FACING THE MODERN: THE PORTRAIT IN VIENNA 1900, The National Gallery (Sainsbury Wing)

FACING THE MODERN: THE PORTRAIT IN VIENNA 1900, The National Gallery (Sainsbury Wing) until 12 January 2014

If you have not yet been to see this exhibition there is still time to get there.  It celebrates the portrait which was one of the key elements in Viennese fin-de-siècle art. 

Portrait of Hermine Gallia Gustav Klimt 1904 The National Gallery, London

Portrait of Hermine Gallia
Gustav Klimt
1904
The National Gallery, London

Artists, whether well-known like, Egon Schiele, Arnold Schönberg and Gustav Klimt or the less well-known such as Isidor Kaufmann and Broncia Koller were producing the pictures that were commissioned by their patrons.  Many of these were wealthy middle-class people who had moved to Vienna after the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867.  They were drawn from a variety of cultures and faiths in a time of economic prosperity and tolerance although by the end the latter was disappearing under a new wave of nationalism and anti-Semitism.

Self Portrait in his Study Carl Moll 1906 Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna

Self Portrait in his Study
Carl Moll
1906
Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna

One room shows the interest in mortality and its depiction whether through death masks or paintings, which to us may be surprising but at the time was an expression of love and affection.  Many of you will have read Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes and he has loaned a photograph album of his family who were a Jewish banking dynasty based in Vienna and which gives a great insight into the times.

Death Mask of Egon Schiele 1918 Wien Museum, Vienna

Death Mask of Egon Schiele
1918
Wien Museum, Vienna

The tradition of people wishing to record their families in pictures by artists still carries on even today in London through galleries such as Fine Art Commissions.

Do go if you can!

Ria Munk on her Deathbed Gustav Klimt 1912 Private Collection Courtesy Richard Nagy Ltd., London

Ria Munk on her Deathbed
Gustav Klimt
1912
Private Collection Courtesy Richard Nagy Ltd., London

Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War

 Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War

Terrace Rooms, Somerset House, London, until 26th January 2014

 

 Stanley Spencer -15

I am sure that many of you know the work of Stanley Spencer and his great role in figurative art in 20th century Britain.  The works in this exhibition are part of the decorative scheme that Spencer painted for the Sandham Memorial Chapel that was built by John Louis and Mary Behrend to contain what they considered his ‘castle in the sky’ and in recognition of his great artistic skills.  The paintings were created over six years and the interior decorative scheme of the chapel was inspired by the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua which had been painted by Giotto.  The chapel was later dedicated to the memory of Harry Sandham, Mary Behrend’s brother, who died of an illness first contracted when he was fighting in Salonika during the First World War.

Stanley Spencer -25 

The paintings are not of fighting but are, as Spencer himself said of them, a symphony of rashers of bacon’, a ‘tea-making obligato’, a depiction of life that signified a heaven in a hell of war.’   They are superbly powerful and the menial tasks of daily life mixed with personal and unexpected details are a perfect metaphor for the idea of reconciliation.  He depicts the figures in a Mannerist way and uses a sensitive palate throughout.  Note too the still-life elements of the works.  They reflect, from memory, Spencer’s own experiences as a hospital orderly in Bristol and later when he was posted as a soldier to the front in Salonika.

Stanley Spencer -21 

As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the Great War these paintings serve not only as symbol of that horrific conflict but also reflect that in our own time troops in Afghanistan perform similar daily rituals.  The chores of war vary little over a century.  Hope for peace and reconciliation however lives on

 Stanley Spencer -26

The exhibition comes, courtesy of the National Trust, while work is being carried out on the chapel itself.  It will go on to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester from mid-February until June 2014.

 Stanley Spencer -16

I will leave the last word to Spencer himself because in my opinion they achieve all that he states and have the power to move the viewer profoundly.  He wrote to his patron, Mary Behrend, on October 3rd 1932 “I would not dream of asking you to concede to such a request … & in one way it is against my best feelings … but I think the arched & predella pictures arranged (without frames) round a gallery would be impressive ….they would blow the ‘Gallery’ atmosphere to the four corners of the heavens.” Tate archive (TGA 882.4)

 Stanley Spencer -18

Images are copyright – Sam Roberts

CHRISTMAS GOOD WISHES AND A THANK YOU

Minton jardinieres - front

Just to say how much I appreciate your reading, following, liking and commenting on my blogs.  It is most encouraging.  There is plenty more to come soon!

Have a Merry Christmas and a great 2014

Minton jardinieres - reverse

The images are of a pair of Minton jardinières decorated by Eduard Rischgitz who later went on to teach art to among others Princess Ena, who later became Queen of Spain as well as her brother Prince Alexander.  He also instructed Prince Christian and the Princesses Victoria and Louise of Schleswig-Holstein. A stylish combination of the Fine and Decorative Arts.

The Art of Speed at The Gallery, 54 Shepherd Market, London W1

The Art of Speed,  23rd December – 5th January, The Gallery, 54 Shepherd Market, London W1J 7QX.

1954 Spanish Grand Prix

1954 Spanish Grand Prix

This exhibition (closed 24th-26th December) is organised by William Lansbury and features motor racing posters and some interesting motor racing photographs from the 1950s.  The perfect place to go and browse while your partner does the sales!  Yes, you can buy as well.

Jack Fairman Goodwood 1957

Jack Fairman Goodwood 1957

For opening hours email: info@theartofspeed.co.uk

Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix

  www.theartofspeed.co.uk

Cooper Climax. Goodwood 1959

Cooper Climax. Goodwood 1959

Donington

Donington

BOOK REVIEW: JACQUES GARCIA TWENTY YEARS OF PASSION Château du Champ de Bataille

JACQUES GARCIA

TWENTY YEARS OF PASSION

Château du Champ de Bataille

Alain Stella

Photography by Eric Sander

400 pages • 450 colour illustrations

Hardcover

ISBN 978-2-08-020169-0

£80.00

Jacques Garcia_Final Cover

This book is certainly one that tells the story of Jacques Garcia‘s passion and dedication to bring this beautiful château back to life.  He was first taken to see it at the age of twelve by his father and in 1992 when he learnt that it was for sale he seized the opportunity to acquire it.

One of the château‘s highly innovative central pavilions. The pediment is carved with a military trophy. On the upper floor, superimposed windows reveal the former salon à l’italienne within, as later found at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The balcony and its four columns were added by the Duke of Beuvron in the eighteenth century.

One of the château‘s highly innovative central pavilions. The pediment is carved with a military trophy. On the upper floor, superimposed windows reveal the former salon à l’italienne within, as later found at Vaux-le-Vicomte. The balcony and its four columns were added by the Duke of Beuvron in the eighteenth century.

He discovered the building in a dilapidated state but over the last two decades has bought the 17th and late 18th century elements of the building back to life.

In the drawing room, Garcia sought to evoke the sentiment conveyed in Talleyrand’s famous words: “No one who did not live through the last years of the Ancien Régime can ever know how sweet life can be.” Contrary to popular belief, aristocratic salons of that era were crowded with objects and furniture. The wealthier the owner the more valuable these would be. Here the seating, ornaments, Sèvres vases, carpet, guéridons, small tables, paintings, and musical instruments form a lavish setting characteristic of the closing years of the Ancien Régime.

In the drawing room, Garcia sought to evoke the sentiment conveyed in Talleyrand’s famous words: “No one who did not live through the last years of the Ancien Régime can ever know how sweet life can be.” Contrary to popular belief, aristocratic salons of that era were crowded with objects and furniture. The wealthier the owner the more valuable these would be. Here the seating, ornaments, Sèvres vases, carpet, guéridons, small tables, paintings, and musical instruments form a lavish setting characteristic of the closing years of the Ancien Régime.

His skill and fame as an interior decorator is justly deserved and is very well displayed in the ravishing rooms of  Château du Champ de Bataille.  Furnishing the interiors with French royal furniture, Sèvres porcelain, including an armorial service made for an English family, silver, diverse works of art, sculpture and paintings.

In the great vestibule, now the formal dining room, the table is laid with eighteenth-century silver. A centerpiece by Henry Auguste, dated 1789, was dispatched to Russia in 1790.

In the great vestibule, now the formal dining room, the table is laid with eighteenth-century silver. A centerpiece by Henry Auguste, dated 1789, was dispatched to Russia in 1790.

: Each piece of the Sèvres service has a midnight-blue background and is decorated with birds from François Nicolas Martinet’s illustrations for Buffon’s Natural History of Birds. Each dish is framed with a thick band of gilding and floral motifs, in addition to the owner’s arms. The birds pictured are identified on the back of each piece. The service features 435 species, including the Louisiana starling, Italian solitary blackbird, Cayenne oriole, and long-tailed Senegal turtledove. Other marks indicate the year of production: 1792 or 1793.

Each piece of the Sèvres service has a midnight-blue background and is decorated with birds from François Nicolas Martinet’s illustrations for Buffon’s Natural History of Birds. Each dish is framed with a thick band of gilding and floral motifs, in addition to the owner’s arms. The birds pictured are identified on the back of each piece. The service features 435 species, including the Louisiana starling, Italian solitary blackbird, Cayenne oriole, and long-tailed Senegal turtledove. Other marks indicate the year of production: 1792 or 1793.

There is even a quirky cabinet of curiosities that evokes 19th century excess and there is a chapel that pays homage to the one at Versailles.

: Garcia’s cabinet of curiosities is likely influenced—at least in part—by a childhood spent roaming the Bourbon countryside with his grandfather Joseph, chasing butterflies and other insects, and collecting flowers and leaves. Garcia’s profound love of nature stems from his country upbringing; this spirit runs through the rooms, galleries, and staircases at Champ de Bataille.

Garcia’s cabinet of curiosities is likely influenced—at least in part—by a childhood spent roaming the Bourbon countryside with his grandfather Joseph, chasing butterflies and other insects, and collecting flowers and leaves. Garcia’s profound love of nature stems from his country upbringing; this spirit runs through the rooms, galleries, and staircases at Champ de Bataille.

But he did not just bring the house to life, he was also active in the creation of the gardens which are a beguiling mix of formality and fantasy, “peopled” with pavilions.

Garcia traveled to India every year for two decades, combing bazaars, meeting antique dealers, and bringing back wonderful creations. At once intimate and majestic, the Mogul Pavilion is the happy result. Every detail is authentic.

Garcia traveled to India every year for two decades, combing bazaars, meeting antique dealers, and bringing back wonderful creations. At once intimate and majestic, the Mogul Pavilion is the happy result. Every detail is authentic.

The chateau has become a popular attraction and one of the joys of this superbly illustrated book is that one is taken into areas not normally seen, such as the bedrooms.

The Apollo Salon. In this room, Garcia’s deep attachment to the seventeenth century is expressed through the spirit of two figures whose contribution to the decorative arts he holds in particular esteem: Cardinal Mazarin and Madame de Montespan. These two individuals cultivated their extravagant tastes in their respective residences: the Palais Royal and the Château de Clagny. Sharing her drawing room with a polar bear seemed the most natural thing in the world to Madame de Montespan. Mazarin, meanwhile, is said to have uttered his last words (“To think that I must leave all this…”) while being carried through his richly decorated home in a sedan chair. Ten years of work and the tireless quest for exceptional pieces enabled Garcia to recreate an authentic, classical-inspired decorative folly characteristic of the Grand Siècle.

The Apollo Salon. In this room, Garcia’s deep attachment to the seventeenth century is expressed through the spirit of two figures whose contribution to the decorative arts he holds in particular esteem: Cardinal Mazarin and Madame de Montespan. These two individuals cultivated their extravagant tastes in their respective residences: the Palais Royal and the Château de Clagny. Sharing her drawing room with a polar bear seemed the most natural thing in the world to Madame de Montespan. Mazarin, meanwhile, is said to have uttered his last words (“To think that I must leave all this…”) while being carried through his richly decorated home in a sedan chair. Ten years of work and the tireless quest for exceptional pieces enabled Garcia to recreate an authentic, classical-inspired decorative folly characteristic of the Grand Siècle.

This is a book with a very wide appeal to lovers of historic buildings, gardens and most of all the fine and decorative arts of France.  It is one book that all should have as it will bring great pleasure every time one looks through it.  We owe Jacques Garcia a debt of gratitude for his passion and energy in achieving this miracle.

The great vista of the grand axis encompasses the full scope of the gardens, with the measured classicism of the central perspective flanked by secret follies on either side.

The great vista of the grand axis encompasses the full scope of the gardens, with the measured classicism of the central perspective flanked by secret follies on either side.

The first of the great water features at Champ de Bataille, this fountain is embellished with a sphere that is a masterpiece of wrought ironwork. The gilded dolphins surrounding it correspond to the third stage in the garden’s symbolic program: the animal realm

The first of the great water features at Champ de Bataille, this fountain is embellished with a sphere that is a masterpiece of wrought ironwork. The gilded dolphins surrounding it correspond to the third stage in the garden’s symbolic program: the animal realm

SOVIET ART – SOVIET SPORT at Sotheby’s, London,

 

SOVIET ART SOVIET SPORTA PIONEERING EXHIBITION OF SOVIET ART  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE INSTITUTE OF RUSSIAN REALIST ART, MOSCOW

Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London, 19th – 21st December 2013, 2nd – 14th January 2014

Sergey A. Luchishkin (1902–1989) Parade at the Dynamo Stadium. 1936–1976 Oil on canvas. 70 by 103.5 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Sergey A. Luchishkin (1902–1989)
Parade at the Dynamo Stadium. 1936–1976
Oil on canvas. 70 by 103.5 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

This striking exhibition is presented by Sotheby’s, The Institute of Russian Realist Art and PromSvyazBank and consists of thirty five paintings, drawings and sculptures from the Institute’s collections.

Olga P. Vaulina (1902–1996) In a sports hall. 1930s Oil on canvas. 132 by 101 сm The ‘New Gallery’ Art Foundation

Olga P. Vaulina (1902–1996)
In a sports hall. 1930s
Oil on canvas. 132 by 101 сm
The ‘New Gallery’ Art Foundation

Sport was one of the great symbols of post- Revolutionary Russian ideology and a perfect subject for Socialist Realist Art.  The dedication, strength, teamsmanship, and quest for glory found in those participating in sport perfectly reflected the State’s views. This was emphasised by the fact that over many decades the Soviet people woke up daily to appropriate music and instructions on gymnastic exercises.  If this were not enough when you got to work or school there were more gymnastics to be done before you started work.  Those aged between ten and sixty were required to participate in sporting activities and were subject to annual examinations on them.

Viktor E. Popkov (1932–1974) Volleyball. 1968 Oil on paper and fiberboard. 32.5 by 47 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Viktor E. Popkov (1932–1974)
Volleyball. 1968
Oil on paper and fiberboard. 32.5 by 47 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

In some ways it seems strange that the Soviet Government, like the Tsars before them, expected their chosen artists to paint in the manner and style that they wished rather than in the artist’s own individual style.  Indeed, it was a dangerous path to veer away from the figurative art glorifying Soviet philosophy of life and could result in an artist being arrested and exiled for what was considered counter-revolutionary activity, as for example actually happened to the artist Mikhail Sokolov.

Boris F. Domashnikov (1924–2003) The Stadium. 1970s Oil on cardboard. 50 by 34.8 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Boris F. Domashnikov (1924–2003)
The Stadium. 1970s
Oil on cardboard. 50 by 34.8 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

Paradoxically in sporting art a little leeway was allowed and one comes across elements of Impressionism and avant-garde in some works.  Indeed, it made sport a popular subject for some artists. One leading Soviet era artist Alexander Deyneka summed it up saying “Sport has one wonderful feature: it can safely fit into a very wide variety of artistic frameworks. This subject is inexhaustible because it is democratic and popular. Sport accommodates within itself shades of feeling – it is lyrical, it is positive and full of optimism. It draws on heroic origins.”

Alexander A. Deyneka (1899–1969) Sports woman tying a ribbon. 1950s Charcoal and sanguine on paper . 99 by 79 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Alexander A. Deyneka (1899–1969)
Sports woman tying a ribbon. 1950s
Charcoal and sanguine on paper . 99 by 79 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

This show provides a rare chance to see Soviet Art in the UK and provides a fascinating glimpse into the Soviet era and way of  life.

Olga P. Vaulina (1902–1996) Wrestling 1930s Oil on canvas. 112.5 by 88.5 сm The ‘New Gallery’ Art Foundation

Olga P. Vaulina (1902–1996)
Wrestling 1930s
Oil on canvas. 112.5 by 88.5 сm
The ‘New Gallery’ Art Foundation

http://www.sothebys.com

Viktor E. Popkov (1932–1974) At the Weekend. 1958 Colour linocut on paper. 49.7 by 83 сm Property of the artist’s family

Viktor E. Popkov (1932–1974)
At the Weekend. 1958
Colour linocut on paper. 49.7 by 83 сm
Property of the artist’s family

Mikhail N. Izotov (born 1956) Gymnasts . Portrait of Vladimir Artemov and Yury Korolyov 1987 Oil on canvas. 175.5 by 149 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Mikhail N. Izotov (born 1956)
Gymnasts . Portrait of Vladimir Artemov and Yury Korolyov
1987
Oil on canvas. 175.5 by 149 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

Andrey N. Bliok (born 1946) Fest ival of the North in Kirovsk . 1972 Tempera on canvas. 60 by 80.2 сm Institute of Russian Realist Art

Andrey N. Bliok (born 1946)
Fest ival of the North in Kirovsk . 1972
Tempera on canvas. 60 by 80.2 сm
Institute of Russian Realist Art

BOOK REVIEW: BACCARAT 1764 – TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS

BACCARAT 1764

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS

Text by Murray Moss and Laurence Benaïm

Rizzoli New York, £55.00

BACCARAT_cover

This book is a celebration of the prestigious French firm of Baccarat, surely one of the most well-known and celebrated glassmakers in the world, and marks the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its establishment at the command of Louis XV.

Pair of flasks from the “Malmaison” service made for HSH Prince Rainier and HSH Princess Grace of Monaco, 1956. In honor of the marriage of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III, the manufactory reissued this pair of flasks in 1956. They were originally from the “Malmaison” service, cerated in 1913. These Empire-style flasks are gilded with fine gold and decorated with the newlyweds’ monograms.

Pair of flasks from the “Malmaison” service made for HSH Prince Rainier and HSH Princess Grace of Monaco, 1956. In honor of the marriage of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III, the manufactory reissued this pair of flasks in 1956. They were originally from the “Malmaison” service, cerated in 1913. These Empire-style flasks are gilded with fine gold and decorated with the newlyweds’ monograms.

Ever since Louis XVIII ordered a service of glassware in 1823, monarchs, heads of state, Maharajahs and lesser mortals have patronised the firm.  Baccarat has supplied, and in some cases still does, glassware to Russia, the Middle East, India and the Far East, the Americas and, of course, Europe.  Queen Elizabeth II has received gifts commissioned from the firm, including a carafe, shaped like a diamond, that was presented to her in 2012 by John Walker.

“Spirale” vase, numbered, limited edition of five hundred, Thomas Bastide, 2004.

“Spirale” vase, numbered, limited edition of five hundred, Thomas Bastide, 2004.

The book’s illustrations show not only elements of the glass making process (making, cutting, engraving and gilding) but more importantly the products created; chandeliers, wine goblets, vases, perfume bottles, jewellery, even furniture.  A glittering, sparkling story peopled with royalty, stars and the rich but the real glamour in this book is provided by the designs and products of Maison Baccarat itself.  A truly great way to celebrate its 250th anniversary.

“Caliph’s Staircase” monumental chandelier, Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, c. 1870. In the mid-nineteenth century, Sultan Abdülmecid began the construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace in Constantinople in order to showcase the modernity and wealth of his Ottoman Empire. Sultan Abdülaziz commissioned from Baccarat a large number of monumental chandeliers in clear and red crystal enhanced with gold, which are particularly remarkable for their bobèches in the form of stylized tulips,  the symbol of the Turkish Empire. The chandeliers were intended to furnish the Dolmabahçe Palace from the entry hall to the Blue Hall, passing by the “Caliph’s Staircase” to arrive at the Red Chamber, the  ceremonial room of the Harem.

“Caliph’s Staircase” monumental chandelier, Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, c. 1870. In the mid-nineteenth century, Sultan Abdülmecid began the construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace in Constantinople in order to showcase the modernity and wealth of his Ottoman Empire. Sultan Abdülaziz commissioned from Baccarat a large number of monumental chandeliers in clear and red crystal enhanced with gold, which are particularly remarkable for their bobèches in the form of stylized tulips, the symbol of the Turkish Empire. The chandeliers were intended to furnish the Dolmabahçe Palace from the entry hall to the Blue Hall, passing by the “Caliph’s Staircase” to arrive at the Red Chamber, the ceremonial room of the Harem.

ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT