Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Spanish Art in Bishop Auckland

The Art Newspaper reported yesterday that in Bishop Auckland near Durham the new Spanish Gallery will open today. Dedicated to showing Spanish masterpieces in this picturesque and historic market town this looks to be a wonderful addition to the cultural resources of the area. To coin a phrase, this does look like ‘levelling up’ in good measure.

A few miles away is the largest collection outside London of works by Spanish great masters at the marvellous Bowes Museum Barnard Castle - now that is somewhere to drive to, and not just to test ones eyesight.

The origin however of this new scheme lies in the rescue of the paintings inside and then of  the very fabric of Bishop Auckland Castle, which opens off the Market Place. This, the historic residence of the Bishops of Durham, was disgracefully sold off some years ago by the miserably money-minded, penny-pinching Woke cultural vandals officially known as the Church Commissioners. The saviour of the Castle and its paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán has now helped bring about this and another museum on the history of mining in the area.

County Durham might not have been ones first thought as a destination in this country to view the incomparable riches - technical, visual and spiritual - of Spanish art, but it has now clearly become the first stop outside London.

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