The First Born is a popular art work on regular display at the Ferens Art Gallery Hull. It is not however universally popular as some dismiss it as "chocolate box" art.
But is is a skilful work of art whether you like the subject matter or not.
It was painted by Fred Elwell a semi-local artist.
Fred Elwell was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1870 and died in 1958. If you search the Internet for him you will find that information is fairly scarce. However, in my city Kingston-upon-Hull his is a fairly well-known name.
Fred attended evening art classes, before winning a scholarship to the Lincoln School of Art in 1887. He was a successful student and won many awards. Although he experimented with modern influences he opted for the traditional style of painting which was currently popular.
Fred travelled abroad painting in Antwerp and Paris and had plans to move to London and make the capital his home. However, this was not to be. Financial constraints and poor health saw him return to Beverley.
There is little doubt that if circumstances had been different his name would have been more widely known.
In 1914 Fred married Mary Dawson, a local widow, who was also an established, local artist. With an improved financial position Fred and Mary travelled extensively and Fred became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1938.
Ultimately Fred believed that :-
"painting is 90 per cent perspiration and 10 per cent inspiration" and regarded modern art movements as "misguided attempts at being different ".
A traditional artist, many of Fred's paintings are disliked by modern artists and dismissed as chocolate box, sentimental and chintzy. There is no denying though that Fred was an exceptional artist and his work is charming and well as professional.
One of his most famous paintings locally is "The first born" which is part of the Ferens Art Gallery's vast collection. The painting shows a young husband sitting on the bed of his wife as she holds their newly born first child. It is sweet and very much of the time.
There are works of art by Fred Elwell on display at galleries around the country including in Beverley and Bristol.
Beverley, East Yorkshire is quite rightly proud of Fred Elwell and his local links.
For 2009 a Fred Elwell trail was created organised. It meant that some of Fred's paintings were hung in prominent positions around Beverley; places significant to each piece of work.
Most of Fred's paintings incorporated areas and settings in and around Beverley.
Beverley still has a quaintness, retaining much of its old world charm, despite having modern shops and roads.
Ferens Art Gallery
The Ferens is located in Victoria Square in the centre of Kingston-Upon-Hull and is free to visit. It is owned, run and maintained by the local council.
The gallery has permanent collections on display which include works of art by Canaletto and Frans Hals as well as modern works and temporary displays.
The gallery's gift shop sells greetings cards and posters of The First Born and more.
Beverley is around 7 miles outside of Kingston-Upon-Hull in East Yorkshire, England. It is a small market town which is very pretty. Within a short distance there are the Yorkshire wolds, York, Harrogate and the coast.
Beverley has a through train station with links around the country and a good bus service. As a base for exploring East Yorkshire it would be a perfect.
Beverley though small has a racecourse with a good programme of events. There is a large market held every Saturday and a smaller Wednesday market.
The Westwood, a short walk from the centre of Beverley, is a great place to picnic or just stretch your legs. Beverley has a good selection of shops, restaurants and cafes. Good antiquarian book stores and antique shops are dotted around.
Beverley has a Minster and the historic St Marys Church which are also worth a visit.
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