Sargent in Dulwich

Sargent: The Watercolours, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 8th October 2017

John Singer Sargent, The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, c. 1904-9,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 36.7 x 53.8 cm,
© Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. Photo: Catarina Gomes Ferreira

It is almost a hundred years since there was an exhibition devoted to the watercolours of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) so there is much to celebrate in this show. The eighty works by this Anglo American artist are an absolute delight with most dating from between 1900 – 1918.

Unknown photographer, Sargent painting a watercolour in the Simplon Pass, c. 1910-11,
Sargent Archive, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sargent by 1910 had basically given up the portrait painting for which he was renowned to concentrate on watercolour painting. He travelled in Southern Europe and the Middle East and brought his own idiosyncratic style to these wonderful works whether fragmented glimpses, cities, people or landscapes. As the photograph shows he painted ‘en plein air’ and in some of the Venice watercolours you feel you are actually there with him in the gondola from which he depicts the view before him.

John Singer Sargent, A Turkish Woman by a Stream, c. 1907,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, with touches of body colour, 35.9 x 50.8 cm,
Victoria and Albert Museum. Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Richard Ormond, co-curator and grand-nephew of Sargent, says: “In Sargent’s watercolours we see his zest for life and his pleasure in the act of painting. The fluency and sensuality of his paint surfaces, and his wonderful command of light, never cease to astonish us. With this exhibition we hope to demonstrate Sargent’s mastery of the medium and the scale of his achievement”.
I rather think you will agree with him.

John Singer Sargent, Rome: An Architectural Study, c. 1906-7,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.9 x 50.2 cm,
Museums & Galleries, City of Bradford MDC

 

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

 

John Singer Sargent, Highlanders Resting at the Front, 1918,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.3 cm x 53.5 cm,
© Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

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

A Dutch Master

Adriaen van de Velde: Dutch Master of Landscape, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road,
London SE21,
until 15th January 2017 

Adriaen van de Velde, Figures on the beach at Scheveningen, 1660, Oil on canvas, 38.2 x 50cm, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Adriaen van de Velde,
Figures on the beach at Scheveningen, 1660,
Oil on canvas, 38.2 x 50cm,
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

This is a very special exhibition arranged in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Adriaen van de Velde (1636 – 1672) was the son of the celebrated marine painter Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611-1693) and brother of the equally famous marine painter Willem van de Velde the Younger (1663-1707). Adriaen however is regarded as one of the best landscape artists of the Dutch Golden Age.

Adriaen van de Velde, Herdsman and herdswoman with livestock by a stream, Pen in brown and black grey wash, 17.7 x 17.7 cm, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Adriaen van de Velde,
Herdsman and herdswoman with livestock by a stream,
Pen in brown and black grey wash, 17.7 x 17.7 cm,
Teylers Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Although his career lasted less than two decades his works were eagerly sought after by collectors of Dutch 17th century painting in both the 18th and 19th century. From the opening gallery onward one can see how good a painter he was and as we progress through the exhibition we see both finished works and preparatory drawings, with the latter revealing the artist’s working method.

He was so good at painting figures that fellow landscape artists, including Jacob van Ruisdael, Meindert Hobbema and Jan van der Heyden asked him to paint the figures in some of their works.

Adriaen van de Velde, The Hut, 1671, Oil on canvas, 76 x 65 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Adriaen van de Velde,
The Hut, 1671,
Oil on canvas, 76 x 65 cm,
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It is a delight of an exhibition and as its curator Bart Cornelis commented: This exhibition provides an opportunity for the public to get to know the work of one of those exceptionally gifted and refined artists of the Dutch Golden Age who has more recently slipped through the net of history but who deserves to be rediscovered as the great painter and draughtsman that he is. What’s more, his drawings provide a fascinating opportunity to see a seventeenth-century Dutch artist at work: we can, as it were, look over his shoulder to see how he composed his landscapes.

Adriaen van de Velde, Two studies of a reclining shepherd, 1666-1671, red chalk over a sketch in black chalk, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt

Adriaen van de Velde,
Two studies of a reclining shepherd, 1666-1671,
red chalk over a sketch in black chalk,
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/

An artist re-visited!

Winifred Knights (1899-1947), Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 18th September 2016

Winifred Knights, The Marriage at Cana, 1923, Oil on canvas, 184 x 200 cm, Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Gift of the British School at Rome, London, 1957. © The Estate of Winifred Knights

Winifred Knights, The Marriage at Cana, 1923,
Oil on canvas, 184 x 200 cm,
Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Gift of the British School at Rome, London, 1957.
© The Estate of Winifred Knights

It seems quite surprising that an artist who was a star at the Slade School and went on to be the first British woman to win the Prix de Rome is not better known. However thanks to the Dulwich Gallery and the exhibition’s curator Sacha Llewellyn this is very eloquently being put right.

Winifred Knights, Full-length Seated Female Nude, three-quarter view, 1917, 39 x 31.5 cm, UCL Art Museum, 6055, University College London. © The Estate of Winifred Knights

Winifred Knights, Full-length Seated Female Nude, three-quarter view, 1917,
39 x 31.5 cm,
UCL Art Museum, 6055, University College London.
© The Estate of Winifred Knights

Knights’ inspiration was the Italian Quattrocento and this is very clearly reflected in her detailed work which while being of her time recalls palette-wise the frescoes of the early Renaissance. The exhibition follows her life chronologically and features drawings, studies and large works.

Winifred Knights, Scenes from The Life of Saint Martin of Tours, c.1928-33, Oil (or possibly tempera) on canvas with glazing, 73 x 159.5 cm, Milner Memorial Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral. Reproduced courtesy of the Dean and Chapter, Canterbury Cathedral. © The Estate of Winifred Knights

Winifred Knights, Scenes from The Life of Saint Martin of Tours, c.1928-33,
Oil (or possibly tempera) on canvas with glazing, 73 x 159.5 cm,
Milner Memorial Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral. Reproduced courtesy of the Dean and Chapter, Canterbury Cathedral.
© The Estate of Winifred Knights

The exhibition, which I warmly recommend to you, is perhaps best summed up by Sacha Llewellyn who says: “Although never part of the modernist avant-garde, Knights engaged with modern-life subjects, breathing new life into figurative and narrative painting to produce an art that was inventive and technically outstanding. She explored form and colour to create a mood of calmness and reflection that impacts directly on our senses. Like so many women artists, heralded and appreciated in their own day, she has disappeared into near oblivion. This exhibition, in bringing together a lifetime of work, will create an irrefutable visual argument that she was one of the most talented and striking artists of her generation.”
Please do go and see for yourself!

Winifred Knights, Cartoon for The Deluge, 1920, Pencil on paper, squared, 147.3 x 177.8 cm, The Wolfsonian – Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr Collection. © The Estate of Winifred Knights

Winifred Knights, Cartoon for The Deluge, 1920,
Pencil on paper, squared, 147.3 x 177.8 cm,
The Wolfsonian – Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr Collection.
© The Estate of Winifred Knights

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Norway in London

Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 15th May 2016

Nikolai Astrup The Parsonage, Oil on canvas 101 x 88 cm The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

Nikolai Astrup
The Parsonage,
Oil on canvas
101 x 88 cm
The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

This is London’s first exhibition of paintings and prints by the renowned Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928).  It is an exhilarating insight into both his artistic life and the area where he lived in western Norway where he grew up in his father’s parsonage at Ålhus and later at his own farmstead at Astruptunet (formerly known as Sandalstrand).  It is a magical world recalling his childhood and the spirit of the place.

Nikolai Astrup Interior Still Life: Christmas Morning, Oil on canvas 94 x 104 cm Private Collection

Nikolai Astrup
Interior Still Life: Christmas Morning,
Oil on canvas
94 x 104 cm
Private Collection

Although initially a follower of the Norwegian naturalist style through studying elsewhere in Europe he became influenced by the “naive” style of Maurice Denis and Henri ‘le Douanier’ Rousseau and the results as you can see are both distinctive and engaging.

Nikolai Astrup Midsummer Eve Bonfire, After 1917 Black and white woodcut on paper 34.5 x 34 cm approx Private Collection

Nikolai Astrup
Midsummer Eve Bonfire, After 1917
Black and white woodcut on paper
34.5 x 34 cm approx
Private Collection

 

Henrik Lund Portrait of Nikolai Astrup, 1900 Oil on canvas 90 x 68 cm Oslo Museum

Henrik Lund
Portrait of Nikolai Astrup, 1900
Oil on canvas
90 x 68 cm
Oslo Museum

 

Nikolai Astrup A Clear Night in June, 1905-1907 Oil on canvas 148 x 152 cm The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

Nikolai Astrup
A Clear Night in June, 1905-1907
Oil on canvas
148 x 152 cm
The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Escher

‘The Amazing World of M. C. Escher’, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 until 17th January 2016

M.C. Escher, Day and Night, February 1938, Woodcut in black and grey, 39.2 x 67.8 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

M.C. Escher, Day and Night, February 1938, Woodcut in black and grey, 39.2 x 67.8
cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands
© 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. http://www.mcescher.com

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898–1972) is an artist of great appeal and even though you may think you don’t know his work you will most likely discover that you do from your childhood and teenage years – perhaps even from a Mott the Hoople LP cover, even though he refused Mick Jagger’s request to create one for the Stones. His work has influenced our popular culture; think of films such as Labyrinth, Inception and television programmes like the Family Guy and the Simpsons and even the gaming app Monument Valley.

M.C. Escher, Contrast (Order and Chaos), Feburary 1950, Lithograph, 28 x 28 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands. © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

M.C. Escher, Contrast (Order and Chaos), Feburary 1950, Lithograph, 28 x 28 cm,
Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands.
© 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. http://www.mcescher.com

As this first major UK exhibition which traces his whole career reveals he was a man of huge talent and imagination and one can totally understand why mathematicians find his work intriguing.  The gallery’s Sackler Director Ian A. C. Dejardin sums it up eloquently: “It is difficult to think of an artist with a broader appeal than M C Escher. His images are so magical, and so incredibly clever, that he creates impossible images that feel utterly real, like the very best fantasy writers. Enjoying these impossible realities, it’s easy to overlook the astonishing skill that has gone into the drawing. This exhibition is a revelation; the artist defies categorisation, but Escher is a worthy addition to Dulwich’s wonderful series of exhibitions devoted to graphic artists”.

M.C. Escher, Regular Division of the Plane with Reptiles/ Lizards no.56, November 1942, 22 x 20.7 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands. © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

M.C. Escher, Regular Division of the Plane with Reptiles/ Lizards no.56, November 1942, 22 x 20.7 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands.
© 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. http://www.mcescher.com

The works come together with archive material from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands.

M.C. Escher, Waterfall, October 1961, Lithograph, 38 x 30 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com

M.C. Escher, Waterfall, October 1961, Lithograph, 38 x 30 cm, Collection
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands
© 2015 The M.C. Escher Company-The Netherlands. All rights reserved. http://www.mcescher.com

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Sir John Soane and others

Building a Dialogue: the Architect and the Client, Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2, until 9th May 2015

Joseph Michael Gandy Perspective of eight designs for churches, with plan 1834, Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour, 745 x 1320mm Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Joseph Michael Gandy
Perspective of eight designs for churches, with plan
1834, Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour, 745 x 1320mm
Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

As the title suggests this exhibition examines the relationship between client (state or private) and architect over several centuries, although as one would expect it concentrates on some of Soane’s commissions including the Dulwich Picture Gallery and Marylebone’s Holy Trinity Church, which is now known as the venue One Marylebone.

Sir John Soane Perspective of the East Front of Dulwich Picture Gallery 1812, Pen and ink, and wash, 278 x 440mm Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane
Perspective of the East Front of Dulwich Picture Gallery
1812, Pen and ink, and wash, 278 x 440mm
Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

While not all relationships were fraught the visitor learns how Sir Christopher Wren’s original plans for the Royal Naval Hospital were vetoed by the King as it would have meant the loss of Inigo Jones’ Queens House and of the problems Soane faced with his plans for Holy Trinity Church from both the Commissioners and the Parish.

Joseph Michael Gandy RA Lecture Drawing, Privy Council Chamber c. 1827, Pencil, pen and ink, and watercolour, 950 x 720mm Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Joseph Michael Gandy
RA Lecture Drawing, Privy Council Chamber
c. 1827, Pencil, pen and ink, and watercolour, 950 x 720mm
Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

The exhibition also looks at how architects could “promote” their ability though published works such as The Thorpe Album from the late 16th century or The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam (1778). The Museum’s director Abraham Thomas says of this enjoyable show: “Architectural drawings have a profound ability to record and articulate the various design discussions that occur within an office or between an architect and a client. I’m delighted that this exhibition not only draws upon gems from the Museum’s collection of over 30,000 architectural drawings, but also reminds us that Sir John Soane’s home was the site of a busy architectural practice, embedded in the heart of the building, where such conversations happened every day. The exhibition also makes a connection between historical and contemporary contexts, by exploring the multi-faceted ways in which architects, especially Soane himself, have always engaged with, and re-defined, the notion of a ‘client’ – showing us how design ideas have continued to express themselves through the drawing process, from Soane’s time through to the present day.”

John Thorpe ‘IT’ House from the Thorpe Album c. 1580, Pen and ink, 4310 x 280mm Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

John Thorpe
‘IT’ House from the Thorpe Album
c. 1580, Pen and ink, 4310 x 280mm
Courtesy of Sir John Soane’s Museum

http://www.soane.org