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.
I can take or leave Canaletto’s paintings – they all look too similar to me and too yellow – nothing like the colourful Venice of my memory – but I loved his drawings – especially the early designs for the theatre., where he started his career. His drawings show his great sense of humour as well as his compassion.
His paintings and drawings of Venice would have been a must for wealthy Englishmen making their Grand Tour.
Interesting drawings and paintings by his contemporaries included some by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.
We have George III to thank for the collection. He bought Joseph Smith’s entire stock for £20,000 in 1762 – some 15,000 books, 500 paintings, drawings etc.
I personally prefer Canaletto’s paintings of London and its surroundings, carried out during his repeated visits to England 1746-1755, but obviously not included in this exhibition.
Another interesting retrospective of Giacometti’s work, though I preferred the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait gallery with lots more paintings and a broader view of his oeuvre. You can’t get very close to his small elongated sculptures and from the distance you are kept from them it’s hard to distinguish one from another
Most of the exhibits were sculptures – a surprising number of lifelike heads in the multitude in Room 1, as well as some of his signature long thin sculptures. Once again I was frustrated by having the titles of everything so far from the objects.
The enormous double life-size sculptures in the last room were amazing but one of the best things in the exhibition was the film about him, showing the amazing care with which his clay figurines were made – his hands darting rapidly from eyes, to crown and to mouth, modelling with fingers, knives or modelling tools.
For some reason, the coffee on the exhibition floor is always better than that in the downstairs café and the view from the balcony of the 3rd exhibition floor is stunning.
Looking around gallery shops is always a pleasure, though we might buy a couple of things for the grandchildren, rarely for ourselves. We have accumulated too many things!!
Didn’t realise that some mixtures of Herbes de Provence contain lavender leaves as well as savory, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and oregano, but of course, rosemary and lavender are closely related.
My I remind you If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat, and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
The show held in the Mary Ward House in Bloomsbury is the most convenient for us though we traipsed out to Canada Water for their excellent show in March. Perhaps one year we’ll go to Brighton for their show there and we look forward to their fair in Marylebone this October.
Now that Josh and I are 87 and 85 respectively, over the years we’ve accumulated so many ‘things’ that it’s hard to find something to buy. Our four children are near to their fifties too so they’re in a similar position.
Born in Barbados in 1959, he has moved around the world ending up in New York in 1982.
It’s hard to choose which of his work I liked best. This sculpture of colourful flowers growing out of skulls is certainly high on my list. The texture and colour of the stone container are gorgeous. The painting behind is Red Scooter (2009) a joyous vision of a family and their dog riding a red scooter on the beach.
Love this sculpture of a woman balancing on a pile of coconuts and holding another hammer-head shark .
The serene painting on the wall behind is K.T._K.T (2015).
We always book tickets for as early as possible, usually as soon as exhibitions open. In that way, they’re not still full of the viewers from previous slots. We were amazed at the long queues in both directions from Tate Britain’s side entrance. There is usually a gaggle of people waiting to get in but we’ve never seen crowds like these.
I booked rather as a duty than because I was thrilled at the thought of the exhibition. When I think of Hockney it’s of very pink nude male bottoms in a swimming pool but this exhibition was of much, much more, charting Hockney’s progress from his early student wok – more like graffiti than anything – up to his more recent exciting landscape videos – previously shown at the Royal Academy – and his iPad images.
Hockney’s painting of Celia and Ossie Clark is definitely my favourite. It was interesting seeing Celia Birtwell – now in her mid-seventies – interviewed on television and by the Independent, though for me she will always be that fresh-faced blonde in Hockney’s painting.
Note: Now that my memoir Woman in a White Coat is well on its way to its a final edit, if you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
Another excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy. The poster shows Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic. I had never liked this painting that I’d only seen in reproduction – glanced quickly and thought ‘What a miserable couple!’. In fact it’s of Grant Wood’s dentist and his sister, Nan. The house behind them is owned by the Dibble family. When you look carefully, Nan is quite pretty, with a gorgeous complexion so much better in the original painting.
I hadn’t been sure I wanted to visit the exhibition but it was a lovely March day, spring flowers in planters outside many of the shops and the Cherry Trees in blossom and I’m so glad I went out that Sunday.
Not a large exhibition but varied and well worth the visit.
Our excellent tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos, took us to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, W1, for one of our Tuesday morning sessions.
The course at Morley College is called Greek Mythology in Art and what an eye-opener!! I read loads of Myths and Legends as a child and thought I understood the Greek pantheon. Not a bit of it – it’s much more complicated than I’d thought – what with Gods, Goddesses, Titans and Heroes – often known by several names in Greek – let alone what they were called by the Romans.
By co-incidence the Wallace Collection has put together a guide to some of the many images they have of episodes from Greek Myths. Although I’ve visited the Wallace Collection several times, I hadn’t realised just how many paintings of mythical subjects there were.
In the 16th – 19th centuries a hierarchy of painting genres was recognised in which Historical Painting, which included paintings of myths and legends, was at the top, followed by Portrait painting, Genre painting, Landscapes and Cityscapes and Animal painting with Still Life on the bottommost rung.
Historical paintings were almost invariably a good excuse to include one or more nubile semi-nudes.
We visited only some of the objects mentioned in the Gallery tour but they included Titian’s painting of Perseus about to rescue Andromeda.
The mythical theme was carried on to furniture and table centrepieces. This French armoire c 1695 has a depiction of Apollo chasing Daphne on the left and Apollo watching the flaying of the Satyr Marsyas on the right.
When I picked up my copy of Ovid’s metamorphoses, it opened at the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. Yet another story Shakespeare pinched from the Classics and included in his Midsummer Night’s Dream.!