Jane Austen’s Portraits

The Mysterious Miss Austen, The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street
Winchester, until 24th July, 2017

Jane Austen by James Andrews, watercolour, 1869
(c) Private collection, courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, Stevenson, Maryland.

I had of course known about Jane Austen for many years but had not actually read one of her novels until I was in my early twenties and found out what an absolute delight they are. I knew something of her life (I just passed where she stayed in Covent Garden’s Henrietta Street this morning) but it was a real delight to come and see this exhibition which marks the two hundredth anniversary of her death and which not only brings together five portraits of her under the same roof for the first time, but includes letters, items of clothing and a manuscript alternative ending to her final novel Persuasion, which was not used in the end. There are also items from both an English and an American private collection which bring the story up-to-date and the rather fine ceramic vase Jane Austen in E 17 by Grayson Perry has been loaned as well.

Installation view:
Jane Austen Pelisse coat

I found it unexpectedly moving and although as the exhibition’s title suggests she does remain somewhat mysterious I felt I had at least encountered her. It was therefore wholly appropriate to pay my respects as I bowed my head to read the inscription on the tablet set into the floor of the north aisle in nearby Winchester Cathedral, commemorating her life and burial there.

Jane Austen ledgerstone – Winchester Cathedral by John Crook

https://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/the-gallery-at-winchester-discovery-centre

Installation View:
Jane Austen portraits display

‘Designing the Future’

Giacomo Balla: Designing the Future, Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1, until 25th June 2017

Giacomo Balla
Iridescent Interpenetrations, 1913
Watercolour on paper, 24 x 18 cm
Courtesy The Biagiotti Cigna Foundation

This special show focuses on Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) a self-taught artist who was one of the founding figures of the Futurist movement but in 1937 moved away from its mainstream. The 116 works on show come from the Biagiotti Cigna Collection and give a full picture of Balla’s work which included furniture and clothing design

Giacomo Balla
Expansion of Spring, 1918
Oil on board, 45 x 55 cm
Courtesy The Biagiotti Cigna Foundation

 

Giacomo Balla
Lines of Force of an Enamelled Landscape, 1917-18
Oil and enamel on paper, 41 x 56 cm
Courtesy The Biagiotti Cigna Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.estorickcollection.com

Der Rosenkavalier

Harmony and Opulence: Erté and Der Rosenkavalier, Bonhams London, 101 New Bond Street, London W1, 22nd – 26th May 2017

Presentation of the Rose. Der Rosenkavalier, Act II

Featuring ninety set and costume designs for the famous 1980 Glyndebourne Opera production of Der Rosenkavalier this is a must for lovers of opera and the Russian artist Erté.

http://www.bonhams.com

Vintage Beaton!

Cecil Beaton, Beetles+Huxley, 3-5 Swallow Street, London W1, until 20th May 2017

Mrs Harrison Williams, Later Mona Countess of Bismark, c. 1935
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley

It would be remiss of me not to bring this exhibition of more than eighty Cecil Beaton photographs to your attention.  They cover the early part of his career from the 1920s to the 1940s.  Originally purchased in the early 50s these photographs have been in an American private collection for over sixty years.

Tyneside Shipyard, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1943
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley.

You will discover  the ‘Bright Young Things’ of the 20s, distinctive fashion pictures created for Vogue in the 30s, and wartime works for the Ministry of Works in the 2nd World War with Vivien Leigh, Queen Elizabeth consort of George VI), H G Wells and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day among the portraits on view.

Self Portrait in a Carriage, 1930s
(c) Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Archive. Image courtesy of Beetles+Huxley.

http://www.beetlesandhuxley.com

London Fashion Month – celebrated!

Those of you walking past the large railway arch window of the retail design agency gpstudio at 74 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 will most likely have had your attention drawn by the remarkable decoration painted on it.

It is the work of the fashion illustrator Jacqueline Bissett who was approached by gpstudio to illustrate her take on what she had seen at some of the London Fashion Week Shows – think House of Holland, Armani, Bottega Veneta and Havva!

gpstudio’s Gregor Jackson said: ‘Fashion illustrator and artist Jaqueline Bissett’s painting on our Arch Window has blown us away and attracted much attention. As an artist Jacqueline is a perfect match for us bridging fashion, art and retail. We were thrilled to have her paint live at gpstudio for Fashion Month.’

 

You will be able to see it until 14th April 2017.

 

http://www.jacquelinebissett.com/

gpstudio.uk.com

Meet the Breugels!

Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 4th June 2017

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wedding Dance in the Open Air, Oil on panel, 36.6 x 49cm, ©Holburne Museum. Photography by Dominic Brown

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Wedding Dance in the Open Air,
Oil on panel, 36.6 x 49cm,
©Holburne Museum. Photography by Dominic Brown

This is a very special show for it reveals the Holburne’s Wedding Dance in the Open Air, following conservation and technical examination, to be by Pieter Brueghel the Younger and not as previously thought a work by a follower. Congratulations are due to their then Director Jennifer Scott (who is now Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery) who discovered it in the Museum’s store room and who co-curated this exhibition with Dr Amy Orrock.

Jan Brueghel the Elder, A Stoneware Vase of Flowers, c. 1607–1608, oil on panel, 56 × 89.5 cm, © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridg

Jan Brueghel the Elder, A Stoneware Vase of Flowers, c. 1607–1608,
oil on panel, 56 × 89.5 cm,
© The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Visitors when they enter the exhibition can see a Bruegel family tree and the exhibition reveals the work of the family across four generations through thirty-five pictures drawn from the National Gallery, the Royal Collection Trust, the National Trust, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.  The Holburne Museum with its three works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger holds the largest collection of his paintings in the UK.

Still Life with Cheese, circle of Jan Van Kessel II, c. 1650 Oil on copper, 16.5 x 20.3cm, © Holburne Museum

Still Life with Cheese, circle of Jan Van Kessel II, c. 1650
Oil on copper, 16.5 x 20.3cm,
© Holburne Museum

The exhibition starts with the Adoration of the Kings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (note he did not spell his name with an h) which hangs alongside a similarly entitled work by his father-in-law Pieter Coecke van Aelst. It makes an interesting comparison. Bruegel’s sons Pieter and Jan and their descendants such as Jan van Kessel the Elder or David Teniers the Younger who married into the family are eloquently represented.

David Teniers the Younger, Boy Blowing Bubbles, c.1640, Oil on panel, 22 x 22cm, © Holburne Museum

David Teniers the Younger, Boy Blowing Bubbles, c.1640,
Oil on panel, 22 x 22cm,
© Holburne Museum

It is interesting to see how Pieter and Jan produced copies of their father’s compositions and variations of them.  Jan could arguably be said to be the first to have depicted floral studies in a style which continues to this day. This is an exhibition that celebrates Flemish painting and this prolific family whose works have not lost their appeal over the centuries.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Visit to a Farmhouse, c.1620-30, Oil on panel, 36.5 x 49.4cm, © Holburne Museum. Photograph by Dan Brown

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Visit to a Farmhouse, c.1620-30,
Oil on panel, 36.5 x 49.4cm,
© Holburne Museum. Photograph by Dan Brown

http://www.holburne.org

Emma Revisited!

Emma Hamilton: Seduction and Celebrity (REVISITED), National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE 10, until 17th April 2017

'Emma as the spinstress' by George Romney, 1784-85 ® Kenwood, English Heritage

‘Emma as the spinstress’ by George Romney, 1784-85
® Kenwood, English Heritage

I know that I only wrote about this exhibition on January 6th but I so, so liked it that I returned to see it again the other weekend AND I enjoyed it even more. Obviously I must be a bit of an Emma Hamilton “groupie” – and I make no apologies for it!

The exhibition provides not only a close-up view of one of history’s great love affairs but also gives an insight into the times that Hamilton and Nelson lived in.  It’s an engrossing journey into the past and I count myself fortunate that I have been able to immerse myself into this fascinating story twice.

'Britannia crowning the Bust of our late Hero Lord Nelson', 1805 by Thomas Baxter ® National Maritime Museum, London

‘Britannia crowning the Bust of our late Hero Lord Nelson’, 1805 by Thomas Baxter
® National Maritime Museum, London

Please, please don’t miss this show because it will no doubt be a long time before such an exhibition on this scale will be put on.

 

 

http://www.rmg.co.uk/emmahamilton

BOOK REVIEW: Brigitte Bardot: My Life in Fashion

I have asked John Kirkwood to review this book:

Brigitte Bardot: My Life in Fashion  

Henry-Jean Servat, Brigitte Bardot

Publisher: Flammarion
ISBN: 978-2080202697
£29.95

brigittebardotmylifeinfashion_cover-2

It may seem slightly odd to bring out a book about fashions worn by an actress who was well known for wearing no clothes at all on screen.

 

Bardot says that le style Bardot is her style which is to say that there is no style at all as she wears what she feels like at the moment. However, it was impossible in the late fifties and early sixties not to see girls who were clearly influenced by her on almost every high street. The gingham dress or Breton sweaters and jeans crowned by the disarranged ‘choucroute’ hairstyle piled on top.

Bardot never really followed fashion, she was a complete individualist and in so being created a look which became her style. For some of her films she was dressed by Givenchy, Dior, Chanel, Balmain and Cardin but in her private life wore designs by the House of Real and Jacques Esterel who made the famous pink gingham dress which was copied everywhere. In the seventies she was very enamoured of the gypsy cum hippie look of Jean Bouquin.  At one time she went to Coco Chanel because she so admired the Chanel dress worn by Delphine Seyrig in Last Year In Marienbad and wanted one like it. In one of her best roles in La Verité she wore clothes which she herself had bought from Monoprix, the French version of Woolworths and in other films would quite often wear clothes from her own wardrobe.

As a long term practioner of ‘Bardolatry’ I found this to be a very well-constructed book which takes us through the evolution of Bardot’s non-style with many wonderful images which still remain fresh today.

Now in her eighties and devoted to her Foundation which benefits animals Bardot when asked about her style today says ‘I don’t dress up anymore!’

 

http://editions.flammarion.com/

This January two fairs, one venue:

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th-29th January 2017  

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs - Adam Calvert Bentley

Pair of Louis XV Painted Bergere Armchairs – Adam Calvert Bentley

While I am sure that many of you will already know about this exciting regular event I always feel that it is worth reminding you that it is on.  It is a magnet for homemakers, antique collectors and, of course, interior decorators. It is the sort of fair where you find the absolutely perfect thing – which you didn’t realise you wanted until you see it.  Happy purchasing!

 

Wax Seal Tea Caddy - Adam Calvert Bentley

Wax Seal Tea Caddy – Adam Calvert Bentley

http://www.decorativefair.com

 

London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair, Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London SW11, 24th -29th January 2017 

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan Brian Macdonald

19th Century Kurdish rug from Sauj Bolaq, Kurdistan
Brian Macdonald

In this welcome move the LARTA Fair moves to the mezzanine floor at Battersea Evolution and makes the perfect combination with the Decorative Fair downstairs.  Visitors will find a good range of collectable decorative rugs, carpets, tapestries, suzanis and embroideries and other textiles. Now that it will be a bigger event than usual there will also be some contemporary designs and a variety of tribal, Islamic and Asian artefacts, including jewellery as well. Don’t forget that the best pieces can be seen online in a ‘virtual fair’ which becomes live when the fair opens.

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground. Marilyn Garrow

An early 1800’s Epigonation (in Greek meaning “over the knee”) vestment, worked in silver gilt on a red velvet ground.
Marilyn Garrow

http://www.larta.net

 

BOOK REVIEW: Emma Hamilton Seduction & Celebrity

Emma Hamilton

Seduction & Celebrity

(In association with the Royal Museums Greenwich)

Edited by Quintin Colville with Kate Williams
ISBN 9780500252208
 £29.95

emma-hamilton-jacket

It would have been totally wrong for me to have mentioned this beautifully illustrated book when I reviewed the marvellous exhibition ‘Emma Hamilton Seduction & Celebrity’ at the National Maritime Museum (6th January, 2017) since this book is equally as enjoyable and while complementing the exhibition it very definitely stands alone too.  It takes us into the world of Emma Hamilton (1765–1815) and reassesses her life and role and shows her cultural and social achievements.  I have always thought that if Emma could have gained the confidence and friendship of Naples’s Queen Maria Carolina, daughter of Maria Theresa, then there was obviously something more substantial than being just a temptress about her.

The contributors which also include Vic Gatrell, Hannah Greig, Jason Kelly, Margarette Lincoln, Christine Riding and Gillian Russell bring a fresh understanding of a woman who not only captured the heart of a great naval hero but has beguiled us ever since.

Porcelain lovers will also be interested to see the series of pictures of Emma’s beloved Merton Place done by Thomas Baxter who is also well known for the decoration of porcelain.

 

www.thamesandhudson.com