Curator's Choice: Sonia Solicari on Atkinson Grimshaw's Dulce Domum at the Guildhall

Sonia Solicari interviewed by Ben Miller | 19 September 2011
A photo of a woman standing in front of a painting
© Painting: Private collection
Curator’s Choice: Sonia Solicari, of the beautiful display of Atkinson Grimshaw works at the Guildhall Art Gallery, tells us about a painting making an exclusive debut at the London show...

“This painting is called Dulce Domum and it dates from 1885. This whole Atkinson Grimshaw exhibition actually originated at the Mercer Gallery and it’s travelled here as a second venue, but this painting wasn’t on display at Harrogate – it’s come especially for the London leg of the tour.

It shows a very different Grimshaw to the painter of moonlight. This is obviously an interior scene and he’s painted it in his own home, so this is probably his own interior.

It shows how interested he was in creating an artistic surrounding. In the late 19th century the idea of the artist’s home and the status that conferred on the artist was very important, and it was also very important to show yourself to be a discerning collector of things like blue and white porcelain and peacock feather fans.

What’s really wonderful about this painting, I think, is the portrayal of the textiles. The dress the female figure is wearing has very lustrous silk and is very shimmery.

Also, you can see the pearls around her neck are incredibly 3D. So he’s obviously put in a lot of time and care conveying not only the textiles, but all of the possessions in this room, which indicates how important they were to him and how important the interior was.

Dulce Domum means “sweet home” – the home was an integral part of Victorian life and the Victorian idea of domesticity and feeling comfortable and safe. So all those things are really at the heart of what this painting is all about.”

  • Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter of Moonlight is at the Guildhall Art Gallery until January 15 2012.
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