5:34pm Monday 13th February 2012
By Matt Smith
A PAINTING of Romeo and Juliet hanging in Southampton’s municipal gallery has been voted the most romantic work of art on display in the UK.
The oil painting by Sir Frank Dicksee topped a vote conducted by pollsters YouGov on behalf of the Art Fund.
It found 71 per cent of people thought the canvas, tucked away in a corner of Southampton City Art Gallery, was the most romantic work of art currently on display in UK museums and galleries.
But it divided opinion among gallery visitors with some hailing it as beautiful while others called it clichéd.
The scene is the parting of Romeo and Juliet after their wedding night and the last time they will see each other alive.
Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, on display in Kent, came second in the poll, which surveyed 2,030 adults.
Southampton City Council’s 3,500-piece art collection, valued at around £180m, is internationally renowned and considered the fourth most significant outside London, Birmingham and Manchester. It boasts works by Turner, Lowry and Monet although most of the sprawling collection is hidden in council vaults.
Conservative council leaders attracted national controversy when they proposed raising £5m towards the city’s £15m Titanic themed SeaCity Museum by selling off work by Rodin and British painter Sir Alfred Munnings.
Tim Craven, lead curatorial officer for Southampton City Council, said: "I knew that we would be in with a good chance of winning this Art Fund competition with Sir Frank Dicksee’s Romeo and Juliet.
"It is a superb painting on a grand scale and has always been popular with regular Gallery visitors. It was bequeathed to the City Council by Mr J J Crossfield of Embley Park, Romsey in 1941."
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