A painting of a beautiful 18th century Russian aristocrat has been voted the most popular exhibit at the University of Birmingham’s art gallery.
Visitors to the Barber Institute picked The Portrait of Countess Golovine, by French artist Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrum in 1797, in a poll.
Johan Christian Dahl’s Mother and Child by the Sea, painted in 1840, and a Roman denarius coin, from about 43BC commemorating the murder of Julius Caesar were voted second and third favourites.
The poll marks the publication of a new Director’s Choice book featuring the collection by the Institute’s director Professor Ann Sumner.
Professor Sumner said:. “Finding out the most popular work of art in our collection has been a long-running ambition here at the Barber.
"Lebrun’s magnificent painting has always been well liked, so it is no great surprise to see that it has topped the poll. It is also included in the new Director’s Choice guidebook as one of my very favourite works.”
The Portrait of Countess Golovine polled 20 per cent of the vote and was championed by Radio 4 arts correspondent Rebecca Jones, who said: “The first time I saw the Portrait of Countess Golovine, I was captivated.
"It’s those eyes, the colour of Bournville chocolate, gazing directly at you – and yet that enigmatic smile. You feel you know the Countess, and yet she conceals as much as she reveals.”
For more information about all of the works featured in the poll and book, visit www.barber.org.uk/choice.htm