Through the years artists have recorded, in both pencil and ink, the many changing faces of Southampton.

Today we have photographs and video images but in the past paintings and drawings were the means of recording people and places for posterity.

One of the explanations for the expression “to cost an arm and a leg” concerns artists.

In early portrait painting its cost would depend on how much of the body was painted. It was considered that drawing of limbs was harder and more time consuming, so they would actually cost more to paint or draw; hence the expression.

From artists such as Tobias Young (1755-1824) we have excellent examples of how the town looked during its Spa period.

One example of Tobias’s work is that of Old Southampton and Lansdowne Castle.

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Tobias exhibited at the Royal Academy in both 1816 and 1817.

Other examples of his work include panoramic scenes of Southampton and the surrounding area with vistas from Chessel House in Bitterne, and views from the New Forest looking towards Southampton reminding us of just how rural the area surrounding Southampton once was.

Art can also be a matter of taste and while fashion changes so do styles of art.

John Everrett Millais, (1829 -1896), born in Portland Street off Above Bar was one such innovator.

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The young Millais was seen as something of a child prodigy and was the youngest ever student to enter the Royal Academy in 1840.

In 1848, Millais was integral in forming a group of artists called the Brotherhood of Pre-Raphaelite painters which

included artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Holman Hunt.

Millais Street in Woolston is named after him.

Their portraits fully set out the natural beauty of the world in which their models firmly lived.

Another well known artist who came to Southampton was L.S. Lowry (1887-1976), famed for his paintings of industrial scenes in the North West.

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He first came to Southampton in 1954 and stayed with friends in the Bitterne area.

Being interested in industrial life, Lowry was fascinated with the floating bridge and took the old chain link ferry into the town on a number of occasions.

In 1956 Lowry painted two pictures of the floating bridge. One of the paintings has been retained in the city’s art collection while the second picture was sold at auction to a private collector in 1999 for the sum of £220,000.

Eric Meadus (1931-1970) was born in Rigby Road, Portswood but his family soon moved to Lobelia Road on the newly-built Flower estate off Burgess Road.

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He attended Bassett Green School and won a scholarship to King Edward VI Grammar School.

Meadus became an apprentice draughtsman at Vickers Armstrong before doing national service and emigrating to Canada where he began taking painting seriously.

On his return to Southampton he obtained employment as a draughtsman for Pirellis, for whom he worked until the end of his life.

Many of his paintings feature houses and other buildings in the Swaythling area of the 1950s and 1960s. His work was often compared with that of LS Lowry, his contemporary and acquaintance.

He died in 1970 at the young age of 39, just as he was beginning to achieve a degree of fame in the art world. Eric Meadus Close by Swaythling railway station is named after him.

The First Gallery, Bitterne has many originals of his work.

Art can not only show us people and places but it can also be a way to make a point or create a response.

Banksy is one such example today and his artwork has been seen around the city.

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In May 2020, Banksy gifted Game Changer, to the General Hospital. It depicts a child playing with a nurse attired as a superhero. It was sent to thank the NHS and support their charities. It sold at a Christie’s auction for £16,758,000.

The City Art Gallery was opened in April 1939 and often has examples of local scenes and artists.

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Maurice Keys is a tour guide with .