Fruits of the Spirit – Southampton City Art Gallery

Fruits of the Spirit

Fruits of the Spirit: Art from the Heart (5 Dec 2022 – 30 Apr 2023) is a nationwide project devised by the National Gallery. Nine participating regional partners selected works of art from their own collections to pair with National Gallery works in an online exhibition. Each pairing represents one of the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ and Southampton City Art Gallery’s ‘fruit’ is Gentleness.

An in-person trail can also be followed at the National Gallery, London.

Click here to visit the virtual exhibition…


Our pairing brings Southampton-based artist Lizzie Jones’ painting into dialogue with Thomas Gainsborough’s The Painter’s Daughters with a Cat from the National Gallery’s collection, dating from 1760-1. Jones’ captivating portrait Couple, 2005, was selected as it evokes a sense of gentleness and resilience. A golden glow envelops the sitters and we get a strong sense of their presence and their affectionate relationship. Jones scraped wax over layers of paint on the canvas to help convey a tension; whilst clearly evoking warmth, contextual awareness is key to a more complete understanding of the work. Jones found a photo of this unnamed couple in a 2000s Christian Aid issue about experiencing warfare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and we can infer the woman’s left hand was lost during war violence. However, the couple are represented as figures of hope. Despite facing hardship, they have found happiness and we are invited into this profound moment. As part of the collaboration, visitors will be able to see Couple on display in our Main Hall.

Click here to visit Lizzies website…

Click here to see more of Lizzies work…

Lizzie Jones (b.1972)

‘Couple’, 2005

Acrylic and wax on canvas, 55/2006

Purchased in 2006 through the Oriss Bequest from the artist.

© the artist.


This is a tender portrait of Thomas Gainsborough’s two young daughters from the National Gallery’s collection. Likely painted in Bath where the family moved in 1759, Margaret appears to be eight or nine years old, and Mary about ten or eleven. Gainsborough paints them in a natural and familiar way, resulting in a very different feel to his commissioned portraits. This painting strongly conveys that it was painted from life. His insight and personal observation come from deeply knowing his daughters and understanding their vulnerability. A loving and gentle moment is captured as Mary protectively wraps her arms around her younger sister – and tries to help contain the cat cradled and writhing in their arms. The cat is barely sketched in and except for their faces, most of the picture is unfinished. A suggestion of trees and the weather are found in feathery patterns of gold, blue, and grey brushstrokes surrounding the girls. An in-depth exploration of both paintings and all nine pairings is available in the free digital catalogue.

Click here to read the catalogue…

Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788)

‘The Painter’s Daughters with a Cat’, probably about 1760-1

Oil on canvas, NG3812

Purchased in 1923.

© The National Gallery, London.



Southampton-based writer, Frank Campbell, is involved with justice and peace networks, and a longstanding friend of the artist, Lizzie Jones. Frank attended several group sessions held in the Gallery and here are some of his responses to Southampton’s pairing of artworks, and a subsequent and ongoing discussions with the artist involving peace and justice.

click here to read Franks writing…

Over the last six months at Southampton City Art Gallery, we have engaged visitors and gathered responses to our selected pairing of paintings as well as the idea and definition of gentleness.

Examples of questions were “how would you define gentleness?” – and “what does it mean to be gentle to ourselves and others?” –  click on the images and scroll through some of the fantastic responses we have received from visitors.

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