Nick's Picks – Our Guide to Fathers Day Gifting

With Father’s Day just a few weeks away, we asked Nick Turner, Buyer at The Courtauld Gallery Shop, for his top five gift ideas for Dad.

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Gift Membership to The Courtauld Gallery, from £55 per year
Gift Membership is a wonderful present for art lovers that lasts all year. Members can participate in a special events programme, take advantage of discounts in the Gallery Café and shop, meet with curators and enjoy free entry for themselves plus a guest the whole year round.


Bloomsbury Blue Cufflinks, £35
These unique cufflinks are inspired by designs from the Omega Workshops. Established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose members included Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group.


Cezanne Tie, £30
This vibrant tie takes its inspiration from Cezanne’s Lac d’Annecy, currently on display in The Courtauld Gallery.


The Courtauld Gallery Masterpieces, £10
This publication invites you to explore in the masterpieces from across The Courtauld Gallery’s Collection, stretching from the early Renaissance to the twentieth century. It includes iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings such as Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Berègre, van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Cézanne’s Montagne Sainte-Victoire, as well as drawings by Michelangelo and Rembrandt and rare works of decorative art.


The Courtauld Gallery Prints
Our prints service offers 40,000 high quality digital images of paintings, drawings, architecture and sculpture from The Courtauld Gallery and The Courtauld Institute of Art. Prints are available in a range of sizes, finishes, and can be supplied framed or unframed.


Father’s Day gifts are a great way to spoil your dad and though it can be hard to find the perfect gift for Father’s Day, hopefully Nick has made it a little easier.


Contemporary Greats: Finding Inspiration in The Courtauld's Collection

Pierre-Albéric Coulouma, Marketing and Communications

Regrets is a haunting series of painting and drawings by Jasper Johns, inspired by a photograph of Lucian Freud posing in Francis Bacon’s studio.

This display at The Courtauld Gallery has prompted me to look at other works within the collection which have inspired contemporary artists. The artworks I discuss below are drawn at random, but have a common thread of using female characters to convey different stories.

Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is one of the Courtauld’s most famous paintings, and continues to intrigue.

This masterpiece helped define modern painting at the dawn of the 19th century with its unorthodox composition of figures in space, and with the barmaid’s notorious look conveying mystery and melancholy to the viewer.

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881-82

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881-82

Jeff Wall pioneered conceptual and post conceptual photography while establishing The Vancouver School with fellow artists Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, and others. Hey may have initially encountered A Bar at the Folies-Bergères when researching his PhD at The Courtauld Institute of Art between 1970 and 1973. 

Like Manet’s painting, Jeff Wall has challenged tradition with his groundbreaking work A Picture for Women. Also writer, lecturer and art theorist, Wall is known for making references to art history in his practice and A Picture for Women is directly inspired by A Bar at the Folies-Bergères.

View of Jeff Wall, Picture for Women, 1979, transparency in lightbox, 142.5 x 204.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist

Jeff Wall, Picture for Women, 1979, transparency in lightbox, 142.5 x 204.5 cm, Courtesy of the artist.

Both Manet’s and Wall’s works make use of a mirror image, where lights in the background provide spatial depth.

Manet depicts a myriad of distracting elements providing some clues on the context and narrative of this original work, while Wall’s work is more minimalistic, and gives priority to the interplay between the two main figures and the camera standing in the middle.

Both works seem to internalise a connection between two characters and the viewer. Whereas the barmaid in A Bar at the Folies-Bergères strikes the viewer with her look; A Picture for Women engages the viewer both through the female character’s expression and through the central camera.

The women in the two pieces have the same posture, and most strikingly, look out of the frame in the same way. In both cases a male figure stares at them from a shadowy background; emphasising their evading gaze.

The identity of the man in A Bar at the Folies-Bergères is not confirmed, though most agree that Manet himself is the most likely candidate. Jeff Wall echoes this theory by portraying himself in his photograph.

The relationship between the model, the artist, and the viewer produces a tension by turning the viewer into a sort of witness on the scene. This mise-en-scene is said to depict the ‘power relationship between male artist and female model’ (1) and author David Campany also takes a gender themed approach and comments on the patriarchal contemporary visual culture where ‘women’ connotates ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ (2).

Other contemporary artists have found inspiration in Impressionist masterpieces. A recent exhibition at the Hayward Gallery called The Human Factor presented two works derived from Edgard Degas’s Dancer.

View of Edgar Degas, Two Dancers on the Stage, 1874

Edgar Degas, Two Dancers on the Stage, 1874

Ryan Gander has produced a series of bronze sculptures based on Degas’ Dancers. With playfulness, Gander creates a new life for Degas’s subject.

View of Ryan Gander, Out of sight (all on my own), 2011, 2 Bronze sculptures, two blue cubes and two empty plinths, est size 45(h) x 35(w) x 40(d) each (sculptures) © the artist; Courtesy, Lisson Gallery, London

Ryan Gander, Out of sight (all on my own), 2011, 2 Bronze sculptures, two blue cubes and two empty plinths, est size 45(h) x 35(w) x 40(d) each (sculptures) © the artist; Courtesy, Lisson Gallery, London

As in a fantasy the model comes back to life and starts to wander off the gallery space. Off her plinth for a cigarette break, or seemingly crying in a corner, the ballerina becomes an individual leading us to believe in new narratives. Gander points out this is not about replicating Degas’ sculpture, ‘it’s about reproducing the character of the ballerina who posed for him.’

Yinka Shonibare is often known as the artist who put « Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle » for its occupancy of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism and a hallmark of his art is the brightly coloured fabric he uses.

View of Yinka Shonibare MBE. “Girl Ballerina,” 2007 Courtesy of the artist

Yinka Shonibare MBE. “Girl Ballerina,” 2007, Courtesy of the artist.

Shonibare reinterprets a masterpiece by dressing up Degas’ dancer with his signature African-inspired costume, adding an 18th century pistol to her hand. The outcome is a juxtaposition of three strong signifiers: Degas’s dancers, the African inspired costume and an 18th century pistol.

Consequently, this work strongly suggests issues around colonialism and/or post-colonialism as it draws parallels between the occident, Africa and colonialism.

In sharp contrast to Jeff Wall who focuses on art history to challenge photographic tradition and Ryan Gander’s concept of introspection in the Dancer, Shonibare uses art history as a platform and a tool to express this thinking on colonialism and/or post-colonialism.


See The Courtauld Gallery’s collection for yourself – open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

Images provided courtesy of Jeff Wall, Ryan Gander and Yinka Shonibare.



(1) From the gallery guide for the exhibition ‘Jeff Wall: Photographs 1978-2004’, Tate Modern, London, 21 October 2005 – 8 January 2066; and quoted in D. Campany, ‘Jeff Wall, Picture for Women’, Afterall, 2011.
(2) D. Campany, ‘Jeff Wall, Picture for Women’, Part of One Work Series, Afterall Books, 2011.

Courtauld Pairings

What do Christ ascending to heaven and a Parisian trapeze artist have in common? 

Ivory diptych

Ivory diptych with scenes from the Childhood and Passion of Christ (see the full image)

Manet's 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergere'

Edouard Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (see the full image)



Can you think of any other ‘suspended’ works in our collection?

Leave a comment below, tweet us @CourtauldGall or find us on Facebook 

Let's Get Grayson and turn The Courtauld into 'Grayson's Bar'

Let's Get Grayson

We’re REALLY excited that The Courtauld Gallery has been shortlisted for Connect 10, the competition which gives venues the chance to win a top artist for their Museums at Night event.

We’re in with a chance to work with Grayson Perry for our late event and need YOUR help to win!

We’re up against four shortlisted venues and the museum with the most votes will win Grayson!

If we win we have proposed that we will run an event inspired by Manet’s famous painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

Utilising the theme of a bar we will create interventions and encounters within the gallery. Like Manet’s barmaid, Grayson will be at the centre of a night of merriment and convivial conversation.

At ‘Grayson’s Bar’, Perry could work with the assembled crowd and draw together thoughts about a contemporary version of the painting – creating a collaborative new picture of modern life in London in 2014.


Vote online or pop into the gallery and cast your vote at admissions. The public vote runs from 11am on Tuesday 14 January to 5pm on Tuesday 28 January.