Room 90 at the BM

Maggi Hambling – Touch: works on paper, Room 90, The British Museum, until 29th January 2017 

French portrait drawings from Clouet to Courbet, Room 90, The British Museum, until 29th January 2017

 

Rosie, the stuffed rhinoceros in Ipswich Museum, 1963. Ink 48.3 x 34.9 cm, Maggi Hambling © The Trustees of the British Museum

Rosie, the stuffed rhinoceros in Ipswich Museum, 1963.
Ink 48.3 x 34.9 cm,
Maggi Hambling © The Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum’s Room 90 plays host to two very good exhibitions of drawings.  The first Touch features forty works by that great British contemporary artist Maggi Hambling who although proficient in all media – painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture – regards drawing as the heart of her working practice.

The show’s title ‘Touch’ reflects Hambling’s belief that there is a deep connection between artist and subject.  She explains: : ‘I believe the subject chooses the artist, not vice versa, and that subject must then be in charge during the act of drawing in order for the truth to be found. Eye and hand attempt to discover and produce those precise marks which will recreate what the heart feels. The challenge is to touch the subject, with all the desire of a lover.’

Father painting 16/1/94 (4), 1994. Ink on paper. 61 x 49 cm © Maggi Hambling; photo: Douglas Atfield

Father painting 16/1/94 (4), 1994.
Ink on paper. 61 x 49 cm
© Maggi Hambling; photo: Douglas Atfield

The show also marks the gift of fifteen works by the artist to the British Museum and follows on from the idea, originated by Francis Towne in 1816, of artists giving some of their works to the Museum.

Portrait of Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne and his wife Geneviève , Nicolas de Plattemontage, 1677, 260.00 x208.00 mm, Black chalk with red and white chalk on paper © The Trustees of the British Museum

Portrait of Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne and his wife Geneviève , Nicolas de Plattemontage, 1677,
260.00 x208.00 mm, Black chalk with red and white chalk on paper
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Nearby is French portrait drawings from Clouet to Courbet a wonderful selection that highlights the Museum’s notable holdings of French portrait drawings. There is something intimate about a drawing – as Maggi Hambling suggests – and so no wonder artists used it to depict family and friends.  It is also a good medium to try out new ideas of portraiture. As well as these ravishing drawings there are examples in other media including enamels, medals and an onyx cameo.

Leopold Mozart and his two children, Wolfgang Amadeus and Marie Anne, 1777, 320 x 200 mm. Watercolour and bodycolour, on contemporary gold, black and green wash mount © The Trustees of the British Museum

Leopold Mozart and his two children, Wolfgang Amadeus and Marie Anne, 1777,
320 x 200 mm. Watercolour and bodycolour, on contemporary gold, black and green wash mount
© The Trustees of the British Museum

britishmuseum.org

Gustave Courbet, Self Portrait , 570.00 x 450.00 mm, 1852, Black chalk and charcoal on paper © The Trustees of the British Museum

Gustave Courbet, Self Portrait ,
570.00 x 450.00 mm, 1852,
Black chalk and charcoal on paper
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Kakiemon at the British Museum

The Asahi Shimbun Display Made in Japan: Kakiemon and 400 years of porcelain, Room 3 British Museum Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 21 August 2016

Boy on a Go Board, Kakiemon Kiln, later 17th century © The Trustees of the British Museum

Boy on a Go Board, Kakiemon Kiln, later 17th century
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This is a great celebration of Japanese porcelain which was first made four hundred years ago in the town of Arita. Japan was a latecomer to porcelain production when compared to China and Korea but thanks to domestic unrest in China it was able to quickly gain a market which thanks to the Dutch East India Company, included Europe.

Painting overglaze enamels onto Kakiemon porcelain © The Trustees of the British Museum

Painting overglaze enamels onto Kakiemon porcelain
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The traditional classic Kakiemon style of the last thirty years of the 17th century comprised of overglaze enamels (orange-red, green, blue and yellow) which were sparsely but elegantly applied to the porcelain.  It was particularly popular with Queen Mary in this country and you will find examples in many stately homes and museums too. Although the production of the classic style actually ceased in Japan in the 18th century it was copied by the Chinese and in Europe.

Four Kakiemon style dishes from Japan, China, Germany and Britain, 17th-18th centuries © The Trustees of the British Museum

Four Kakiemon style dishes from Japan, China, Germany and Britain, 17th-18th centuries
© The Trustees of the British Museum

One porcelain maker was Sakaida Kizaemon who in 1647 was thought to be the man who introduced the overglaze enamelling technique to the porcelain kilns in Arita; a fact which earned him the name Sakaida Kakiemon I – which reflects the orangey-red colour that comes from kaki (persimmon). Kakiemon I was the starter of a dynasty of potters which passes down to the eldest son and in fact the current Sakaida Kakiemon XV who succeeded his father Kakiemon XIV in 2013 has especially made a new work, decorated with acorn branches, for the British Museum.  In the mid-20th century Kakiemon XIII brought back the traditional style in a more contemporary form and that tradition continues today.

Sakaida Kakiemon XV examines his work © The Trustees of the British Museum

Sakaida Kakiemon XV examines his work
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This is a must see exhibition for anyone interested in porcelain!

 

Britishmuseum.org

AUCTION ALERT – MEISSEN FIGURE, 25th May 2016

Matthew Barton – EUROPEAN & ASIAN WORKS OF ART, 25 Blythe Road, London, W14, 25 May 2016

I know that many of my readers have an interest in ceramics and I thought I would bring this rather unusual Meissen figure to your attention:

 

“Lot 6

6

A MEISSEN MINIATURE FIGURE OF A FRIESIAN SAILOR, CIRCA 1755

probably modelled by J.J. Kändler or J.F. Eberlein, the mustachioed figure with arms akimbo and wearing a grey knitted conical hat, pink doublet, pale green full breeches and black shoes, on a shaped circular flower encrusted naturalistic base, underglaze blue crossed swords mark to rear base

8.4cm high

 

This apparently unrecorded figure seems likely to be from the Meissen series of ‘Nations of the Levant’, modelled by J.J. Kaendler and J.F. Eberlein between 1748 and 1760, after prints taken from Le Hay and Ferriol’s Receuil de Cent Estampes representant Differentes Nations du Levant, published in 1712-13.  Confusingly this series includes non-Levantine Bulgarian and Hungarian figures, so may have included a sailor from Friesland.  See the British Museum No. 1871, 1209.2663 for a print of a ‘Matelot de Frise’, after Bernard Picart (Le Romain; 1673-1733), Amsterdam, 1728.  Variant costume plates of this mustachioed Friesian sailor figure, but always in the same akimbo pose, were widely circulated in Europe right through the 18th century.

£1000-1800”

 

 

http://www.25blytheroad.com

Treasures from Baron Ferdinand’s Smoking Room – from Waddesdon Manor to the British Museum.

A Rothschild Renaissance: Treasures from the Waddesdon Bequest, Room 2a, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1

The Smoking Room in Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s The Red Book, 1897; Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) Gift of Dorothy de Rothschild, 1971; acc. no. 54 © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

The Smoking Room in Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s The Red Book, 1897; Waddesdon,
The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) Gift of Dorothy de Rothschild, 1971; acc. no. 54
© The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild emulated many of the Renaissance princely and noble collectors in creating his own Kunstkammern in the Tower Drawing Room at his country house Waddesdon Manor but in the late 1880s he had a New Smoking Room created in the Bachelors’ Wing which was decorated in the Renaissance style and suited the collection perfectly.

 The Waddesdon Bequest, Room 2a, British Museum. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Waddesdon Bequest, Room 2a, British Museum.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

He bequeathed this Renaissance collection to the British Museum on his death in 1898 with the proviso that it was to be displayed in a separate room on its own. Having been displayed on the first floor of the museum for many years it is now housed, thanks to a generous donation from the Rothschild Foundation, in a stunning, specially created new gallery in what was the original Reading Room of the Museum.

Rosary bead or prayer-nut showing scenes of St Hubert The Waddesdon Bequest. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Rosary bead or prayer-nut showing scenes of St Hubert The Waddesdon Bequest.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This is a special collection not only because it reflects the mind of a 19th century collector but also through the objects purchased reflects the art market of the day as well as the rise of forgery to meet the demand from the growing number of collectors in the 19th century.

The Aspremont Lynden Ewer and Basin, silver-gilt, 1545-50. The Waddesdon Bequest. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Aspremont Lynden Ewer and Basin, silver-gilt, 1545-50. The Waddesdon Bequest.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This is a collection that one has to visit so that one can get close to the objects and appreciate their fine detail and see the craftsmanship that went into their creation.  To me the exquisite Holy Thorn Reliquary still captures my imagination as it was made to hold a thorn believed to have come from Christ’s Crown of Thorns and was described by Neil MacGregor in the series “A History of the World in 100 Objects” as “a single-object museum”.

Holy Thorn Reliquary of Jean, duc de Berry, Paris, France, before AD 1397 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Holy Thorn Reliquary of Jean, duc de Berry, Paris, France, before AD 1397
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Footnote: The New Smoking Room at Waddesdon now houses a collection put together by Ferdinand’s sister Alice de Rothschild.  See my blog CHRISTMAS 2015 AT WADDESDON (21 November 2015) for an illustration, it is the room with the “Hanukkah” inspired lamp in it.

 The Waddesdon Bequest, Room 2a, British Museum. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Waddesdon Bequest, Room 2a, British Museum.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

 

britishmuseum.org

 

http://www.waddesdon.org.uk

Metalpoint Drawing

Drawing in silver and gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns, Room 90, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 6th December 2015

Albrecht Dürer, Dog resting, c. 1520, silverpoint over charcoal? on pale pink prepared paper, 128 x 180mm. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Albrecht Dürer,
Dog resting, c. 1520,
silverpoint over charcoal? on pale pink prepared paper, 128 x 180mm.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

This exhibition is a joint venture with the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and it looks at the technique of metalpoint drawing across the centuries and features around one hundred works drawn from collections around the world.

Susan Schwalb, Strata no. 407, 2005, silverpoint, 229 x 227mm. © Reproduced by permission of the artist

Susan Schwalb,
Strata no. 407, 2005,
silverpoint, 229 x 227mm.
© Reproduced by permission of the artist

The technique requires a metal stylus, often of silver, which was then used to draw on a roughened preparation.  The artist had to have a very clear idea of the image they wanted as it is difficult to rub out a line once drawn.  The skill and attention needed was worth it as the drawings in this exhibition eloquently show.

Leonardo da Vinci, Bust of a warrior, c. 1475, silverpoint, on cream prepared paper, 287 x 211mm. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Leonardo da Vinci,
Bust of a warrior, c. 1475,
silverpoint, on cream prepared paper, 287 x 211mm.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Used in Italy in the 1400s but replaced by the growing popularity of chalk as a medium in the mid-16th century, it remained popular in Northern Europe until the 17th century.  It was then discarded as a technique until the revival of interest in the Renaissance in the 19th century and as this exhibition illustrates it is still used today.

 

http://www.britishmuseum.org

The British Museum

“Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation”, supported by BP, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 2nd August 2015

Pearl shell pendant with dancing figures.  Kimberley region, Western Australia, before 1926.   Pearl shell, charcoal  © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Pearl shell pendant with dancing figures.
Kimberley region, Western Australia, before 1926.
Pearl shell, charcoal
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

This is a fascinating, if somewhat uncomfortable exhibition that looks at the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Torres Strait Islands and their relationship with the land and sea in a history that stretches back over sixty thousand years. A relationship which changes forever in 1770 when Captain Cook landed on Australia’s East Coast.

Shield believed  to have been collected  during Captain Cook's visit to Botany Bay, 1770.  Mangrove bark   © The Trustees of the British Museum

Shield believed to have been collected
during Captain Cook’s visit to Botany Bay, 1770.
Mangrove bark
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The complex story of the years from 1770 to the present is told through objects from the Museum and other notable collections such as the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the National Museum of Australia. Some items were also specially created to reflect the fact that the culture of the many groups that make up Australia’s Indigenous population continues today.

Land rights placard frm the aboriginal Tent embassy, erected, as a site of protest, in 1972.  Paint on Masonite board,  Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 1972.   National Museum of Australia

Land rights placard frm the aboriginal Tent embassy, erected, as a site of protest, in 1972.
Paint on Masonite board,
Old Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 1972.
National Museum of Australia

It is a glimpse into both British and Australian history that should be seen and reflected on.

Britishmuseum.org

'Yumari' Uta Uta Tjangala (c. 1926–1990), Pintupi people, Papunya, Northern Territory, 1981,  Acrylic on canvas.  National Museum of Australia

‘Yumari’
Uta Uta Tjangala
(c. 1926–1990),
Pintupi people, Papunya, Northern Territory, 1981,
Acrylic on canvas.
National Museum of Australia

Ming: 50 years that changed China

Ming: 50 years that changed China, The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1, until 4th January 2014

ortrait of Yang Hong (1381-1451). Ming dynasty, Jingtai reign, ca. 1451. Ink and color on silk. H x W (painting): 220.8 x 127.5 cm (86 15/16 x 50 3/16 in) Credit line: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Purchase-- Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff, S1991.77

Portrait of Yang Hong (1381-1451). Ming dynasty, Jingtai reign, ca. 1451. Ink and
color on silk. H x W (painting): 220.8 x 127.5 cm (86 15/16 x 50 3/16 in)
Credit line: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Purchase–
Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff, S1991.77

This exhibition tells the story of the fifty years (1400-1450) when China became a global super power. Admiral Zheng was responsible for sending treasure ships to South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East which resulted in trade and growing diplomatic ties. At home things changed politically with power becoming centralised rather than devolved as bureaucrats took over from military leaders. Even the Emperor’s role changed from that of an autocrat to one of iconic status. China’s borders became established and Beijing became the Imperial capital, with the Emperor building the Forbidden City.

Head ornament. Gold. About 1400–50. Nanjing or Beijing. © Trustees of the British Museum

Head ornament. Gold. About 1400–50. Nanjing or Beijing. © Trustees of the British Museum

The emphasis of this exhibition is on the cultural and social changes happening at this time concentrating not only on the Imperial Courts of the four Emperors who reigned during this period but also on three regional princely tombs East (Sichuan), Southwest (Shandong) and Central China (Hubei) and the objects found within. This really is a superb exhibition on all levels and you should visit before it closes.

Porcelain bottle with underglaze cobalt blue decoration. Yongle era, 1403- 1424. Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Height 33.50 cm; diameter 18.60 cm. Sir Percival David Collection. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Porcelain bottle with underglaze cobalt blue decoration. Yongle era, 1403-
1424. Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Height 33.50 cm; diameter 18.60 cm. Sir Percival David
Collection. © The Trustees of the British Museum

A last thought and that is the late 1490s painting of the Adoration of the Three Magi by Andrea Mantegna which is included in this show. Why you may ask? Well the oldest of the Magi who offers gold coins to the Infant Christ, holds a tiny blue-and-white porcelain bowl or cup. A reminder that a small number of Chinese ceramics are known to have been in Europe in the 15th century and slightly earlier although it would be the 16th century before they became more common.

Sword and scabbard with inscription. Iron, gold, silver, wood and leather. Yongle era about 1420, Beijing. © Royal Armouries

Sword and scabbard with inscription. Iron, gold, silver, wood and leather.
Yongle era about 1420, Beijing. © Royal Armouries

http://www.britishmuseum.org

Anonymous, ‘Tribute giraffe with attendant’. Hanging scroll, ink and colours on silk. Dated 1414. Philadelphia Museum of Art, donated by John T. Dorrance. Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Anonymous, ‘Tribute giraffe with attendant’. Hanging scroll, ink and
colours on silk. Dated 1414. Philadelphia Museum of Art, donated by John T. Dorrance. Image
courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Many thanks to Errol Manners FSA for his advice