throughout the year.
One of the things that makes the Laing particularly special is the amount of artwork by local artists such as Thomas Bewick, Ralph Hedley and John Martin. There are also great examples of art showing Newcastle’s transformation over time and urban landscapes that now no longer exist, especially from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. If you prefer 18th and 19th-century artwork, then the first floor of the gallery contains a fine collection including the famous Isabella and the Pot of Basil, which is often seen as the jewel of the Laing’s collection. The Laing is well worth a visit on your trip to Newcastle as its collection of classic and historical art is truly world-class, and highlights many of the successful artists who have come from the North East over the years.