From Thomas Gainsborough to Tracey Emin: The Family in British Art at Millennium Gallery

By Ben Miller | 16 February 2012
A photo of a man and woman embracing
© Alison Jackson / Hamiltons Gallery
Exhibition: The Family in British Art, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, until April 29 2012

From Vanessa Bell’s portrayal of a dozing Virginia Woolf and Sarah Jones’s stuffy dining rooms to boisterous garden scenes from Stanley Spencer and fake photos of the royal family stage-managed by Alison Jackson, images of family are a good place to start in an exploration of British art across the last couple of centuries.

There are more than 65 historic and contemporary works here, taken from the Tate, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery and Sheffield’s own impressive collections, taking in artists including William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Tracey Emin and Rachel Whiteread.

Martin Parr’s Two Children eat Ice-creams on the Seafront, from the 1986 series Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton, also features.

“The concept of family means many different things to different people,” says Curator Louisa Briggs.

“This wonderful collection of work illustrates just how radically the British idea of family and the way it’s been represented has changed over the centuries.”

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-4pm Sunday). Admission free.

More pictures:

An image of an oil painting of two young women in dresses with a dog between them
John Vanderbank, Anne and Mary Tonson (1734)© Museums Sheffield

An image of an oil painting of a crowded family kitchen
Jonathan Leaman, A Jan Steen Kitchen (1995-6)© Courtesy Jonathan Leaman / Beaux Arts Gallery
An image of a colourful oil painting of a family crowded around a small domestic garden
Stanley Spencer, The Lovers (1934)© Collection of Laing Art Gallery, Tyne and Wear Archive and Museums
An image of an oil painting of three young girls near a table inside a dining room
Sarah Jones, The Dining Room (Francis Place) I (1997)© Tate, London 2011, courtesy Maureen Paley
A black and white photo of a family posing together during the 1960s
Family Portrait (1960s). From the Belle Vue Studio Archive© Bradford Museums and Galleries

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