Monday, July 06, 2015

National Gallery

You can only spend so much time in a state of awe. I planned to spend hours in the National Gallery, but after about three hours, we burned out. Our aged brains just don't work the way they used to. At some point, the greatest masterpieces in the world start blending together and all you want to do is sit down. Breaking our visit into two days helped a lot as did forgetting about the guide books
and simply wandering around stopping at anything that caught our eye. Like we share one eye....I mean anything that caught either Richard's or my attention.

Although the galleries were crowded, behavior was civil and we could view everything without fighting for position. There was a large group of children wandering around with pencils and paper, plopping on the floor sketching what they liked. They were having fun and we enjoyed watching them get lost and dreamy eyed, hunched over their creations. 

Gainsborough didn't complete this painting...I believe he died before it was completed. The older girl's right arm is painted as to be tweaking the tail of a cat perched on their laps. You can see the pencilled-in sketch of the cat if you look closely. Barbara, who along with Nancy, taught me to look closely, will be sure to see the cat. 
The scene here is all happiness and smiles; behind the children, the cat is terrorizing the bird. Father Time is doing something in the upper left. All is not sweetnesss and light in Hogarth's portrait of The Graham Children, painted in 1742.

More big cats here in bad situations. I love the movement in this Reubens (The Lion Hunt) even though the subject is grisly. 

What a dress!! Look at the detail on the fabric in the close up. The painting is by Francois-Hubert Drouais "Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame". Although she was born to a bourgeois family, she became a mistress to King Louis XV and remained his friend long after that relationship ended. 

Without magnification, you can't imagine how delicate and life-like the fabric is. The actual painting isn't lit well enough and you can't get close enough. The joys of digital photography. 
Jesus, learning to read. Looks a bit young for that sort of thing. I liked the frame, the light and the fact that Joseph is almost out of the frame making Mary and Jesus the whole focus. Joseph was always playing the supporting role. 
Here's another clever reflection effect in a portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

I think I found the martlet; it's not easy to see.
Liked the blue in this. "Virgin and Child in a Landscape". The painter, Grazio Gentileschi, painted on lapis lazuli frequently, as was the fashion at the time. You could get hooked on adding that majestic and arresting color to whatever was on the easel.

More beautiful blue. This painting is hung in the top row and yet I noticed most people tried to 
capture it on their cell phones by standing on tip toe. I wondered why they didn't re-position such a popular work. 

Overall, the National Gallery is great to're free to wander and the collections make some sense. Trying to find particular galleries is frustrating because they aren't in sequence. A minor criticism in the face of superb organization and the best price ever....FREE. There's excellent marketing and the gift shops are scattered here and there so plenty of opportunity to spend money of every kind of museum related souvenier. The cash registers were ringing merrily away and people seem inclined to cough up some cash for gee gaws given what they've saved on admission. 

Caravaggio..way, way out there for 1500. His depiction of boys brings up the question of his sexuality. Most of the young men in his paintings look like girls and there is an erotic undertone to them. This boy
s reaction to a lizard bite looks feminine to me; some art scholars speculate the painting is an allegory on the sting of love...or lost love? Caravaggio was, according to Wikipedia, a street brawler and in trouble with the law for much of his life. 

I think this is the same boy - he has a similar abundance of hair, and the off-the-shoulder white shirt reveals similar shapely shoulders.
So much for day 1. 

1 comment:

  1. I can't see the cat in the Gainsborough. I do see a girls face in the older sisters bodice, though. Or do I ? I love the cat and bird in the Hogarth. They're more interesting than the children. Madame Pompadour's gown is unbelievable. Caravaggio's life needs a little more looking into ! Interesting.
    It would have been fun to be with you on this trip through the gallery. But this blog post was almost as good. Barbara