Enlightened Princesses

Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World, Kensington Palace, until November 2017

Queen Caroline of Ansbach, Joseph Highmore c.1735,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This fascinating exhibition has come to Kensington Palace from the Yale Center for British Art where it understandably attracted so much interest while there. It considers the part played by three German Protestant princesses at the court of the Hanoverian Kings who ruled 18th century Britain. A legacy that can still be seen in today’s monarchy.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The three princesses concerned are Caroline, consort of George II; her daughter-in-law Augusta, who was married to Frederick Prince of Wales and Charlotte (Augusta’s daughter-in-law), consort of George III. In many senses they were the right women in the right place as Britain was embracing the ideas of the Enlightenment and the princesses’ intelligence and curiosity combined with their exalted status allowed them to foster and support the new ideas.

Queen Charlotte, Johann Joseph Zoffany 1771,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Scientists, authors and even musicians such as Handel were all drawn to their drawing rooms. They encouraged medical advances such as inoculation and were involved in the establishment of London’s Foundling Hospital. Plants and wildlife were another interest that all three shared and Kew Gardens is part of that legacy. They also supported British trade and manufacturing.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The exhibition succeeds in bringing both their private and public world to life.  The Yale Center for British Art’s director Amy Meyers sums it up: “Caroline, Augusta, and Charlotte had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural, and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations”.

The Flying Squirrel, Plate T-77, Mark Catesby
c The Royal Board of Trustees of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

www.hrp.org.uk

Christening robe made for future George IV, ivory silk satin c. 1760
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

‘Madonnas and Miracles’

‘Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy’, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, until 4th June 2017

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90 – during installation.
The silk velvet is Velluto Venezia by Rubelli.
Courtesy of Helen Edwards PR

This is a fascinating exhibition which reveals through both the fine and decorative arts a glimpse of life in Renaissance Italy.  Combining treasures from the museum’s own collections with those loaned from Europe, the US and Israel we see how important religion and devotion were in a world that we may often think as secular.

 

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90.
Photo: Nuns of Santa Chiara, Camerino.

Some of the works were to come from the Marche area of Italy which was affected by earthquakes last October and while it is has not been possible for some objects to be brought over as a result of it I am delighted to share images of this 15th century polychrome decorated wooden doll of the Christ Child with you because to me its survival is a miracle of some sort. It has not only survived through the centuries but also last year’s earthquake which reduced the Franciscan nunnery where it is kept to rubble.

 

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90 – during installation.
Courtesy of Helen Edwards PR

Images of the Madonna were an important feature in Italian homes in the Renaissance and her role as a mother was copied by many women who owned such dolls.  One other exhibit that particularly struck me was the set of knives whose blades are decorated with the notes and words for a four-part grace and nearby is a recording of it by members of the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.

The Viadana family prays to St Nicholas to save them from an earthquake, Italy, Le Marche, 16th century.
Tolentino, Museo di San Nicola.

The three groups of ex-voto paintings were way of giving thanks at shrines for what was deemed to be a miracle by the people or family concerned and I thought this one depicting a family praying for protection from an earthquake especially appropriate.

It is in its own special way a great exhibition.

 

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/

http://www.rubelli.com

Sir Edward Heath – at home

Sir Edward Heath – at home in Salisbury

Arundells - Entrance Front

Arundells – Entrance Front

Standing in the wonderful environs of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is Arundells a beautiful house of Georgian appearance which in part dates back to the mid-thirteenth century.  It was from 1985 to 2005 the home of the former politician and Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and although he had a long political career the house is very much a personal home which reflects all facets of his life. It is important to remember as you go round it that it remains very much as it was when he lived there.

The Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall

Immediately on arrival at the entrance hall you get the welcoming flavour of the house and an idea of how the strands of his interests are skilfully woven together. This he achieved with the help of the designer Derek Frost. Many of the paintings in the hall reflect his love of sailing through depictions and models of the five Morning Cloud yachts he sailed and interspersed among them are Napoleonic prisoner-of-war ship models made from bone and rigged with fine strands of hair.  The maritime-inspired combined clock and barometer was a gift from President Nixon.  There are also drawings by Sickert and Augustus and Gwen John.

Sir Edward seated at the piano in the Drawing Room

Sir Edward seated at the piano in the Drawing Room

A photograph of a young Sir Edward with Augustus John and Dorelia can be seen in the adjoining drawing room which is dominated by a Steinway grand piano which Sir Edward played and upon which are photographs of politicians and world leaders.  Among the many artworks in the room are paintings by L S Lowry, Ken Howard RA, Derek Hill and a painting of Heath’s home town ‘Broadstairs’ by Sir Robert Ponsonby-Staples which was a gift from Sir John Betjeman, given as Sir Edward had so often admired it when visiting Betjeman. Two pieces of sculpture one of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill by Oscar Nemon and a bust of Sir Edward by Martin Jennings are worthy of inspection as are the carved Chinese pieces on the mantelpiece and to its right the display of blue and white porcelain including a large pair of bottle vases which were a gift from Chairman Mao.

Portocarrero ‘Girl in a Fantastic Costume Cuba’

Portocarrero
‘Girl in a Fantastic Costume Cuba’

Pictures in the corridor towards the dining room and library include two paintings by Sir Winston Churchill which he gave to Heath.  There is also a fine group of etchings by William Wyllie, two Singer Sargent’s and a painting by the Cuban artist Portocarrero which was a gift from Fidel Castro.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room

The dining room is hung with pictures by John Piper, including two Sir Edward commissioned himself.  The table is set for lunch which was one of his favourite ways of entertaining – roast lamb followed by Stilton cheese, halibut and lemon pudding were among his favourites as were Brussels sprouts – and from the place cards on view when I was there one gets an idea of the wide range of people he invited which included Princess Margaret, Sting and Sir Harold Wilson.  Dame Maggie Smith, Terry Wogan and Yehudi Menuhin are among other well-known guests. There is also a large group of ceramic pieces on display including Tang pottery, Sevres, Chelsea and Worcester porcelain as well as some Copenhagen Flora Danica.

A view of some of the ceramics in the Dining Room

A view of some of the ceramics in the Dining Room

The Library overlooking the garden contains the high wing-back chair Sir Edward favoured and it was where he would entertain and chat to colleagues and friends from all political parties and walks of life. The walls are adorned with 18th and 19th century Japanese prints which perfectly suit the room. One of the major achievements of his political life was a growing rapport between the UK and China which is also reflected throughout the house but he also obviously had an interest in their arts and culture which is particularly apparent in the panels of specially commissioned wallpaper on the staircase which relates the popular Chinese legend of the Monkey King. They were a house-warming present from two of his former Private Secretaries.

The Library

The Library

Upstairs is Sir Edward’s study which was his private sanctum and where he worked at a Georgian writing desk which had previously belonged to David Lloyd-George. Heath’s army career is also recalled in another room with uniforms and other memorabilia on show from when he was with the Royal Artillery during the War and later on with the Honourable Artillery Company. His Garter Banner hangs on an upstairs corridor wall.

The Study

The Study

Downstairs just beyond the stair hall is a short corridor which is hung with political cartoons by leading cartoonists such as Giles, Jak, Low and Trog, many of which feature Sir Edward.  He enjoyed sharing them with his visitors although sometimes I imagine it may have been a wry chuckle.

Emmwood ©The Daily Mail

Emmwood
©The Daily Mail

Outside the beautiful garden, an intriguing combination of open spaces and secluded areas, is very much as created for Sir Edward.  It stretches down to the confluence of the Rivers Nadder and Avon and reveals a wonderful view across to the meadows. In one corner is the restored bow of Morning Cloud III which was sunk by a freak wave in September 1974, and whose two crew members Nigel Cummings and Christopher Chadd (Sir Edward’s godson) tragically lost their lives.

The view from the end of the garden

The view from the end of the garden

At the front of the house with its view into the Close and of the Cathedral is an exhibition space in a building which used to house Sir Edward’s archive.  At present (until mid-August) there is a display focusing on ‘World Leaders of the 1970s: A Decade of Turmoil’ which features President Nixon, Leonard Brezhnev, Chairman Mao Zedong, Willy Brandt, Indira Gandhi, President Pompidou, Kakuei Tanaka, Pierre Trudeau and Henry Kissinger.  Interestingly enough the latter will be giving a lecture in London in October as part of a series of celebrations organised by the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation to celebrate the centenary of Sir Edward’s birth (9th July, 2016). The following exhibition which runs until May 2017 is ‘Heath at 100: A Political Life in Cartoons’ which promises to be a fascinating way of remembering the major events of his time in politics.

Tang Dynasty Horse

Tang Dynasty Horse

My visit made a lasting impression and I would readily accept an offer to live there just as it is, because it’s a happy house of taste, comfort and history.  I can quite understand why Sir Edward fell in love with it at first sight and for us visitors today it is extremely fortunate that he was able to acquire the lease in 1992 and that he formed a charitable trust which allows us to share in the delights of Arundells and to remember Sir Edward, the man.

Sir Edward in the garden. The spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the background.

Sir Edward in the garden. The spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the background.

http://www.arundells.org

Hiroshi Yoshida The Inland Sea Series

Hiroshi Yoshida
The Inland Sea Series

MASTERPIECE 2016: SELECTION 2

Masterpiece London 2016, The Bull Ring Gate Entrance, South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3, 30thJune – 6th July 2016

 

Steinway & Sons White Spirio Heliconia (the Lalique piano) 2016 Courtesy Steinway & Sons

Steinway & Sons
White Spirio Heliconia (the Lalique piano)
2016
Courtesy Steinway & Sons

 

Lowell Libson Thomas Gainsborough Read Admiral Thomas Graves 1788 Courtesy Lowell Libson

Lowell Libson
Thomas Gainsborough
Read Admiral Thomas Graves
1788
Courtesy Lowell Libson

 

Wallace Chan Damask Silk Necklace 2016 DIF Diamond 54pcs 25.22ct Trillion-cut Pink Tourmaline 124pcs 21.38ct Fancy Colored Diamond, Pink Sapphire, White Agate Courtesy Wallace Chan

Wallace Chan
Damask Silk Necklace
2016
DIF Diamond 54pcs 25.22ct
Trillion-cut Pink Tourmaline 124pcs 21.38ct
Fancy Colored Diamond, Pink Sapphire, White Agate
Courtesy Wallace Chan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Uniacke The Louis XIV Walnut ‘Os de Mouton’ Sofa France circa 1730 104 x 239 x 77cm Courtesy Rose Uniacke

Rose Uniacke
The Louis XIV Walnut ‘Os de Mouton’ Sofa
France
circa 1730
104 x 239 x 77cm
Courtesy Rose Uniacke

 

Axel Vervoordt Monumental fragment from a standing male statue Leg and Feet on base Roman 2nd century A.D. Courtesy Axel Vervoodt

Axel Vervoordt
Monumental fragment from a standing male statue Leg and Feet on base
Roman 2nd century A.D.
Courtesy Axel Vervoodt

 

Adrian Sassoon A French 18th Century Soft-Paste Vincennes Porcelain Punch Bowl (jatte à ponche) c.1753 Courtesy Adrian Sassoon London

Adrian Sassoon
A French 18th Century Soft-Paste Vincennes Porcelain Punch Bowl (jatte à ponche)
c.1753
Courtesy Adrian Sassoon London

 

http://www.masterpiecefair.com

Masterpiece London 2016 – Preview

Masterpiece London 2016, The Bull Ring Gate Entrance, South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3, 30thJune – 6th July 2016

Nazy Vassegh, CEO of Masterpiece with J.F. Courville, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the RBC Wealth Management 2015 Courtesy Masterpiece London

Nazy Vassegh, CEO of Masterpiece with J.F. Courville, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the RBC Wealth Management
2015
Courtesy Masterpiece London

Now in its 7th edition one can easily understand why Masterpiece has become a magnet for collectors and museum curators from around the world.  There is a great emphasis on quality and connoisseurship and the pieces on show reflect more than five thousand years of art history – and yes they are for sale.

Vetting during Masterpiece London 2015 Courtesy Masterpiece London

Vetting during Masterpiece London 2015
Courtesy Masterpiece London

Masterpiece’s chief executive Nazy Vassegh says: ‘I am delighted to announce so many exciting additions to this year’s fair. Masterpiece 2016 will have unrivalled depth and quality, and I am pleased that Masterpiece continues to strengthen every edition. We are looking forward to another great year.’

It truly is a must visit fair and allow yourself plenty of time because there are so many exciting things to see and tempt. Like me you may well want visit more than once.

Vetting during Masterpiece London 2015 Courtesy Masterpiece London

Vetting during Masterpiece London 2015
Courtesy Masterpiece London

Over the coming days I will post varied selections of what is on show.

 

http://www.masterpiecefair.com

Samuel Pepys – an exhibition and a book

Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London SE10, until 28th March 2016

John Hayls, 1666 Samuel Pepys, (c) National Portrait Gallery, London

John Hayls, 1666
Samuel Pepys,
(c) National Portrait Gallery, London

Even if one knew nothing at all about this colourful, celebrated 17th century figure the exhibition’s title gives a clear clue about the stirring, changing times in which he lived.  The exhibition starts with the execution of Charles I, an event which Pepys, playing truant from school, witnessed.  We learn how Pepys in 1658 underwent the removal of a large bladder stone without anaesthetic or antiseptic – and yes the surgical practices of the era were somewhat scary and yet fortunately he survived the trauma.  In 1660 he was on the ship bringing Charles II and his brother James, Duke of York back to England at the Restoration of the Monarchy.

Dirk Stoop, c.1661, Charles II's cavalcade through City of London on 22nd April 1661, the day before his coronation. Oil on panel. (c) Museum of London

Dirk Stoop, c.1661,
Charles II’s cavalcade through City of London on 22nd April 1661, the day before his coronation. Oil on panel.
(c) Museum of London

It is his diary for which he is most widely known and which he wrote in shorthand.  He started writing it in January 1660 and continued writing it until 1669.  We learn through it not only details of his personal life, including affairs and friends but also of major events such as the Plague and the Great Fire of London.

Painting of 'The Fire of London, September 1666', unknown, 17th century, (c) National Maritime Museum, London

Painting of ‘The Fire of London, September 1666’, unknown, 17th century,
(c) National Maritime Museum, London

He was something of a Renaissance man and was an adept administrator in naval matters, an MP and a member of the Royal Society and all these aspects of his life and times are revealed through the two hundred objects in the exhibition drawn from private and public collections.

Suit worn by James, Duke of York, at his wedding to Mary of Modena, 1673, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Suit worn by James, Duke of York, at his wedding to Mary of Modena, 1673,
(c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On the death of Charles II in 1685, Pepys continued to serve his brother James, the new King, who had been his main patron.  However James lost his crown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and William and Mary succeeded to the throne and it as at this juncture that Pepys withdrew from public life and continued to pursue his many interests, including music, in retirement until his death in Clapham in 1703.

 

http://www.rmg.co.uk

 

 Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys

Plague, Fire, Revolution

Edited by Margarette Lincoln
Introduction by Claire Tomalin
 Thames & Hudson
ISBN 9780500518144
£29.95

 

This volume which is published alongside the hugely enjoyable exhibition is, if anything, even more of a treat.  It is beautifully illustrated and includes a larger number of pictures, objects and engravings to provide a really engaging view of the world of Samuel Pepys (1633–1703).

 

http://www.thamesandhudson.com

Tom Hammick at Flowers

Tom Hammick – Wall, Window, World, Flowers Gallery · 82 Kingsland Rd · London, E2, until 10th October 2015

Tom Hammick,  Violetta and Alfredo's Retreat, 2015,  Oil on Linen,  (c) Tom Hammick, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York

Tom Hammick,
Violetta and Alfredo’s Retreat, 2015,
Oil on Linen,
(c) Tom Hammick, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York

Hammick’s paintings are quite engrossing in that they immediately draw the viewer into the slightly mysterious worlds he has created and make you want to understand what may be going on.  Paintings, figures and buildings feature and whether they be in the paintings and prints inspired by his recent year-long spell as Artist in Residence at the ENO, or the natural or urban landscapes you get a feeling of edginess of the unknown and even isolation.

Tom Hammick,  Walther von Stolzing’s New Suit, 2015,  Oil on canvas,  (c) Tom Hammick, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York

Tom Hammick,
Walther von Stolzing’s New Suit, 2015,
Oil on canvas,
(c) Tom Hammick, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York

At the same time as this memorable show a new book by Julian Bell Tom Hammick: Wall, Window, World is published by Lund Humphries. It is a welcome survey and examination of his work to date.

TH_CoverLR-res

 

www.flowersgallery.com