Monday 10 February 2014

Saturday 1st February 2014 - National Gallery.

I love cold and frosty days when they’re mixed with endless blue skies and sunshine; they just seem so perfect and crisp. I hold many amazing memories on days such as this; so when the day begun and the sun was shining across the frosty grass, I knew it was going to be a lovely day.

I had an early morning driving lesson that went well. I say it went well, as I didn't mow anyone down or lose my temper, so A+ for me I suppose!

After I was done burning rubber, I met up with my middle sister, Emma, so we could both go to the National Gallery in Trafalgar square together. We both have never been to this gallery before (check us out, the uncultured club!) so it was nice to experience it with someone who had the same perspective as me and was able to walk around with fresh eyes. 

Emma on the train 

Us being twits

Such beauties right?

Emma was great company to have, as like me, she liked to go from painting to painting and read all the descriptions and stories behind each painting. I enjoyed discussing each one we found interesting, it was lovely to have her with me :)

I got told off by a guard for taking this one haha!

I thoroughly enjoyed the gallery, the building itself was beautiful and grand, but was a complete maze! There were so many different rooms all leading off one another we ended up getting lost several times!

There are some paintings in the gallery that I’m sure will surprise people - I was surprised! There are some well known paintings there, perfect masterpieces that I wouldn't of thought they would be on display here.

There are sections dedicated to Monet, Manet, Van Gough to name a few, but honestly, if you haven't been, go. It’s free! There’s no excuse.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the gallery, but I noted some memorable paintings so I could share them on here.

I haven't included the obvious choices such as the Japanese Bridge Over Pool of Water Lilies or Music in the Tuileries Garden, but instead, just some of the paintings that I personally enjoyed
and thought were interesting or thought provoking.

I have included all the information from the National Gallery's website under each photo so you can at least know the reasoning behind some of them.

 A girl and a window 

Artist - Louis-Léopold Boilly

Painted as a grisaille (a work of varying tones, but a single colour), this picture is intended as an imitation of a mounted engraving, although the subject does not duplicate that of any known print. It is probably a derivative by Boilly of hisSalon picture of 1799.

The composition derives from a type of genre scene popular in 17th-century Holland and which also became popular with collectors in France in the later 18th century. The highly finished style in this picture recalls such 17th-century Dutch painters as Caspar Netscher.

Lord John Stuart and his brother Lord Bernard Stuart 

Artist - Anthony van Dyck

This imposing double portrait shows the youngest sons of the third Duke of Lennox. Lord John Stuart (1621 - 1644), left, and Lord Bernard Stuart (1622 - 1645) were younger brothers of the Duke of Richmond and Lord George Stuart, who also sat for Van Dyck. Both young men fell on the Royalist side in the Civil War.

The brothers were granted leave to make a three-year tour of the Continent in 1639 and may have sat for Van Dyck shortly before their departure. The simple background sets off the aquiline features, confident poses and rich clothing.

The old woman and ugly Duchess

Artist - Quinten Massys

This picture was probably intended to satirise old women who try inappropriately to recreate their youth. Massys has evidently depicted a woman who suffered from Paget’s disease, a malformation of bone. Leonardo da Vinci seems to have been inspired by Massys’s painting.

Portrait of Bibi la Puree

Artist - Pablo Picasso

At the age of 20, Picasso returned to Paris in 1901. Excited by the city’s vibrant art scene and flamboyant characters, he painted with explosive new conviction.
This portrait shows Bibi, a well-known eccentric from bohemian Montmartre. A former actor and inveterate absinthe drinker, he was for sometime private secretary to the poet Paul Verlaine.
Painted in broad, gestural strokes and harsh colours, the portrait captures Bibi’s grotesque energy.

Christ teaching from Saint Peter's boat

Artist - Herman Saftleven

Jesus used Andrew and Peter's boat to preach to the crowds, and then led the fishermen to a miraculous catch of fish. New Testament (Luke 5: 1-10). After this he called on them to be fishers of men. The subject refers to the contemporary theological debate about outdoor preaching. The artist has placed the scene in a fantastic mountainous landscape. The high viewpoint, the vastness of the space and the large number of figures almost obscure the actual event. 

This type of landscape, with its rich colours and precise handling of details, is based on the Flemish tradition represented by Jan Brueghel the Elder and his followers.

Saint Margaret of Antioch

Artist - Francisco de Zurbarán

Most of Zurbarán's paintings of female saints were commissioned as series and executed largely by assistants. In 1647 he received an order for twenty-four canvases of Virgin Saints for Lima, and in 1649 one for fifteen destined for Buenos Aires. His painting of Saint Margaret, probably of the early or mid-1630s, is unusual in being an autograph work and not apparently one of a series. The saint was a virgin martyr of 4th-century Antioch. She was believed to have overcome a dragon and is shown with a shepherd's crook in reference to the legend that she was responsible for grazing the sheep of her nurse.

In Zurburán's painting she is represented in picturesque costume with a saddle bag ('alforjas') over her arm, a book in her hand, and oblivious to the dragon at her side. Her head and dress show to advantage the careful and smooth technique of the painter, attentive to the definition of detail.

Susannah and the elders 

Artist - Guido Reni

This episode is taken from the Old Testament Apocrypha (Susannah 15-24). As the virtuous and beautiful Susannah bathes in her garden, she is approached by two elders who, lusting after her, threaten to accuse her of adultery if she does not sleep with them. She refuses and is falsely accused by them, but her innocence is proved and prevents her from being stoned. Ludovico Carracci also painted a version of 'Susannah and the Elders'.

Since cleaning in 1984, it has been suggested that this work is wholly by Reni. Since the late 18th century it has been hung as a pendant to the artist's 'Lot and his Daughters leaving Sodom'

Witches and their incantations

Artist - Salvator Rosa

Scenes of the occult were rare, though not unknown, in 17th- century Italy. During his years in Florence (1640-9) Rosa produced a number of scenes of witchcraft, of which this (signed) painting is the most ambitious surviving example. It may be the painting referred to in a letter by Rosa of 1666 as having been painted twenty years earlier and one of his finest, and it is probably contemporary with one of Rosa's poems entitled 'The Witch'.

Spells are cast in the centre, below a man hanged from a withered tree. The brightly illuminated foreground is contrasted with the nocturnal landscape behind.

 Emma as we were leaving...

Us being twits again...

So that was our adventure for the day and another resolution completed

I hope you enjoyed this, have you ever been to the National Gallery? If so, what was your favorite painting or section? If not, what other galleries would you recommend?

Take care all.



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