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Exhibition Review : Van Gogh and Britain at Tate Britain from 27 March to 11 August 2019


Tate Britain presents a major exhibition about Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The exhibition entitled Van Gogh and Britain explores Van Gogh’s relationship with British art, literature and culture and how Van Gogh’s work inspired British artists like Walter Sickert, Frank Brangwyn, Matthew Smith, Jacob Epstein, David Bomberg and Francis Bacon.

The exhibition includes over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections around the world which is the largest group of Van Gogh paintings shown in the UK for nearly a decade. Van Gogh and Britain is the first exhibition of the artist’s work at Tate in over 70 years, when a blockbuster show in 1947 attracted record-breaking crowds. The exhibition was a phenomenon in London and went on to tour to Birmingham and Glasgow.

Some of the highlights include Self-Portrait 1889, L’Arlésienne 1890, Starry Night on the Rhône 1888, Shoes 1886 and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery in London. The exhibition also features late works including two painted by Van Gogh in the Saint-Paul asylum, At Eternity’s Gate 1890 and Prisoners Exercising 1890.

Van Gogh spent time in London between 1873 and 1876 and explored British culture during his stay. He admired works by John Constable and John Everett Millais and enjoyed British writers like William Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti and especially Charles Dickens. Despite this influence, his only image of London is the remarkable Prisoners Exercising, from Gustave Doré’s print of Newgate Prison.

The period in London was to influence Van Gogh in other way, his unrequited love for this landlady’s daughter led to change of character from relatively carefree to someone obsessed with religion. Dore’s work and Dickens played a major role in his development as an artist especially regarding subject matter. He wrote that ‘My whole life is aimed at making the things from everyday life that Dickens describes and these artists draw’.

The self portraits created during the 1880s show a man driven to capture the world around him with landscapes like Wheatfield Arles 1888, Autumn Landscape at Dusk Nuenen 1885, Avenue of Poplars in Autumn Nuenen 1884 and Olive Trees, St Remy 1889.

He also began to paint workers including Miners in the Snow Cuesmes 1880 and Loom with Weaver Nuenen 1884.

The Sorrowing old man 1890 gives some indication of the time when Van Gogh is descending into mental illness and ultimately his suicide.

Although Van Gogh died in relative obscurity, the Van Gogh exhibition of 1947 began to illustrate that people and artists attitudes were changing. The art works brightened up post war Britain when people were looking for a new beginning after the tragedy of the war. Modern British artists like Matthew Smith, Christopher Wood and David Bomberg saw new possibilities with their art and Francis Bacon saw himself like Van Gogh, the embattled, misunderstood artist, an art outsider.

This fascinating exhibition is a reminder of the often cruel twist of fate that befall artists. Van Gogh commits suicide because of his lack of success and recognition. Over 100 years later, Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the world and his paintings sell for millions. This exhibition provides the opportunity to understand the role that Britain played in that transformation. The influence of Dore and Dickens were considerable but it is the remarkable intensity and dynamism of some of the paintings that generally appeal to a modern audience. The exhibition of 1947 was a turning point for the appreciation of Van Gogh in the UK, this exhibition confirms his status as one of the great artists.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Britain website here

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Exhibition Review – Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light at the National Gallery from 18 March to 7 July 2019

The National Gallery presents the first major exhibition in the United Kingdom for over a century of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923). The exhibition entitled Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light include portraits, landscapes, garden views, and beach scenes. There are sixty works on display which spans the artist’s career, including important works on loan from public and private collections in Europe and the United States.

This will be the first UK retrospective of the artist since 1908 when Sorolla himself mounted an exhibition at London’s Grafton Galleries where he was promoted as The World’s Greatest Living Painter. Sorolla is best known for his sun-drenched depictions of the life, landscapes and traditions of Spain, as well as his gifts as a portraitist.

Sorolla studied in Madrid and Rome and gained an international reputation for works tackling social subjects. The exhibition features a series of his early social paintings including his The Return from Fishing (1894), Sewing the Sail (1896) and Sad Inheritance! (1899).

The first room includes portraits of Sorolla’s wife Clotilde as well as his daughters María and Elena, and son Joaquín. Family played a very important role in Sorolla’s life and his family are used as models. In this room is also Sorolla’s reclining Female Nude (1902) which was inspired by Velázquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’ (1651).

The second room focuses on the 1890s, when Sorolla began to document some the realities and hardships of Spanish life. His first great success, Another Marguerite! (1892) depicted a woman arrested for murdering her child. His other large works from this period were sent to exhibitions across Europe and were part of the reason he gained an international reputation.

The third room illustrates how Sorolla considered himself as part of great tradition of Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Goya, whose works he closely studied. The influence of Velázquez is clearly shown in the portrait of the American painter Ralph Clarkson of 1911, My Children (1904) and The Drunkard (1910).

Room Four introduces viewers to some of Sorolla’s best known work, Boys on the Beach (1909), Running along the Beach, Valencia (1909) and Afternoon at the Beach in Valencia (1904) are examples of how Sorolla manages to capture the sunlight and the sea and people’s enjoyment of a day at the beach. Sorolla had grown up by the coast and would often paint out-of-doors, documenting the various scenes on the beaches close to Valencia and Jávea. These scenes proved very popular especially in the United States and led to a number of commissions.

Room Five contains one of these commissions for the Hispanic Society of America in New York in 1911. He created a large mural-like series of paintings entitled Vision of Spain. Painted between 1911 and 1919, they documented some of the country’s regional dress, occupations, and traditions.

The sixth room of the exhibition is devoted to Sorolla’s views of landscapes and gardens. Sorolla’s love of the outdoor life and search for interesting lighting led him to create a range of studies ranging from Sierra Nevada from the Cemetery, Granada (1909), Burgos Cathedral under Snow, and the gardens of the Alcázar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada.

The final room illustrates Sorolla’s fascination with family, but in contrast the formality of the first room, we have large canvases painted out-of-doors such as Skipping Rope, La Granja (1907),Strolling along the Seashore (1909) and The Siesta (1911). In these paintings, Sorolla had finally found his own style which celebrated family and the enjoyment of the outdoor life.

Sorolla died in 1923 and his reputation went into something of a decline, there are very few paintings by Sorolla in UK public collections. However, this interesting exhibition provides evidence that Sorolla excelled in creating large canvases that takes viewers to the beach or other outdoor locations and captures the light, life and movement. In many ways it was when he came out of the shadows of Velázquez and Goya that he found his true voice that has some similarities with Impressionism.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Only Human: Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 March to 27 May 2019

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Only Human: Martin Parr which features works by one of Britain’s best-known and acclaimed photographers.

The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work by Parr never exhibited before. The exhibition examines national identity, both in the UK and abroad with a special focus on Parr’s well known observations of Britishness.

Parr made his reputation as a photographer in the 1980s, exploring the world of leisure activities. Parr carries on this theme with photographs of trips to the beach, tennis tournaments and a day at the races. It is these places where the public and private meet and where people can play with their identities, dressing up in a variety of ways. Another popular theme for Parr is dancing, the photographer documents people dancing across the globe.

Although best known for his portraits of ordinary people, Parr has photographed celebrities throughout his career. The exhibition features a selection of portraits of personalities often in unusual settings, most of which have never been exhibited before, including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and Pelé.

A lesser known aspect of Parr’s work is his self-portraits, for over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The section entitled Autoportraits explores portraiture and portrait photography with a wide range of serious and humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.

Parr’s Photo Escultura is a group of shrine-like carved photo-sculptures commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker of this type of work in Mexico City.

The exhibition features a section of the British Abroad and Parr’s well known study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the eccentricities and ceremonies of elites in British life.

In the final room, new and previously unseen photographs reveals Parr’s documenting the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The exhibition also includes a pop up ‘caff’ and shop which has lots of ‘paraphernalia’ developed from Parr’s photography.

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the ‘British identity’ is often an ‘illusion’ produced for public display. In a public arena, people often dress up in a way that illustrates their ‘Britishness’. But how representative is this show of patriotic fervour ? Images like those in the exhibition seem to perpetuate and challenge stereotypes in equal measure. Underlying the humour of Parr’s work, there is serious questions of how ‘identity’ is forged by the individual and wider society.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review: The Renaissance Nude at the Royal Academy from 3 March to 2 June 2019

The Royal Academy of Arts present a new exhibition entitled The Renaissance Nude which explores how nudes have been used in some of the world’s most renowned masterpieces. The Renaissance Nude exhibition features around 90 works in a variety of media including paintings, sculptures as well as drawings, prints and illuminated manuscripts from different regions of Europe.

The exhibition examines the emergence of the nude visual tradition and how it changed the character and values of European art. The exhibition feature works by artists including Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Jan Gossaert, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

Although nude sculptures have been common since ancient times, nude paintings have a less obvious history. Religious organisations in particular were keen that nudes should inspire belief and not titillate the congregation. The Renaissance Nude exhibition examines art made in North and Southern Europe and considers some of the contrasts between the two approaches.

The exhibition is organised around five main themes, The Nude and Christian Art focuses on episodes from the Old and New Testament. Humanism and the Expansion of Secular Themes is devoted to mythological stories and classical art. Artistic Theory and Practice explores life drawing and the study of anatomy and proportion. Beyond the Ideal Nude looks at the vulnerability of the human condition. The final section, Personalising the Nude highlights the role of Renaissance patrons.

Even though, the exhibition covers a relatively short period between 1400 and 1530, it quickly becomes apparent that the idea of the ‘Renaissance Nude’ is a little misleading. Many people would consider Titian’s Venus Rising from the Sea (‘Venus Anadyomene’), c. 1520 as representative of this view, however the exhibition provides evidence that nudes were much more diverse and often reflected ideas of beauty within a particular cultural group.

Albrecht Dürer’s engraving Adam and Eve, 1504, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s A Faun and His Family with a Slain Lion, c. 1526 and Jan Gossaert’s Hercules and Deianira, 1517 offers a more medieval view of the nude. The remarkable Jean Bourdichon’s Bathsheba Bathing take from the Hours of Louis XII, 1498/99 illustrates that even in sacred texts, visions of womanly beauty could be included.

It was probably in the depiction of mythological stories and classical art, that the nude was used most extensively and experimentally. Agnolo Bronzino’s Saint Sebastian, c. 1533, Jan Gossaert, Christ on the Cold Stone, c. 1530 and Pietro Perugino, Apollo and Daphnis, c. 1495 offer unusual depictions.

There were a number of artists who wished to go beyond the surfaces both literary and emotionally, the exhibition includes some of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings and drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo.

This intriguing exhibition gives viewers the opportunity to see the Renaissance Nude in a different light. As the nude became an increasingly dominant role in the visual arts, it was used in a variety of sacred and secular contexts. Whether used in small, intimate objects to large decorative projects that filled church interiors and palaces, the Renaissance Nude led to a series of developments that led to new ideas of humanity and the human form.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Academy website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review – Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life at the National Gallery from 28 February to 19 May 2019

The National Gallery presents the first-ever exhibition in the UK devoted to Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) who was considered one of the most important artists of Revolutionary France. The main part of the exhibition is 18 paintings from a British private collection which have never been displayed or published before. The paintings were collected by British property developer Harry Hyams over the course of the last 60 years.

Boilly was born near Lille in 1761 and developed his artistic talent by painting portraits. In 1785 he moved to Paris and built a business selling small portraits of individuals and families within intimate domestic scenes. From 1791, Boilly regularly exhibited portraits and genre scenes at the Paris Salons. However, his private patrons dwindled after the outbreak of the Revolution and he began to painting boudoir scenes that could to be reproduced by printmakers.

Many of these paintings had romantic or mildly risqué subject matter: Comparing Little Feet (1891) uses a seemingly innocent competition between two young women as a means of exposing their legs, whereas works such as Two Young Women Kissing (about 1790–4,) are more explicitly erotic. Although these risqué pictures may have bought in badly needed finances, it did expose Boilly to charges of obscenity. After being denounced by a fellow artist, he was taken before the infamous Committee of Public Safety and accused of painting works that were damaging to republican morals.

These serious charges could have been fatal, but Boilly fortunately escaped imprisonment and began to work on genre paintings for public exhibition. Genre paintings where often considered a rather lowly type of art but Boilly began to use the genre to tell the story of the ever-changing Parisian life. The painting that elevated his reputation was The Meeting of Artists in Isabey’s Studio (1798).

This success led to Boilly at the turn of the 19th century to begin to produce ambitious urban landscapes. In these scenes, Boilly became one of the first French artists to paint views of everyday life on Paris’s streets and boulevards. Boilly’s street scenes can be characterised by their attention to detail with a number of narratives being acted out.

In the painting The Poor Cat (1832) a child picks a pocket while a family of beggars slumps on the pavement.

The Barrel Game (about 1828) features a game outside a wine shop with shady goings-on in the background.

In A Carnival Scene (1832) is one of Boilly’s most ambitious street scene with a large number of costumed characters parading through the streets of Paris.

Although his genre paintings were admired, portraiture still played an important role in Boilly’s career, he considered he had produced around 5,000 small portraits in his lifetime. These portraits were a steady source of income and Boilly used to boast he could produce a small portrait in just two hours.

The exhibition includes a number of portraits including Portrait of the Comtesse François de Sainte-Aldegonde (about 1800–5) and Portrait of a Lawyer (first quarter of the 19th century).

It has been suggested that when he was looking for artificial aids to create faster portraits, he came across the method which he named trompe l’oeil to describe illusionistic paintings that “deceived the eye” by depicting objects in three dimensions. In the National Gallery’s Girl at a Window (after 1799), although it is painted in oil on canvas, it gives the illusion that it is a print in a mount.

This fascinating small free exhibition is the latest of a series of exhibitions at the National Gallery where a certain artist or picture are showcased which allows the viewers to really understand some of the stories behind the artist or picture. Boilly’s artistic production was diverse and prolific because he was always exploring ways to make a living out of his talent. He did not have the connections or perhaps skills to attract rich patrons, therefore he had to find ways to supplement his income. He may have remained relatively obscure except for political events that forced him to change from portraits and slightly risqué pictures to genre pictures that provided a snapshot of Parisian people who were living through the Revolution of 1789, the Terror, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the restoration of the French monarchy.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the National Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review: Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern – 27 February to 9 June 2019

Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of the work of American artist Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012). The exhibition is the first large-scale exhibition of her work for 25 years and the first ever to span Tanning’s seven-decade career. The exhibition brings together around 100 works from around the world and includes over a third of which are shown in the UK for the first time. Tanning worked in a range of media from paintings, drawings, stuffed textile sculptures and installations.

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois and was fascinated by Gothic and Romantic literature. In the 1930s, she decided to move to Chicago then New York to pursue her artist career. She first encountered surrealism in New York in the 1930s and was instantly attracted to exploring the subconscious in her work. Tanning met German painter Max Ernst in 1942 and they married in 1946.

Tanning began to plumb her own subconscious depths with early works that takes ordinary domestic scenes and introduces gothic scenes that are full of strange imagery. Works from this period such as Children’s Games 1942 and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 1943 are full of suppressed desires and burgeoning sexuality where open doors represent portals to other places.

Tanning applied these types of symbolism to self-portrait Birthday 1942 which she believed marked her ‘birth’ as a surrealist.

Doors and domestic settings became common motifs in the early part of her career with works like La Truite au bleu (Poached Trout), Some Roses and Their Phantoms and Portrait de famille (Family Portrait).

Tanning held a life-long passion for dance, music and performance and produced set and costume designs for ballets by George Balanchine and John Cranko in the late 1940-50s. These are shown with a series of dynamic figurative paintings such as Tango Lives 1977 that explore movement and sensuality.

In the mid-1960s, Tanning used her Singer sewing machine to make a highly original ‘family’ of soft sculptures that are a main focus of the exhibition. These hand-crafted sculptures are often like body parts that become contorted and intertwined objects. Works like Étreinte 1969 and Nue Couchée 1969-70 illustrate these transformations as does the remarkable room-sized installation Chambre 202, Hôtel du Pavot 1970-3.

After the death of Ernst in 1976, Tanning returned to New York and experimented with her soft sculptures that became objects that straddle the line between playful and sinister. Her later paintings followed this idea of transformation where bodies and nature merge in Poppies 1987 and On Avalon 1987.

This fascinating exhibition takes viewers into the strange and wonderful world of Dorothea Tanning. Her style is similar to Salvador Dali but with a Gothic twist that creates worlds full of symbolism and unconscious desires. Tanning is not widely known in the UK and this exhibition offers the viewer to explore her extraordinary career. In many respects, her strange worlds are oddly familiar which suggests she was perhaps ahead of her time and something of a pioneer.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
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Exhibition Review – Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver at the National Portrait Gallery from 21 February to 19 May 2019


The National Portrait Gallery presents the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years. The exhibition entitled Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver brings together key works from the National Portrait Gallery and major loans from public and private collections.

The exhibition centres on the careers of two of the most skilled artists of the period, Nicholas Hilliard (1547? – 1619) and Isaac Oliver (c.1565 – 1617). It was considered that the portrait miniatures of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods by these two artists were of the highest quality, Hilliard and Oliver were highly regarded and gained international fame.

The exhibition explores the society and status role that the miniatures played in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Miniatures were highly prized by  monarchs, courtiers and the rising middle classes because they were a means of gaining favour, showing loyalty and expressing close relationships.

An example of how they were used is Nicholas Hilliard’s ‘Peace with Spain’ medal 1604 which is the only medal linked to Hilliard. Only 12 examples of the gold medal were made for the most favoured courtiers, silver and bronze for those down the pecking order at court. The miniatures were often set into ornate jewelled cases and worn around the neck, pinned to clothing or secretly concealed.

The main part of the exhibition is devoted to Hilliard and Oliver’s portraits of Elizabeth I, as well as images of James I, his wife Anne of Denmark and his three children Henry, Elizabeth and Charles (later Charles I).

Miniatures of some of the most famous figures of the day, including Elizabeth I (playing a lute), Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake are displayed. Other highlights of the exhibition are Young Man among Roses by Hilliard and Hilliard’s Unknown Man against a Background of Flames, both on loan from the V&A.

Also in the exhibition are drawings by Hilliard and Oliver that illustrate their artistic qualities and large portraits of Hilliard and Queen Elizabeth I.

One unusual artistic role for Hilliard was to provide portraits for charters and legal documents as illustrated by the Midmay Charter from 1583-84.

This fascinating exhibition takes viewers into the often murky world of Tudor and Jacobean politics. Miniatures played a role in the elaborate processes of friendship, love, patronage and diplomacy. The stakes in the game were high and often a case of life and death. Hilliard and Oliver’s remarkable miniatures introduce us to some of the movers and shakers of the court and royal personages in all their glory.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here