Royal Gifts

Royal Gifts – the Summer Opening of the State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, until 1st October 2017

Australian State Coach
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017. Photographer: David Cripps

From the moment you arrive at the Grand Entrance and espy the Australian State Coach, a gift to Her Majesty in 1988 from the people of Australia to mark the Australian Bicentenary, you know you are in for something rather exciting. Indeed many of the State Rooms are transformed by special displays of over two hundred gifts that have been presented to The Queen in the sixty-five years of her reign.

‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

You will discover a remarkable cross section of items and every gift reflects the donor whether a town, organisation or country.  Each in its own way is uniquely special. I am not going to mention examples because it is something to be experienced in person. I found it all fascinating and engrossing in a way that I had not expected but will remember for a long time.

A Royal Collection Trust member of staff adjusts the Vessel of Friendship, a model of the ‘treasure ship’ sailed by the 15th-century Chinese navigator and diplomat Zeng He. The model was presented to Her Majesty by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China during the State Visit to Buckingham Palace in October 2015.
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

 

Members of Royal Collection Trust staff put the finishing touches to a display of gifts from around the United Kingdom as part of ‘Royal Gifts’, the special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

In the Music Room is a charming display to mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Many of the objects and mementos on and around her desk from her Sitting Room in Kensington Palace were chosen by the The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

A tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales in the Music Room, one of the State Rooms open to the public as part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace. The centrepiece of the display is the desk at which The Princess worked in her sitting room at Kensington Palace, writing letters and reading official briefings and correspondence.
Credit: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

www.royalcollection.org.uk

‘Op Art’

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney, until 1st October 2017

Blaze IV,
Bridget Riley,
© UK Government Art Collection © Bridget Riley 2017. All rights reserved

Regular readers of my blog may recall that in October 2015 I posted about a small but enjoyable exhibition Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery and now in this large-scale show at Compton Verney this debt is re-visited and much expanded upon.

La Luzerne, Saint-Denis,
Georges Seurat,
© Scottish National Gallery

It reminds us that since the 19th century some artists have been fascinated by the way in which the eye sees optical illusions as it responds to visual stimuli and this point is well proven in this exhibition. Ninety diverse ‘Op Art’ works are featured in the show, including pieces by Victor Vasarely, Julio Le Parc, Jeffrey Steele, Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Peter Sedgley, Liliane Lijn and, of course, Bridget Riley and Seurat.

Our Spectral Vision,2016,
Liz West.
Photo (c) Hannah Devereux

Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney sums it up: “Optical Art explores a range of effects and emotions, using complex geometry and advanced mathematics to communicate with the viewer in a way that is simultaneously mentally challenging and visually appealing. This wonderful exhibition demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op Art can be.”

The show is curated by Penelope Sexton and Dr Frances Follin and appropriately enough supported by Farrow & Ball.

Pulse 05,
White Earthenware, Underglaze colour, matt glaze, 2012.
Sara Moorhouse,
(c) Sara Moorhouse

http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

Urge Westminster City Council to act now! Please read the article below:

Churchill Ward Labour Councillors Jason Williams and Shamim Talukder have called for Westminster Council Leader Cllr Nickie Aiken to step in and provide reassurances for residents of Ebury Bridge Estate on plans for the estate. At a meeting in June 2017 Cllr Aiken tore up plans for the estate after admitting that developers did not see the Council’s plans […]

via Churchill Labour Councillors call on Westminster Council for reassurances on Ebury Bridge Regeneration — labourwestminster

The Encounter!

THE ENCOUNTER: DRAWINGS FROM LEONARDO TO REMBRANDT, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 22nd October 2017

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

Giulio Pedrizzano, The Lutenist Mascheroni by Annibale Carracci c.1593-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This delightful exhibition features old master European portrait drawings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Durer and Rembrandt, many rarely seen and some not displayed for decades.

Young Woman in a French Hood, possibly Mary Zouch by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1533
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

It attempts to show that the artist and the sitter connected and is rather like going through a Renaissance copy of Vanity Fair featuring as it does eight portraits of people from the court of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger – the David Bailey of his day – but also people from the street as well.

Sir John Godsalve by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

An exhibition which cheers the soul with these close encounters.

A sheet of figure studies, with male heads and three sketches of a woman with a child by Rembrandt van Rijn c.1636
Copyright: The Henry Barber Trust, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

 

http://www.npg.org.uk/

Alma-Tadema – a footnote

Alma-Tadema – a footnote

 

Johnstone, Jupe & Co., London
“Jupe’s Patent” Extending Dining Table
c. 1839
Mahogany
Apter–Fredericks Ltd., London

There is an exhibition at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts entitled “Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and the Marquand Music Room.” The American industrialist Henry Gurdon Marquand asked Alma-Tadema in 1884 to design a Music Room for his Madison Avenue mansion in New York. The favoured style was Greco-Pompeian and Alma-Tadema skill’s as a designer were well displayed in the room. The furniture he designed, including a grand piano with matching stools, were made in London by Johnstone, Norman & Co.

Johnstone, Jupe & Co., London
“Jupe’s Patent” Extending Dining Table
c. 1839
Mahogany
Apter–Fredericks Ltd., London

The celebrated London antique furniture firm Apter-Fredericks were approached by the Clark’s decorative arts curator and acting senior curator Kathleen Morris who asked whether they had an example of the expanding telescoping patented dining tables which Johnstone’s, in their various business partnerships, were renowned for making? Fortunately Apter -Fredericks were able to help and the table is on loan until the exhibition ends on 4th September 2017.

Johnstone, Jupe & Co., London
“Jupe’s Patent” Extending Dining Table
c. 1839
Mahogany
Apter–Fredericks Ltd., London

 

clarkart.edu

https://apter-fredericks.com/

 

Alma-Tadema!

Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14,, until 29th October 2017

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Finding of Moses, 1904. © Private Collection

Unbelievably for such a well-known artist, this is the first exhibition of the works of Alma-Tadema in London since 1913. He was a great friend of Lord Leighton and will of course have visited the House which makes the placing of the exhibition here most fitting.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Self-Portrait of Lourens Alma Tadema, 1852.
© Fries Museum, Collection Royal Frisian Society

A visit to Pompeii on his honeymoon inspired Alma-Tadema to depict carefully researched scenes of life in Ancient Rome which reminded me very much of scenes from the very popular spectacular epic films of the fifties and sixties such as Quo Vadis?, The Ten Commandments, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur and apparently Alma-Tadema had been an inspiration for some of the filmmakers even as late as Gladiator. Indeed many of his paintings are amazingly in the CinemaScope ratio!

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
A Pyrrhic Dance, 1869.
© Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

There are photographs, artefacts and drawings and paintings from his two houses, one close to the Regent’s Canal and the other in Grove End Road whose exterior remains largely unchanged.  There is also a selection of the panels painted by Alma-Tadema’s artist friends including Lord Leighton which hung in Alma-Tadema’s house and which are reunited for this exhibition. The Studio will also house the portrait of Leopold Lowenstam a friend of Alma-Tadema which was rediscovered on the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 and is on public display for the first time.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Coign of Vantage, 1895.
© Ann and Gordon Getty

The exhibition is a wonderful journey through Alma-Tadema’s work displayed in a beautiful and atmospheric setting.

 

 

http://www.leightonhouse.co.uk

 

Sublime joy!

Raphael: The Drawings, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 3rd September 2017

Study for Adam in the Disputa, c. 1508–10
Chalk and/or charcoal with white heightening, 35.7 x 21.2 cm
© Gallerie degli Uffizi, Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe, Florence

Did you know that the Ashmolean’s fifty Raphael drawings are the most significant group in the world? They have been supplemented by a further twenty-five from Vienna’s Albertina Museum and the rest of the total group of one hundred and twenty drawings come from international collections. The result is an absolutely stunningly memorable exhibition which is a joy to visit.

Study for the Massacre of the Innocents, c. 1509–10
Pen and brown ink over red chalk and geometrical indications in stylus, selectively pricked for transfer, 23.2 x
37.7 cm
© Trustees of the British Museum

Raphael (1483 – 1520) has long held the reputation of being the pre-eminent artist of the Renaissance and through these drawings which take us from the early days in Umbria to Florence and then on to Rome where he was at his very best we can see why.

Study for Charity, c. 1519
Black chalk with very few touches of white heightening, 31.3 x 15.2 cm
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The exhibition also reminded me why I am always attracted to drawings since they allow glimpses into the mind and vision of the artist – ideas that both intrigue and excite – but which may not always be translated into the finished work.  Please, please make every effort to see this show.  The Museum’s director Dr Xa Sturgis says: ‘The generosity of lenders and supporters has enabled us to give people a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity – that of experiencing the visual and emotive power of Raphael’s hand, and of understanding Raphael’s genius.’

 

Studies of heads and hands, and sketches after Leonardo, c. 1505–7
Metalpoint with white heightening, partially oxidised, on white prepared paper, 21 x 27.4 cm
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

www.ashmolean.org

The heads and hands of two apostles, c. 1519–20
Black chalk with over-pounced underdrawing with some white heightening, 49.9 x 36.4 cm
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford