Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 16th September 2018

A Magus at a Table by Jan Lievens (Leyden 1607 ¿ Amsterdam 1674)

A Magus at a Table, Jan Lievens, 1631-2 © National Trust Images – Angelo Hornak

What a glorious summer but regrettably mine was less so as for the last 8 + weeks have been lost to a persistent, debilitating infection which has taken ever stronger courses of antibiotics to overcome – so fingers crossed victory is in sight.  It has meant that I am very behind in my writing. I should perhaps remember to ‘take the waters’ when next visiting Bath!

ST KATHERINE'S CHURCH, UTRECHT by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597-1665), at Upton House, Warwickshire

St Catherine’s Church Utrecht, Pieter Jansz Saenredam, 1636 © National Trust Images

I have visited six of the dozen houses from which this delicious selection of Dutch paintings has been garnered but sadly, so far, not the rest of them. Seeing those pictures that I know again was very much a journey into the past because in some cases it is almost fifty years since I first saw them and yet their beauty and the skill of the artist’s use of paint – for example Ter Borch’s exquisite rendering of a dress (Polesden Lacey) or Cuyp’s Dordrecht sky (Ascott) – has kept them fresh in my mind’s eye.

SELF PORTRAIT WEARING A WHITE FEATHERED BONNET by Rembrandt van Rijn.

Self-Portrait Wearing a White Feathered Bonnet, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1635 © National Trust Images – Chris Titmus

Portraits (people and houses), landscapes, genre scenes, interiors and still-lifes are among the subjects that make up the works on view. In some cases artists collaborated such as in the landscape from Petworth where the painter Hobbema has worked with Adriaen van de Velde who contributed the figural elements to the composition.

The Duet ('Le corset bleu') by Gabriel Metsu (Leyden 1629 ¿ Amsterdam 1669)

The Duet, Gabriel Metsu, 1660-7 © National Trust Images – Christopher Hurst

It is a wonderful journey back into the Dutch 17th century and it makes it easy to understand why ever since they were first painted such works have been so avidly collected and admired, including by  Sir Thomas William Holburne, founder of the Museum.

 

After the Holburne the exhibition will move on to the Mauritshuis in The Hague in October 2018, and then come to Petworth House in West Sussex in January 2019.

 

 

www.holburne.org

OUT & ABOUT: Blain|Southern

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

If you did not catch Benar Venet’s first solo exhibition in London since 1976 at Blain|Southern recently then you have an opportunity to see his works in the grounds of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Regarded by many as the foremost living French sculptor, ten large-scale works await discovery in the glorious formal gardens and spaces of Cliveden and can be seen there until mid-October.

 

nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

 

http://www.blainsouthern.com/

Bouke de Vries

Bouke de Vries -“Fractured Images”, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery Ltd., 533 Old York Road, London SW18, 8th June – 15th July 2017 

 

Grown from Chinese clay, 2017
18th century Chinese porcelain fragments and mixed media
150x120x580

I believe that we owe a great debt of gratitude to Bouke de Vries for his belief, which reflects that held in China and Japan, that broken important ceramic pieces are worthy of repair. He has said “I wanted to give these objects, which are regarded as valueless, a new story and move their history forwards. A broken object can still be as beautiful as a perfect object.” It is a great philosophy and thanks to his artistic imagination and great skill – he is a ceramics conservator – he has created some wonderful pieces.

Map of china of China, 2017
18th and 19th century Chinese porcelain fragments and mixed media
11220×960 mm

This show of works reflect the enduring role of China in the production of ceramics worldwide over the centuries. His works are thought-provoking, sometimes humorous, but always engrossing. He has specially created a new non-ceramic work for the exhibition – a plaster doll of a Chinese dancer which combines the old with the new through his use of computer circuit boards.

Jar carrier, 2017
Han dynasty figure and 15th century Chinese porcelain marine archaeology jars and marble
250x250x109 mm

 

www.kristinhjellegjerde.com

 

 

PS: You can also see:
Bouke De Vries: War and pieces, Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
Until 05 November 2017

 

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

Garnitures at the V&A

Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust HousesV&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, until 30th April 2017

Set of Chinese porcelain vases, 17th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Set of Chinese porcelain vases, 17th century,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This exhibition is a partnership between the National Trust and the V&A and is well worth visiting.

It consists of a mixture of ceramic and silver vases that truly do reflect the wealth and taste of their original owners in the 17th to 19th centuries when the garniture had its heyday. Garnitures usually consist of an odd number of vases which are united by their decoration and they would be displayed symmetrically on mantelpieces, on door cases and on the top of furniture.

Covered pot-pourri vase from Upton House, Warwickshire, soft-paste porcelain, 1762 – 64, Chelsea factory, London, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Covered pot-pourri vase from Upton House, Warwickshire, soft-paste porcelain, 1762 – 64, Chelsea factory, London, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

The first such sets were made up from pieces of Chinese porcelain in the 17thcentury but eventually they were made as sets in both China and Japan and of course from the 18th century onwards by British and European porcelain factories.  The decline in the popularity of garnitures meant that many were split up – a Sevres set from Upton House proves this point – and so complete sets are rare nowadays.

Three-piece ‘Hamilton’ vases from Saltram, Devon, about 1770 – 80, black basalt, Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria, Staffordshire, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Three-piece ‘Hamilton’ vases from Saltram, Devon, about 1770 – 80, black basalt, Wedgwood and Bentley, Etruria, Staffordshire, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

The National Trust’s External Adviser on Ceramics, Patricia Ferguson, who has worked alongside the V&A’s senior curator Reino Liefkes, said: : “This display promises to change the way you see historic vases; they were almost always designed to be part of a set”.  She is also the author of the accompanying V&A and National Trust exhibition book: Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses.

Five-piece chimney garniture from Blickling Hall, about 1804 – 7, soft-paste porcelain, Barr, Flight and Barr factory, Worcester, England. © National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

Five-piece chimney garniture from Blickling Hall, about 1804 – 7, soft-paste porcelain, Barr, Flight and Barr factory, Worcester, England.
© National Trust. Photograph Robert Morris

vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/garnitures

At home with the Gee Family

Lives, Loves and Loss: Traces at Fenton House, Fenton House and Garden, Hampstead Grove, London NW3, until 23rd December 2016

Lives Loves and Loss - Traces at Fenton House Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Lives Loves and Loss – Traces at Fenton House
Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Fenton House is a delightful 17th century brick merchant’s house with a walled garden that was left to the National Trust in 1952 by Lady Binning.  This month it has been transformed by Traces, a group of curators and makers, into a different multi-sensory world.

Lives Loves and Loss - Traces at Fenton House Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Lives Loves and Loss – Traces at Fenton House
Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

They take us into the world of the Gee family in 1730. The family were important silk and linen merchants in London who resided at Fenton House at that time. The visitor equipped with a chamberstick (battery version) wanders through the abandoned rooms and learns, as the title suggests, about the goings on of their lives.  The rooms are specially lit to give an idea of how life was before gaslight or electricity. To help tell the story the work of eighty contemporary artists has been used and the good news is that these art works can be purchased.

Lives Loves and Loss - Traces at Fenton House Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Lives Loves and Loss – Traces at Fenton House
Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

National Trust London’s Creative Director, Joseph Watson, comments: “Known for its rich history and inspiring collections the best of contemporary craft, design and art seemed the perfect way to tell this part of Fenton House’s story. Offering an escape from the bustle of Christmas, we are certain visitors will be amazed by the transformation that Traces have brought to this historic London home.”

Diana Bliss Annies Apron Lives Loves and Loss - Traces at Fenton House Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Diana Bliss Annies Apron Lives Loves and Loss – Traces at Fenton House
Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

 

Opening Hours
Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th, 11am – 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)
Thursday 8th, Thursday 15th, 5.30pm – 8.30pm (last admission at 8pm)
Saturday 10th – Sunday 11th, 11am – 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)
Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd, 11am – 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)
All tickets must be booked in advance, including for National Trust members, from http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fenton-house-and-garden, 0344 249 1895
Admission National Trust members – free
Adult day – £10
Child day – £5
Adult evening (includes complimentary drink) – £15
Please note that the evening openings are not suitable for children under the age of 18. Ticket price applies to all, including National Trust members, for evening admission.
Lives Loves and Loss - Traces at Fenton House Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

Lives Loves and Loss – Traces at Fenton House
Photo by Sophia Schorr-Kon

 

@NTLovesLondon, @NTFentonHouse, @traceslondon

Diplomatic Residences revealed

National Trust ‘opens’ three London embassies to celebrate Heritage Open Days, Friday 9th– Saturday 10th September 2016

National Trust Embassies Tours - Portuguese Embassy

National Trust Embassies Tours – Portuguese Embassy

Although it appears to be fully booked I thought I would still share this with you. The opening of embassy residences (Portuguese, French and Danish) provides visitors with a chance to see and appreciate the fine and decorative arts of the countries concerned.

National Trust Embassies Tours - Danish Embassy

National Trust Embassies Tours – Danish Embassy

These are often important pieces such as the Dame Paula Rego masterpiece at the Portuguese Embassy or the tapestries in the French residence – interestingly enough two Hubert Robert paintings from there are in the Hubert Robert exhibition in Washington DC.  The Danish Embassy is the last work by their celebrated designer and architect Arne Jacobsen.

National Trust Embassies Tours - French Embassy

National Trust Embassies Tours – French Embassy

If this is as successful as I am sure it will be then let us hope that more embassy residences will open their doors so that it becomes a regular feature of London’s diplomatic life.

 

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/embassy-openings