Category Archives: Gallery

The Encounter – Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt at the National Portrait Gallery, London

The Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery

The Encounter – another fascinating exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of 48 drawings by the masters from Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) to Rembrandt (1606-1669).

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.

Old Woman wearing a Ruff and Cap attributed to Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678

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.

 

A souvenir from the small shop in the exhibition

 

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 few of Rembrandt’s drawings on the cover of a sketch book

 

A brilliant capture of male faces in these sketches by Rembrandt. I find them very reminiscent of Hokusai’s manga drawings.

I was pleased to find that the exhibition was quite small so I felt up to visiting the portraits on show from the BP Portrait Award 2017 – reviewed here next week.

 

Hokusai ‘Beyond the Great Wave’ at the British Museum

Beyond the Great Wave

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.’

Nichiren and Shichimen daimyojin

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.

Cushions and other artefacts based on Hokusai prints

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.

Canaletto and The Art of Venice at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Also with paintings and drawings by his contemporaries

Another fascinating exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Queen’s own collection.

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.

 

A view of the Rialto

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.

Giacometti at Tate Modern

The long thin sculptures we associate with Giacometti

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.

The Giacometti posters against a backdrop of the River Thames and St Paul’s

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.

 

Always lots of merchandising!!

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!!

 

MADE Craft Fair Bloomsbury Part 2

Alexa Simone Cushions

I had only recently made new covers for our scatter cushions or I’d have been very tempted to buy some of these cushions by Alexa Simone.

Jane Sedgwick Beads

 

 

Jane Sedgwick’s stand reminded me of kindergarten and how satisfying it is to thread wooden beads .

Sally McGill’s delicate ceramics

 

 

Gorgeous delicate ceramics by Sally McGill. Alas, absolutely no room in our flat for any more.

 

The sweet smell of lavender

 

Delighted to smell lavender as we passed Prilly Lewis’s stand and so pleased my sense of smell is getting stronger all the time.

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.

MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

Another great craft show

We always enjoy Tutton and Young’s annual MADE craft fairs.

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.

Set of generous sized mugs by Iris de la Torre

 

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.

Delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake

Our son Simon and his wife were coming for  tea before visiting the Hockney Exhibition at Tate Britain. Amy likes a generous cup ,so we were delighted to find these delightful mugs by Mexican-born Iris de la Torre.

I got up at dawn and made this delicious Raspberry and Hazelnut cake with a recipe from a John Lewis publication. This cake is  a family favourite. In there’s any left over it freezes well!!

Recipe

Continue reading MADE Bloomsbury Part 1

Ashley Bickerton – Damien Hurst does it again

 

Orange Shark (2008)

Ashley Bickerton’s Ornamental Hysteria is another brilliant exhibition in Damien Hurst’s gallery in Newport Street. Like the previous exhibition of his own Jeff Koons artefacts, the exhibition extends over two floors.

Born in Barbados in 1959, he has moved around the world ending up in New York in 1982.

Flower Pot (2009)

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.

Canoe, shark, woman (2016)

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).

I must go again!!

David Hockney at Tate Britain, London

Open until May 29th 2017

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.

Some of the prints on sale

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.

My favourite painting – Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark

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. 

America after the Fall, Royal Academy, London

Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic 1930

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.

Not much in the way of Abstract Expressionism, though there had just been a huge exhibition of those works. Just one Georgia O’Keefe – Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Grant Wood’s painting of three elderly women – Daughters of Revolution – struck terror – you could imagine them ruling their families and communities with a rod of iron!! There were a few painting reminiscent of German Expressionism – like Philip Evergood’s Dance Marathon and Reginald Marsh’s Twenty Cent Movie. Just one of those sad, evocative Edward Hopper paintings – Gas.

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.

Gods and Goddesses in Manchester Square – the Wallace Collection

Guided trail of images illustrating stories from Ovid

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.

Titian’s Perseus about to release Andromeda

We visited only some of the objects mentioned in the Gallery tour but they included Titian’s painting of Perseus about to rescue Andromeda.

 

Late 17th century French Armoire

 

 

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.!