Up early to Trafalgar Square (8:30) and thinking maybe, just
maybe, I'll be able to get in and see the Leonardo
exhibition on at the National Gallery,
Painter at the Court of Milan. Sadly, it was not to be.
Turning the corner and seeing a very long queue snaking around the building made me
snap back to reality. I half-heartedly joined the end and waited a few minutes. However,
some staff were walking down the queue saying that there were "no tickets" and that we
would not get in, so I gave up and went to the Wallace Collection
again instead. I might try Leonardo one more time in January.
In the meantime, the Wallace is a great collection of lots of stuff. Including
paintings, furniture, porcelain, ceramics and medieval armour. A particular emphasis on
pre-revolution French art.
Portrait of Madame Perregaux, Elizabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (18th C)
Madame Perregaux was reportedly very pleased with this portrait because it was very
flattering. I like it as well, the eyes are almost twinkling.
Detail from Standing Bowl: Lucretia. Urbino District, Mid-16th Century
There are some wonderful pictures on display in the exhibition
taking place at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge,
Not all of them by Jan Vermeer
Right: Vermeer, The Lacemaker c.1669-1670
Although Jan Vermeer is one of the best known of the Dutch 17th
Century masters, some of the others here are also amazingly good, even painting
similar subjects. For example: Pieter de Hooch and
Gerard ter Borch.
Left: Gerard ter Borch, Young Woman with a Glass of Wine, Holding a Letter in her Hand c.1665
Right: Pieter de Hooch, The Courtyard of a House in Delft c.1658
Most of these artists are best known for the beautiful way they painted interior
light and shade. But another thing you notice is how good they were are creating
very believable textures, whether the silk of a dress, the suede of a chair
pillow or the hard wood of furniture.
There's a 10 minute discussion about the exhibition on You Tube :
You Tube hosts many interesting videos on these artists,
including Vermeer's Milk Maid.
The shop's not large, but full of everything an artist might
want: with floor to ceiling shelves, cupboards and drawers, all in a dark
To top it off though, and what makes that extra difference in any shop, is
the helpfulness and knowledge of the staff. Someone I can only assume was
Mr Cornelissen senior, took time to help and educate me on a number of
things I wanted to buy, including brushes, paint and medium. It's the
personal touch that has all but vanished in many places, and one of the
reasons I'll go back.
The shop is on Great Russell Street, on your way to the British Museum :
It costs money, and there was a queue, but knowing the sorts of queues for the National Gallery's
Leonardo exhibition, one can't complain (it only took about 20 minutes to get in).
Inside, it really was very low lighting: dim, in fact. I was told that this was to protect the pieces, but
I'm not sure if this referred to the photographic pieces or the paintings. I thought it a
bit of a shame though. It was also quite busy (see: queue), which meant that seeing everything was a bit
trying on occasion. It was worth it though.
His style of painting is one of the attractions. He captures movement very well and his
brush strokes often take on an almost pastel stick quality, something unique to
him (he was also a master pastel artist). His sense of light and shade, especially from the
large rehearsal room windows or stage lights, was also masterful.
Photosculpture : Bullet Time in the 19th Century
The show was subtitled Picturing Movement and the theme was a comparison of the
art of Degas and the new art form of photography. A lot of the exhibition was devoted
to the display of historical artifacts related to both the still photograph and its
successors. Not just the moving image but such things as the photo-sculpture, a
form of photography that involved taking dozens of simultaneous pictures, with cameras
arranged in a circle around the subject. I was very surprised to see this technique over a hundred
years before The Matrix!
A good show. I just wish that they a) turned the lights up a bit and b) allowed (non-flash)
As is often the case, Wikipedia has a good page on Degas.
is the term used in Egyptology and Papyrology for plastered layers
of fibre or papyrus, flexible enough for moulding while wet against the
irregular surfaces of the body
I saw this at the British Museum the other week. It's very striking.
"During the Roman Period in Egypt, the tradition of
providing an eternal image of the deceased over the head
of the mummy was maintained in a variety of forms, including
panel-portraits, paintings on shrouds, cartonnage masks and moulded
Painted lime plaster mask and skull of a man. Roman period
about AD 100-170 from Hu (Diospolis Parva).
Jonathan Briggs - Cloudy day on the Downs, Beddingham Hill
I've been to quite a few shows in many big museums and
galleries this year, but easily forget that
there are a lot more smaller, private galleries around,
often with very interesting and
appealing art in them. If I have time, I've made a special effort to pop in if I pass one, if
it doesn't look too intimidating.
A few months ago I had a great look around the Francis Kyle
gallery. The exhibition was called This Twittering World and featured art inspired by T.S. Elliot's
Passing by, I saw something
amazing through the window and had to have a look. The two staff that showed me around some of it (including
paintings not on display) were wonderful. This sort of thing does not happen at the National Gallery, or any of the larger
galleries in general.
In the end though, the artist that struck me most here was Jonathan Briggs. Beautiful and serene paintings of idyllic English landscapes. I love these. I would love to own one.
At the weekend, I looked at the Winter Collective exhibition at the gallery Different
in Percy Street.
Like the Francis Kyle visit, it was the sight of very arresting paintings that drew me in, in this case the large and unsettling
oil paintings by Johan Andersson.
These are very well executed but not something I would
hang on my wall in general. Apart from the subject matter
being dark and disturbing, they're very large. The oil painting is beautifully
done however and I cannot complain too much because the subject matter
(stumps, scars and acid victim) is not far removed
from some of my own dabblings many years ago.
One thing you do start to notice is how much each individual work goes for. From a a few hundred (small, screen print style) to many thousands. If paper money starts to seriously lose its store of value, then many people see art as an alternative investment. Maybe wisely.