‘The Caged Bird’s Song’

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, Sunley Room, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2, until 28th August 2017

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song, 2014–2017
Wool, cotton and viscose
Triptych, left and right panels each 280 x 184 cm; centre panel 280 x 372 cm
Installation view, Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, National Gallery, 26 April – 28
August 2017
© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers’ Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography: Gautier Deblonde

This is the first time that the Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili has worked in the medium of tapestry but I definitely think and hope that it will not be the last. Once again he looks at mythology for inspiration and combines it with the contemporary and the colour and the magic and tales of Trinidad. Alongside the tapestry woven in Edinburgh’s Dovecot Tapestry Studio, are the preparatory sketches for the piece.

Chris Ofili
The Caged Bird’s Song (She) 1, 2014
Watercolour and charcoal on paper
39.5 x 26.3 cm
15 1/2 x 10 3/8 in
© Chris Ofili
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London

The artist says of it: “The Caged Bird’s Song is a marriage of watercolour and weaving. I set out to challenge the weaving process, by doing something free-flowing in making a watercolour, encouraging the liquid pigment to form the image, a contrast to the weaving process. With their response, which is an interpretation rather than a reproduction, the weavers have paid a type of homage to the watercolour that I gave them as well as to the process of weaving.”

It is quite magical. After the exhibition it will go to The Clothworkers’ Company, who commissioned it, in the City of London and will be on permanent display there.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

An Artistic Friendship

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: MICHELANGELO & SEBASTIANO, North Galleries, The National Gallery, London, until 25th June 2017

 

Sebastiano del Piombo, after partial designs by Michelangelo
Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Pietà), about 1512-16
Oil on poplar
248 × 190 cm
Museo Civico, Viterbo
© Comune di Viterbo

 

The North Galleries of the National Gallery provide a good background for this engaging exhibition which takes us back to Rome in the High Renaissance.  It was a time of war and religious conflict and against this the collaboration and friendship of Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1455-1547) is revealed.

Michelangelo
The Risen Christ, about 1532-3
Black chalk on paper
37.2 × 22.1 cm
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 (RCIN 912768)

The talented oil painter Sebastiano arrived in Rome in 1511 and became part of the city’s vibrant art scene and he soon met Michelangelo who was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. They became friends and were allies against Raphael (1483 – 1520) who had been called to Rome in 1508 by the Pope to undertake the redecoration of the papal apartments.

Sebastiano del Piombo
Letter from Sebastiano del Piombo in Rome to Michelangelo in Florence, 2 July 1518
© Casa Buonarroti, Florence (IX, 468)

Paintings, drawings, letters and sculptures are used to tell the story with some exceptional loans such as the Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c1512-16) which was the first joint collaboration of Sebastiano and Michelangelo. Another of their projects the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (1516–24) – which obviously could not be brought to London – has been realistically re-created using modern technology.

Michelangelo
The Entombment (or Christ being carried to his Tomb), about 1500-1
Oil on poplar
161.7 x 149.9 cm
© The National Gallery, London (NG790)

Lasting over twenty-five years the friendship ended when Michelangelo returned to Rome permanently to paint the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.  The reason for the falling out is thought to have been an argument over painting techniques – a difference which had brought them together but now drove them apart.

HRH The Prince of Wales viewing The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano on 13 March 2017
© The National Gallery, London

This is an exhibition that demands to be seen in the flesh and I warmly urge you to do so.

Michelangelo, finished by an unknown seventeenth century artist
The Risen Christ (‘The Giustiniani Christ’), 1514-15, finished in the early 17th century
Carrara marble
250 (201 without the cross) x 90 x 51 cm
Church of San Vincenzo Martire, Monastero dei Silvestrini, Bassano Romano (Viterbo)
© Photo Alessandro Vasari

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

A gift from Brian Sewell

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée Maternal Affection, 1773 Oil on copper 43.5 x 34.5 cm A gift from the Estate of Brian Sewell, 2016 © The National Gallery, London

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée
Maternal Affection, 1773
Oil on copper
43.5 x 34.5 cm
A gift from the Estate of Brian Sewell, 2016
© The National Gallery, London

In a June 2012 interview in The Daily Telegraph the art critic Brian Sewell recalled that “As a child, there was not a major museum or art gallery in London I didn’t know, and the National Gallery was my favourite.” Indeed these were weekly visits and so it will not come as a surprise that he left a painting to the Gallery.

The painting Maternal Affection is by the French artist Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée (1724-1805) and is the only example of his work in a national collection.  There are eleven other examples of his oeuvre at Stourhead and the Bowes Museum. The style of this painting reflects Lagrenée’s admiration for 17th century Bolognese artists, especially Guido Reni.

 

The Gallery’s Curator of Post-1800 Paintings and acting Curator of 18th century French Painting, Christopher Riopelle sums the gift up saying: “The painting is a beautifully preserved oil on copper of exquisite refinement which allows the National Gallery for the first time to show the work of an artist who was hugely admired by the most discriminating connoisseurs and collectors of contemporary French art, both French and foreign, in the final decades of the 18th century.”

 

It hangs in Room 33 alongside the Gallery’s other 18th century French pictures.

 

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Beyond Caravaggio

Beyond Caravaggio, Sainsbury Wing, The National Gallery, London, until 15th January 2017

As I was unable to attend I asked John Kirkwood to go on my behalf – here are his thoughts:

Mattia Preti, called II Calabrese Draughts Players, about 1635 Oil on canvas 107.9 × 142.2 cm © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Mattia Preti, called II Calabrese
Draughts Players, about 1635
Oil on canvas
107.9 × 142.2 cm
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

This is a very powerful exhibition displaying as it does the amazing influence of the unveiling in Rome of Caravaggio’s first public commission in 1600.  Many artists were so taken with his naturalism and his treatment of light and shade that they went on to imitate him in a style that became known as Caravaggesque and here you will find many examples of this trend.  Some may find the effect of all the gloom of this Caravaggism a little repetitive but there is no denying the artistry on display.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Boy peeling fruit, about 1592-3 Oil on canvas 63 × 53 cm Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Boy peeling fruit, about 1592-3
Oil on canvas
63 × 53 cm
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Cecco del Caravaggio A Musician, about 1615 Oil on canvas 125 × 100 cm The Wellington Collection, Apsely House, London © Historic England

Cecco del Caravaggio
A Musician, about 1615
Oil on canvas
125 × 100 cm
The Wellington Collection, Apsely House, London
© Historic England

 

Guido Reni Lot and his Daughters leaving Sodom About 1615-16 Oil on canvas 111.2 x 149.2 cm The National Gallery, London © The National Gallery, London

Guido Reni
Lot and his Daughters leaving Sodom
About 1615-16
Oil on canvas
111.2 x 149.2 cm
The National Gallery, London
© The National Gallery, London

 

Dirck van Baburen Cimon and Pero (Roman Charity), 1622-3 Oil on canvas 127 x 151 cm York Art Gallery, York Museums Trust © Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

Dirck van Baburen
Cimon and Pero (Roman Charity), 1622-3
Oil on canvas
127 x 151 cm
York Art Gallery, York Museums Trust
© Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artemisia Gentileschi Susannah and the Elders, 1622 Oil on canvas 161.5 × 123 cm © The Burghley House Collection

Artemisia Gentileschi
Susannah and the Elders, 1622
Oil on canvas
161.5 × 123 cm
© The Burghley House Collection

Throwing light on Art

TM Lighting

(Before) The East Gallery, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo Paul Barker © Paul Barker

(Before) The East Gallery, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust).
Photo Paul Barker © Paul Barker

 

(After)The East Gallery, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

(After)The East Gallery, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust).
Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

 

 

 

 

Visitors to Waddesdon Manor this year will notice that the paintings have been re-lit most effectively and this is due to the specialist lighting company TM Lighting who have worked on this project. Founded in 2012 by Andrew Molyneux and Harry Triggs who have twenty years combined experience in lighting design, TM Lighting can transform homes and commercial spaces showing them to greater advantage.  Their approach takes into account both the current energy-saving legislation and the environmental factors of the space they are lighting.

Private Commissions: Marcus Lyon’s Studio

Private Commissions: Marcus Lyon’s Studio

The company provides a bespoke service using the very latest LED technology to achieve the correct light distribution which as these images confirm works wonderfully well in bringing both the art and the rooms into focus. Miranda Rock, Guardian of Burghley House, says of their work in lighting the notable collection of paintings at Burghley that “they are not over-lit and the atmosphere of the house has not been compromised”. LED bulbs are cooler than halogen ones and last much longer.

Burghley House

Burghley House

 

New Masters Exhibition by Darwin, Sinke & Van Tongeren at Jamb and exclusively lit by TM Lighting CREDIT: Ilvy Njiokiktjien

New Masters Exhibition by Darwin, Sinke & Van Tongeren at Jamb and exclusively lit by TM Lighting
CREDIT: Ilvy Njiokiktjien

Among other clients TM lighting have worked for are Weston Park House, Apsley House, the National Gallery, Goodwood, Hampton Court Palace and Armourers’ Hall. They also work with private collectors, dealers and other commercial businesses.  I hope you will agree that they are really rather good at what they do.

Commercial Commission: Fera at Claridges Hotel

Commercial Commission: Fera at Claridges Hotel

 

Apsley House

Apsley House

 

 

 

 

tmlighting.com

 

 

 

(Before) The Dining Room, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

(Before) The Dining Room, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust).
Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

 

(After) The Dining Room, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

(After) The Dining Room, Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust).
Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

From Freud to Van Dyck

Painters’ Paintings – From Feud to Van Dyck, Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London,  until 4th September 2016

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot Italian Woman, or Woman with Yellow Sleeve (L'Italienne) about 1870 Oil on canvas 73 x 59 cm © The National Gallery, London

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Italian Woman, or Woman with Yellow Sleeve (L’Italienne)
about 1870
Oil on canvas
73 x 59 cm
© The National Gallery, London

It really should not come as a surprise that painters may actually collect paintings to both live with and be inspired by whether they are contemporary or not.  The lynch-pin painting in this show is the strong depiction of an Italian Woman by Corot which belonged to the late, great Lucian Freud and which he left to the Nation on his death in 2011.  One can certainly understand why this powerful work would have appealed to Freud.

This exciting and informative exhibition also looks at works that were owned by Matisse, Degas, Frederic, Lord Leighton, Watts, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony van Dyck and they in many ways expand our knowledge of the owners.

Titian The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross Begun about 1540-3, completed about 1550-60 Oil on canvas 206.1 x 288.5 cm © The National Gallery, London

Titian
The Vendramin Family, venerating a Relic of the True Cross
Begun about 1540-3, completed about 1550-60
Oil on canvas
206.1 x 288.5 cm
© The National Gallery, London

 

George Frederic Watts Self Portrait in a Red Robe, about 1853 Oil on canvas 154.9 × 74.9 cm Frame: 179 × 100.5 × 9.5 cm © Watts Gallery (COMWG2014.10)

George Frederic Watts
Self Portrait in a Red Robe, about 1853
Oil on canvas
154.9 × 74.9 cm
Frame: 179 × 100.5 × 9.5 cm
© Watts Gallery (COMWG2014.10)

 

 

Jacopo Tinteretto Jupiter and Semele about 1545 Oil on spruce 22.7 x 65.4 cm © The National Gallery, London

Jacopo Tinteretto
Jupiter and Semele
about 1545
Oil on spruce
22.7 x 65.4 cm
© The National Gallery, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more than eighty works on show combine examples of the artists’ own work with the ones they acquired whether purchased by the artists themselves, received as gifts or bought as investments or status symbols. This is perhaps best summed up by Sir Joshua Reynolds who said“Works of art are models you are to imitate, and at the same time rivals you are to combat”

This is an enlightening show of the painter as collector and one that really has to be seen for its message to be fully appreciated.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Angelica saved by Ruggiero 1819-39 Oil on canvas 47.6 x 39.4 cm © The National Gallery, London

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Angelica saved by Ruggiero
1819-39
Oil on canvas
47.6 x 39.4 cm
© The National Gallery, London

 

Raphael An Allegory (‘Vision of a Knight’) about 1504 Oil on poplar 17.1 x 17.3 cm © The National Gallery, London

Raphael
An Allegory (‘Vision of a Knight’)
about 1504
Oil on poplar
17.1 x 17.3 cm
© The National Gallery, London

 

Paul Gauguin Young Man with a Flower behind his Ear, 1891 Oil on canvas 45.7 × 33.3 cm Property from a distinguished Private Collection, courtesy of Christie's Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images

Paul Gauguin
Young Man with a Flower behind his Ear, 1891
Oil on canvas
45.7 × 33.3 cm
Property from a distinguished Private Collection, courtesy of Christie’s
Photo © Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Rembrandt Lamentation over the Dead Christ, about 1634-1635 Pen and brown ink and brown wash, with red and perhaps some black chalk, reworked in oils ‘en grisaille’; framing lines in thin black oil paint; on paper 21.6 × 25.4 cm © The British Museum, London (Oo,9.103)

Rembrandt
Lamentation over the Dead Christ, about 1634-1635
Pen and brown ink and brown wash, with red and perhaps some black chalk, reworked in oils ‘en grisaille’; framing lines in thin black oil paint; on paper
21.6 × 25.4 cm
© The British Museum, London (Oo,9.103)

Delacroix inspires!

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art, Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London, until 22nd May 2016

Eugène Delacroix The Death of Sardanapalus (reduced replica), 1846 Oil on canvas 73.7 x 82.4 cm © Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986 (1986-26-17)

Eugène Delacroix
The Death of Sardanapalus (reduced replica), 1846
Oil on canvas
73.7 x 82.4 cm
© Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986 (1986-26-17)

This is a very interesting exhibition because while sadly it may not be so much of a crowd drawer as other exhibitions, it tells about an important chapter in 19th century French painting – the story of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) who despite being trained in the Neo-Classical school broke away from that tradition and became as Baudelaire put it ‘a poet in painting’.

Eugène Delacroix Self Portrait, about 1837 Oil on canvas 65 x 54.5 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 25) © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Eugène Delacroix
Self Portrait, about 1837
Oil on canvas
65 x 54.5 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 25)
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Delacroix was an admirer of Rubens and of English painting.  His works with their bold brushstrokes and use of colour were criticised by the establishment as were his choice of subjects but he was supported by his fellow artists such as Courbet. Delacroix wrote in his diary “I dislike reasonable painting.”

Paul Signac (1863-1935) Snow: Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, 1886 Oil on canvas 66 x 43.2 cm © The Minneapolis Institute of Art Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan 61.36.16

Paul Signac (1863-1935)
Snow: Boulevard de Clichy, Paris, 1886
Oil on canvas
66 x 43.2 cm
© The Minneapolis Institute of Art
Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan 61.36.16

While a third of the paintings on show are by Delacroix, the majority are by other artists –Impressionists, Post Impressionists, Symbolists, and Fauves – who were influenced by the genius of his work and also, like him, dared to break the rules and be innovative. As Cézanne aptly summed it up – “We all paint in Delacroix’s language”.

Paul Gauguin Still Life with a Sketch after Delacroix, 1887 Oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg © Photo Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola

Paul Gauguin
Still Life with a Sketch after Delacroix, 1887
Oil on canvas
40 x 30 cm
Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg
© Photo Musées de Strasbourg, M. Bertola

Certainly, to my mind, Delacroix rules over this well worth visiting show.

 

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk