Pricey (£14) but a good exhibition and worth seeing.
I think my favourite pictures were some of the tiny miniature portraits from the 16th and 17th centuries. These are small oval paintings about 3-4 cm in size, and usually the head (and perhaps shoulders) of the subject (the subjects being nobility in general). A few of the paintings were good because they used subtle facial expression and detail to make the subjects come to life as real individuals (something Hogarth does on a much grander scale elsewhere in the gallery).
The exhibition covers five centuries, all the way to very recent works. There are also a few Turner watercolours, and we can see how closely his more famous oil paintings are mirrored in the watercolours he did. The way the colours wash into each other is his signature and he achieves a very "watercolour" effect even in oils. Turner's a "star" but other land, sea and town-scapes also stood out and show how versatile watercolour is.
One thing that I wish I had was a small notebook, so I could note down the pictures and artists I was most taken with. Using the mobile phone to do this seemed to much trouble. I wish the free booklet given out had thumbnails of all the works displayed. Unfortunately, I can't remember many or would link to them. Google helps a little though.
Tate Britain 16 February – 21 August 2011
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