Mon, 31 Oct 2011
National Gallery

It's been at least 20 years since I last visited the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. After visiting quite a few museums and galleries in the past year, you forget that this is the grandfather of them all. It has so many stunning pictures.

A Woman by Robert Campin, about 1435

I popped in on Sunday morning for a couple of hours, and was considering how to plan more visits. I thought I would start with the oldest pictures, those in the Sainsbury's Wing (a part of the gallery opened in 1991) These are from the 13th to the 15th Century and are mostly church and altar pieces, many painted in egg tempura on wood (it is only later that oil starts making an appearance).

A lot of pictures are quite naive or simple (but with a charm of their own). In fact, some Italian paintings display a similar body grotesque (e.g. Christ's wounds) to a style more often associated with Northern Europe.

The painting that struck me immediately was the one shown here, A Woman by Robert Campin. It is an amazingly life-like and beautifully rendered painting, all the more amazing for being created in 1435. It's absolutely wonderful.

It is seeing work of this calibre that makes me want to pick up a brush and paint. In fact, visiting art galleries and looking at paintings has stirred a bit of a desire to draw and paint again, something I have not done for over 20 years! We'll see ...

More to come.