|Pauline in the Yellow Dress, Herbert James Gunn, 1944|
I see this painting on my desktop every day ... I can't remember why I dragged it there but it has become my gateway to BBC's Your Paintings, my favourite website, where I drop in constantly for work and for pleasure.
So when I realised I'd be passing through Preston on my way to the Lakes, I thought I'd break the journey to visit Pauline at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery.
Isn't she a glamour puss, with her 'shampoo and set' hairdo, her red lips and painted toenails peeping out from her shoe? (The Daily Mail called her 'the Mona Lisa of 1944.'
|Dorette, Gerald Leslie Brockhurst, 1933|
Then I came across Dorette ... don't you think she could be a Daphne du Maurier heroine?
|In the Golden Olden Time, John Atkinson Grimshaw, c 1870|
One of the best things about visiting provincial museums is running into old friends - like this Atkinson Grimshaw - and thinking, 'Well, fancy that, I never realised you lived here!' Is this a Wilkie Collins' heroine on her way to confront the brute who seduced her and got her with child ....
Or is she just an ordinary woman walking briskly home to a welcoming fireplace? (No prizes for guessing that I prefer the Victorian melodrama option.)
|Girl Reading, Harold Knight, 1932|
|Preston Corporation Chrysanthemum House, Albert Woods, 1921|
The Harris Museum is one of those wonderful examples of Victorian civic pride and there are some magnificent buildings in the city centre. I strolled for an hour - it's easy to wander out of Victorian splendour and into present day poverty/drugs - but I also discovered this beautiful Georgian square and a café that was like stepping back to the 1930s.
And then ... I jumped back on the train and headed for Art Deco Morecambe.