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

 

“Chinese Nell” and friends!

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 1st October 2017

Solomon, Simeon 1840-1905
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
1864
Watercolour on paper
330 x 381 mm
Tate. Purchased 1980


I have thought long and hard about this exhibition which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act legislation in 1967 which meant partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991)
Douglas Byng
1934
Vintage bromide print
239 x 193 mm
National Portrait Gallery
© Estate of Paul Tanqueray

Well done Tate Britain for its partnership with this year’s London Pride (Pride in London at Tate Britain, 2pm to 10pm 24th June). Given what still goes on in countries such as Chechnya we must be grateful for the passing of the act.

David Hockney
Life Painting for a Diploma
1962
Yageo Foundation
© Yageo Foundation

However, I do wonder, although admittedly progress has been made, how much things have really changed in our own multi-cultural society?  We know how differing faiths do not accept homosexuality as being right or acceptable.  Many families, whatever their ethnic background, struggle to accept a member of their family being gay. Gay people get homophobic abuse or are physically attacked for no reason other than they are “different”, even my partner and I have been hissed at in Westminster’s Edgware Road.

Angus McBean (1904-1990)
Quentin Crisp
1941
Bromide print
National Portrait Gallery (London, UK)
© Estate of Angus McBean / National Portrait Gallery, London

I recently saw a production of La Cage aux Folles at the Wimbledon Theatre.  I think the real time to celebrate acceptance and inclusion will be when LGBT people can say/sing the words from the show –

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses

– And know they don’t have to look over their shoulder. Impossible, or could we all work harder towards it?

John Craxton
Head of a Greek Sailor
1940
Oil on board
330 x 305 mm
London Borough of Camden
© Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo credit: London Borough of Camden

Among the exhibits in this somewhat politically correct exhibition is a monogrammed dressing gown that belonged to Noel Coward.  He was friends of Ian Fleming and his wife Ann and they both had houses on Jamaica.  In one of her letters Ann writes that Noel is referred to as “Chinese Nell” on the island *.  Need I say more?

Out
Keith Vaughan
Drawing of two men kissing
1958–73
Tate Archive
© DACS, The Estate of Keith Vaughan

 

*The Letters of Ann Fleming by Ann Fleming, Mark Amory (Editor), Collins Harvill, 1985

 

 

tate.org.uk

The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky

Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 26th June 2016

Modest Mussorgsky by Ilia Repin, 1881 Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Modest Mussorgsky by Ilia Repin, 1881
Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The staging of this important exhibition is thanks to the fact that Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery is like the National Portrait Gallery also celebrating the one hundred and sixtieth anniversary of its foundation.

Anna Akhmatova by Olga Della-Vos-Kardovskaia, 1914 Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Anna Akhmatova by Olga Della-Vos-Kardovskaia, 1914
Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Twenty-two of the twenty-six Russian portraits on show have never been seen in Britain before.   They are hugely important paintings, depicting some of the key proponents of the Russian arts between 1867-1914, including Akhmatova, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev.  It is an opportunity not to be missed.

Anton Chekhov by Iosif Braz, 1898 Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Anton Chekhov by Iosif Braz, 1898
Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

In return for this generous loan the National Portrait Gallery has loaned works from its own collection to the Moscow Gallery for an exhibition entitled Elizabeth to Victoria: British Portraits from the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery

 

http://www.npg.org.uk

 

The Lanigan Collection – a generous gift

Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection, Leighton House Museum 12 Holland Park Road, London W14, until 29th May 2016

Frederick Sandys, King Pelles Daughter Bearing the Vessel of the Sangreal, 1861. Promised Gift from the Lanigan Collection ® NGC

Frederick Sandys,
King Pelles Daughter Bearing the Vessel of the Sangreal, 1861.
Promised Gift from the Lanigan Collection
® NGC

There is still time to see this remarkable collection of drawings and sketches which includes, portraits, allegories, religious and literary scenes and landscapes.  Some are preparatory studies for works by painters such as Holman Hunt and Burne-Jones.

Frederic Leighton, Study of Iphigenia for Cymon and Iphigenia, 1883, Promised Gift from the Lanigan Collection ® NGC

Frederic Leighton,
Study of Iphigenia for Cymon and Iphigenia, 1883,
Promised Gift from the Lanigan Collection
® NGC

This collection which adorns the walls of the Museum’s rooms, with the exception of Lord Leighton’s studio, has been put together by the Canadian collector Dr. Dennis T. Lanigan over a thirty-year period. In recent times Lanigan has given or promised much of the collection to the National Gallery of Canada.  A very generous gift indeed.

Edward Burne-Jones, Study for The Wedding Feast of Sir Degrevaunt (for William Morris Red House),1860 ® NGC

Edward Burne-Jones,
Study for The Wedding Feast of Sir Degrevaunt (for William Morris Red House),1860
® NGC

http://www.leightonhouse.co.uk

BOOK REVIEW: Konstantin Makovsky

Konstantin Makovsky The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris

Wendy Salmond, Wilfried Zeisler and Russell E. Martin

Published by GILES in association with the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

PRICE — UK£29.95/US$45.00

ISBN — 978-1-907804-70-0

9781907804700

 

Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915) was a Russian artist whose career encompasses late 19th century Imperial Russia, Paris and America.  He is particularly known for three large-scale works which depict the customs of traditional aristocratic Boyar weddings and reflect the interest of the time in the Old Russian Style of pre-Petrine Russia.

Konstantin Makovsky Imperial Dinner Table in the Palace of Facets 1883

Konstantin Makovsky
Imperial Dinner Table in the Palace of Facets
1883

The three paintings that are central to this fascinating book are A Boyar Wedding Feast (1883) which hangs in the Pavilion at Hillwood in Washington DC, Choosing the Bride (1887), and The Russian Bride’s Attire (1889).  The book reveals that as well as pictures such as these Makovsky also painted Orientalist pictures while in Paris.

This is a beautifully illustrated book which deservedly celebrates the colourful world of this talented artist. A visual treat in every way.

Konstantin Makovsky A Boyar Wedding Feast 1883

Konstantin Makovsky
A Boyar Wedding Feast
1883

The exhibition Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter runs at Hillwood Museum 13th February – 12th June 2016

 

http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org

http://www.gilesltd.com

Sublime Gardens

 

Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London SW1, until11th October 2015

Marco Ricci, A View of the Cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens, c.1715. Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Marco Ricci, A View of the Cascade, Bushy Park Water Gardens, c.1715.
Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

This is a great exhibition which celebrates the idea of the garden through paintings, drawings, books and the decorative arts from the 16th to the early 20th century.

Mir 'Ali Sir Nava'l, Seven Couples in a Garden, c. 1510. Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Mir ‘Ali Sir Nava’l, Seven Couples in a Garden, c. 1510.
Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

We see a Persian garden depicted in an Islamic manuscript, the gardens of Versailles and Hampton Court, Kew, Windsor and Osborne House. Works by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Brueghel the Elder as well as late 19th and early 20th century watercolours and a Fantin-Latour painting.

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, 1615. Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, 1615.
Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

There is a wonderful selection of floral decoration on Bow, Chelsea, Meissen and Sèvres porcelains, textiles, furniture, silver, fans and jewellery, including pieces commissioned by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria and of course works by Carl Fabergé.

Workshop of Carl Faberge, Bleeding Heart, c.1900. Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Workshop of Carl Faberge, Bleeding Heart, c.1900.
Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

This engaging exhibition appeals to most tastes as it reveals the garden as a place of beauty, a place for research and science, a place to relax and enjoy and a place to wonder at the glories of nature.

Thomas Tompion, one of a pair of sundials, 17th century. Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Thomas Tompion, one of a pair of sundials, 17th century.
Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk

 

Messum’s

British Impressions: Important British Paintings, Messum’s, 28 Cork Street, London W1, until 31st July 2015

 

Henry Herbert La Thangue 1859-1929 RA NEAC Tucking the Rick oil on canvas H 112 x W 91 cm (H 43 7⁄8 x W 35 7⁄8 in)

Henry Herbert La Thangue 1859-1929 RA NEAC
Tucking the Rick
oil on canvas
H 112 x W 91 cm (H 43 7⁄8 x W 35 7⁄8 in)

Henry Herbert La Thangue 1859-1929 RA NEAC In a Cottage Garden (The Sawing Horse), 1896 oil on canvas H 114 x W 88 cm (H 45 x W 34 5⁄8 in)

Henry Herbert La Thangue 1859-1929 RA NEAC
In a Cottage Garden (The Sawing Horse), 1896
oil on canvas
H 114 x W 88 cm (H 45 x W 34 5⁄8 in)

This inviting exhibition will quicken the heartbeat of some collectors as it features works that are returning to the market for the first time in many years. The two paintings by Herbert La Thangue are now reunited for the first time since they were exhibited at the 1904 St Louis International Exhibition as part of the British display.

 

 

 

www.messums.com

Sir Alfred Munnings 1878-1959 PRA Portrait of Florence Munnings at Sunset oil on canvas H 53 x W 61 cm (H 20 7⁄8 x W 24 in)

Sir Alfred Munnings 1878-1959 PRA
Portrait of Florence Munnings at Sunset
oil on canvas
H 53 x W 61 cm (H 20 7⁄8 x W 24 in)