It shouldn’t surprise me but surprise me it did – seeing how little we’ve changed in the last six centuries. The clothes – especially the hats and hairstyles – may have changed but the expressions, so brilliantly captured by these masters, remain the same.
This old woman is so brilliantly drawn with the muscles of her cheek pushed up by the fist she is leaning on is one of my favourites. One of the reasons for wearing ruffs was to hide swollen tuberculous neck glands, rare now in the Western word and we don’t wear caps but you could see her or her sister in any present day gathering of old ladies.
I am always a sucker for shops in art galleries. The National Portrait Gallery has a small shop attached to the current exhibition as well as the large shop at the front of the gallery – both full of things you don’t need but must have.
The women on the bag look very serious but if they broke into a smile you could see their like in the streets of London.
A wonderful exhibition of Hokusai’s work, all the better for having seen the excellent documentary ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ beforehand. It was shown both at the British Museum and at a selection of cinemas as well as on BBC4 where it can be seen on iPlayer.
During his lifetime, Hokusai (1760-1849) adopted upwards of 20 different names. He adopted this last one – Hokusai – when he was 70, meaning ‘Old Man Crazy to Paint.’
The exhibition shows his work from his old age and we are amazed at the quality of the line and colour. Before that, most of his work was reproduced as woodcuts and a video shows the consummate skill with which the finest of lines are carved. I particularly liked ‘The Gamecock and Hen’ painted 1826-1834.
And loved this gem showing his signature dragon as well as the deity Nichiren.
He made hundreds of little drawings – manga then meaning ‘random’, which show his wicked sense of humour.
Always a selection of interesting artefacts related to the current exhibition in the Grenville Room, the more exclusive shop on the right near the main entrance. Josh found this Toilet Bowl Cleaner while surfing the web. Hokusai seemed to have been such a jokey person – I think he would have appreciated the humour!! Certainly, some of his drawings were quite racy.
If you can’t get to the British Museum, do watch the film ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ on iPlayer.