'Enchantments lately seen upon the Mountains of Wales' by James Gillray
'Enchantments lately seen upon the Mountains of Wales' by James Gillray

Courtesy of the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford; Bridgeman Images

New exhibitions open at Ashmolean

Matt Pickles

Two new exhibitions have opened at the Ashmolean Museum.

Love Bites: Caricatures by James Gillray and Great British Drawings will be on display until 21 June and 31 August respectively.

Love Bites marks the 200th anniversary of the death of British caricaturist James Gillray. Visitors can see more than 60 of Gillray’s finest caricatures from the collection of New College, Oxford.

'We are accustomed to seeing caricatures that divide the world along political and personal lines,’ says Professor Todd Porterfield, exhibition curator.

'In this exhibition I hope to emphasise a previously under-explored theme in James Gillray’s work: love, friendship and alliances; and by doing so to provoke fresh insights into his work and to show that Gillray was a substantial figure of his time and an enduringly great artist.'

Great British Drawings showcases the Ashmolean’s collection of British drawings and watercolours, which is considered one of the most important in the world. The exhibition comprises more than 100 words by some of the country’s greatest artists and many of them are on display for the first time.

The exhibition includes work from Flemish artists working in Britain in the sixteenth and seventh centuries and experiments in modernism instigated on the Continent and enthusiastically taken up by the British after the First World War.

'The exhibition of Great British Drawings can only scratch the surface of the extraordinary riches of the Ashmolean’s collections,' says Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of European Art at the Ashmolean Museum.

'It will provide the visitor with an unparalleled opportunity to explore the amazing variety of drawing in Britain, from the rapid sketch in pencil or pen, to the most highly wrought watercolour.'

Ashmolean staff hanging a James Gillray caricatureAshmolean staff hanging a James Gillray caricature

Ashmolean Museum