Often I’ve felt overwhelmed at the Summer Exhibitions by the crowds and the works massed together higgledy-piggledy, but this year the exhibition is themed and great. It’s absolutely a ‘MUST GO’.
This fabulous exhibition made me feel I ought to get out my paints and pastels and start painting and drawing again. After I retired in 1991 I went to a wide variety of classes including drawing and painting.
Hear about the Art Class at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I attended after I retired in 1991 in this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat’ – Chapter 26 pp 355-356 and pp 361-363
‘Woman in a White Coat’ is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
Chapter 26 Woman in a White Coat
I enrolled for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking, machine knitting, felt making – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the inclination. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.
One of the artefacts on display in the Queen’s Gallery Scottish Artist exhibition is this magnificent automaton and musical clock by John Smith of Pittenweem. it was exhibited in London in 1808 and put up for sale by lottery. The purchaser was not recorded but it was later acquired by William B Smith of Glasgow, exhibited in 1911 and purchased by the citizens of Glasgow in 1922. It was given to the then Duke of York (later King George VI) and Lady Elisabeth Bowes – Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother) on the occasion of their marriage.
When you think of all the the things we have to time from boiling an egg, to baking a cake, to taking a pulse and timing contractions, you have to be grateful for the invention of clocks.
Then you have to think about all the things we have to wait for – your birthday, the next post, the result of an exam, the birth of your baby and the reply from a literary agent who seems interested.
Sadly, the queues to get into the gothic Milanese Cathedral were just too long for us to go inside. Il Duomo stands in a large pedestrianised square that leads into the colonnaded Via Victor Emanuel, where all the familiar expensive shops are. The Excelsior, a large store off the Via Victor Emanuel, had a display of the most perfect produce I’ve ever seen.
Most of my friends had, like me, only passed through Milan, and from the railways station it seemed drab and industrialised. The reality now is a delightful elegant city.
We went to the enormous Symbolist Exhibition at the Palazzo Reale showing 19 sections of symbolist paintings as well as the quotations from Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du Mal that inspired them. Many of the paintings were unknown to me, though, before I looked closely, I thought that the paintings in the last room by Galileo Chini were by Gustav Klimt .
Though fascinating, it’s not an exhibition to visit if you’re feeling a bit down, with its mix of dreams, magic, mystery, legend and death .
Trams were everywhere, large advertisements along their sides. My hip is still a problem so crossing tramlines and uneven paving stones with large gaps between them was daunting
I found these paintings interesting more because of their historical background than their craft. For me these are not the greatest of painters but they cast a light on both the Royals of the time (Part 2 to follow) and the attitude of the painters to the depiction of traditional themes. Whereas the Dutch in the previous exhibition, Dutch Artists in the Time of Vermeer, are happy to show the seamier side of domestic life, the poor in The Penny Wedding and Blind Man’s Buff by Sir David Wilkie show only innocent enjoyment. Similarly the paintings of the Spanish like his The Defence of Saragossa or El Paseo and The Dying Contrabandista (guerrilla) by John Philip are romanticised, unlike the dark images of Spanish painters themselves like Goya and Velasquez.
There has been a slew of exhibitions recently of major artists with either the artists they influenced or together with other artists making work at around the same time – such as the Botticelli and Delacroix exhibitions.
This exhibition, In the Age of Giorgione, at the Royal Academy brings together paintings by artists working in Venice including Giorgione (Giovanni Cariani 1477/8 – 1510) himself and other Renaissance masters such as Titian, Bellini, Lotto and del Plombo as well as by Albrecht Durer. I much preferred the Giorgione and Durer portraits to the rest. They speak to me in a way the others do not.
Little is know of Giorgione’s life, other than that at 23 he was already appreciated enough to be asked to paint the portraits of the Doge Agostino Barbarigo and of the condottiere Consalvo Ferrante. Born in Castelfranco, he died at the early age of 33 – already extremely influential among his contemporaries.
What a fantastic, shaming, inspiring, huge exhibition. So much to read; so much to think about.
At school in the 1940s and 50s, we had a pageant every Empire Day, May 24th – Queen Victoria’s Birthday. We celebrated the amount of pink colouring on our map of the world showing which countries or states were under British Rule, and we repeated that The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire. The prettiest girl would be Britannia, symbol of British values, complete with Neptune’s trident, lion and British Union Jack flag, while the rest of us would be dressed in various ‘native’ costumes and sing Rule Britannia – confirming that Britain rules the waves (hence the trident) and that we never never shall be slaves – though we did jolly well out of the slave trade in its heyday. Rebadged in1958 as Commonwealth Day, Empire Day was changed in 1977 to the second Monday in March.
The iconic portrait by the Austin artist Rodolf Swoboda shown in the Tate Britain poster was one of three portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria. Though exhibited at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886 as ‘Genuine Artists’, they are of prisoners in Agra gaol who were being rehabilitated by training in a variety of handicrafts. Ramlal, a 9-year old boy, (and what crime could a 9-year old have committed?) was a carpet weaver while Mohammed Hosein was a 26-year old coppersmith.
Paintings, photographs, cartoons, banners, sculptures, Benin bronzes and wood carvings – a lot to take in during one visit.