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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

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Exhibition Review – Monochrome: Painting in Black and White at the National Gallery from 30th October 2017 to 18th February 2018

The National Gallery presents a world of dark and light in its exhibition entitled Monochrome: Painting in Black and White. The exhibition explores how artists have used the power of black and white with more than fifty painted objects created over 700 years.

Paintings and drawings by Old Masters such as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres appear alongside works by contemporary artists including Gerhard Richter, Chuck Close and Bridget Riley.

The exhibition takes visitors through five rooms which explore how artists have used painting in black, white and grey, also known as grisaille for a variety of reasons.

The earliest surviving works of Western art made in grisaille were created in the Middle Ages, often for devotional purposes. For many religious orders, simplicity and austerity was favoured and paintings in black and white took on a profound spiritual element. The first room is dominated by the large Agony in the Garden painted in 1538.

For centuries, artists have made drawings in black and white to find ways of how light and shade worked in particular compositions before committing to a full colour painting. From the Middle Ages, paintings in grisaille began to be produced as independent works of art. Generally these type of paintings were prized for the skill of the artist and their use as devotional pieces. The exhibition shows one of the most outstanding examples of grisaille oil painting with Jan van Eyck’s Annunciation Diptych (1433-35) . The Figures painted in white tones on black backgrounds resemble sculptures standing within stone niches. Other highlights in this section include works by Pablo Picasso, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Alberto Giacometti and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Other artists produced paintings that provided decorative 3D illusions that took on the appearance of stone sculpture. Jacob de Wit excelled at this type of painting and his Jupiter and Ganymede (1739, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull) could easily be mistaken for a three-dimensional wall relief.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, painters began to respond to the new developments in printmaking with works that looked like a print but was actually a painting. The exhibition shows one of the finest examples of this type of painting with the exceptionally rare grisaille work by Hendrik Goltzius, Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze (1606) .

The invention of photography in the 19th century led to painters imitating some of the qualities of the media. Gerhard Richter employed a press photograph of a prostitute who had been brutally murdered as the foundation of his painting Helga Matura with Her Fiancé (1966).

Perhaps the purest form of Black and White paintings has been undertaken by Abstract and Installation artists. In 1916, Russian artist Kazimir Malevich took this to its ultimate with his revolutionary work, Black Square (1929) . A black square floating within a white-painted frame was declared  to be a new kind of non-representational art. Other artists in the exhibition who have been attracted to this type of abstraction include Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly and Bridget Riley.

At the end of the exhibition, Olafur Eliasson’s large-scale, immersive light installation, Room for one colour (1997) suppresses all other light frequencies and allows visitors to enter a monochrome world.

This unusual and interesting exhibition offers the opportunity to explore an artistic world full of black, white and grey. The works on display illustrate the great strength of working with a limited palette enabling artists to experiment with the various forms, textures, light and shade. This explains why many artists create black and white drawings before committing to a full colour painting. Perhaps more surprising is that religious orders from the Middle Ages onwards saw the lack of colour as somehow more sacred. However it is probably within Abstraction that Black and White find its purest expression.

Video Review available here

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, 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 – The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt at the National Portrait Gallery from 13th July to 22nd October 2017

The National Portrait Gallery presents its first exhibition of old master European portrait drawings, the exhibition entitled The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt (13 July – 22 October 2017), includes works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Annibale Carracci, François Clouet, Albrecht Dürer, Anthony Van Dyck, Benozzo Gozzoli, Hans Holbein the Younger, Antonio di Puccio Pisano (Pisanello), Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Francesco Salviati and Leonardo da Vinci. Many of the drawings have rarely seen in public, and some have been not displayed for decades.

The exhibition focuses on not only the artist’s skill but on the moment of connection between an artist and a sitter. Many of the drawings provide illustrations of people like the artist’s friends, pupils in the studio or faces from the street who were rarely the subject of paintings during this period.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include 15 drawings  lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, including eight portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger; a group of drawings produced in the Carracci studio from Chatsworth; and the British Museum’s preparatory drawing by Albrecht Dürer for a lost portrait of Henry Parker, Lord Morley, who had been sent to Nuremberg as ambassador to King Henry VIII.

The exhibition also includes a display of the types of drawing tools and media used from metalpoint to coloured chalks and show how artists moved away from medieval pattern-books to undertake their own study of the figure, and the face, from real life.

 

This intriguing exhibition provides a series of insights into how portrait drawings have a sense of spontaneity and honesty that allows the dynamic connection between the artist and sitter to be explored more fully.

The portraits from the Renaissance and Baroque periods allows the study the faces and expressions from the famous and not so famous sitters, whilst many of the drawings were not created for public show, they offer a genuine insight into the past.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Video review available here

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, 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 : Drawing in silver and gold, Leonardo to Jasper Johns at the British Museum – 10th September to 6th December 2015

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This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see around 100 remarkable drawings created using the metalpoint technique. It features works by some of the greatest artists working from the late 14th century to the present including Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Elder, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, Otto Dix, Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman. Many of the works are drawn from the British Museum’s extensive collection of metalpoint drawings  alongside major loans from European and American museums as well as private collections, including four sheets by Leonardo da Vinci from the Royal Collection.

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At the beginning at the exhibition is a video which shows the metalpoint process in detail, metalpoint is a drawing technique which developed from medieval manuscripts where the artist uses a metal stylus, usually made of silver, on a specially prepared sheet  which leaves traces of the metal on the surface, resulting in a visible drawing. The fine point allows for precise lines so that detailed drawings can be achieved. However, the process is time-consuming and leaves little room for error.

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The technique was at its most popular during the early Renaissance, In Italy it was used to train artists in preparation of making pictures. Drawings by Filippo Lippi, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci show their mastery of the technique producing work of exquisite refinement.

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In northern Europe, early artists used metalpoint mainly for portraits , works by Petrus Christus, Rogier van der Weyden and especially Hans Holbein illustrate a high level of sophistication. Another master of the technique was Albrecht Durer whose drawings are some of the highlights of the exhibition.

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By the 16th and 17th century, the technique was in decline but was still used by Dutch artists in preparation for small portrait engravings. Works by Goltzuis and de Gheyn are on display together with drawings by Rembrandt.

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The 19th century saw a revival of  interest in Renaissance art techniques in Britain led by William Holman Hunt and Alphonse Legros, metalpoint drawings were produced that encouraged later painters to use the technique. In the 20th century, Otto Dix began to experiment with the process and more recently Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman have used metalpoint for more abstract drawings.

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This fascinating exhibition is one where the close examination of the drawings is necessary to really appreciate the incredible skill of artists to master a difficult, unforgiving technique. The rare bringing together  of  a large number of metalpoint drawings is a unique opportunity to  consider the importance of this particular technique in the history of art.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or to book  tickets, visit the British Museum website here

Exhibition runs from 10 September to 6 December 2015

Tickets

Adults £8, under 16s free

Opening times

Monday–Thursday 10.00–17.30
Friday 10.00–20.30
Saturday–Sunday 10.00–17.30

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the 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

Exhibition Review : Germany, Memories of a Nation at the British Museum – 16th Oct 2014 to 25th Jan 2015

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This exhibition  examines elements of German history from the past 600 years, from the Renaissance to reunification and beyond, the exhibition will use objects to investigate the complexities of German history.

The objects illustrate Germany’s many political changes and the many cultural and  technological achievements through the ages including  the Gutenberg Bible, Meissen porcelain, the Bauhaus movement and modern design icon the VW Beetle.

Considering the subject matter and the relative small size of the exhibition, the objects chosen to illustrate certain parts of the story of Germany have been considered very carefully. Many rare loans from Germany make up the collection, most of which have never been seen in the UK before.

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Starting at the reunification and pulling down of the Berlin Wall, the exhibition looks at some of the major German cultural achievements. From the production of the Gutenberg Bible in the 1450s, the printmaking of Albrecht Durer to the porcelain treasures of Meissen, Germany has often been at the forefront of European mass production of high quality objects.

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For over a millennia , Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire which was made up of a complex web  of cities, principalities and kingdoms. Political and trade alliances grew between some of these cities including the creation of the Hanseatic League  which was a forerunner of the Common Market.

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After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 19th century, there began a slow process of nation building in which ideas of German identity took centre stage. The lack of a dominant centre or court led to a great deal of patronage of the Arts , this led to a blossoming of German culture in which German writers, philosophers and composers were at the forefront of romantic and radical thinking.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  rose to become the most prominent writer and thinker of this period, his plays, poems and novels bought him international acclaim.

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If Germany’s cultural and commercial prestige was high in the 19th century, in the first half of the twentieth century it was their military might that would cast a shadow of Germany’s reputation in the world. The First and Second World Wars were disastrous for Germany and any flowering of cultural movements like Bauhaus was nipped in the bud.

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The exhibition has objects from the low point of German development, the door from Buchenwald  concentration camp a reminder that after the Second World War, the German economy and reputation lay in ruins. Not only that the country was divided by the Iron Curtain that was to be the fault line of the ideological Cold War.

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Nevertheless West Germany began to rebuild and within a relatively short time, once again became the economic powerhouse of Europe. It was also their position in the new Common Market that gave hope that European wars were the thing of the past.

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Even the problems of Reunification  have been gradually overcome ushering a new age of power and prosperity. It is symbolic that at the end of the exhibition is Ernst Balach’s  Der Schwebende  , a mourning figure designed as a memorial for those who died in the First World war and now the symbol of reconciliation.

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There will be a radio series ‘ Germany : Memories of a Nation on BBC Radio 4 that will accompany the exhibition.

Not in the exhibition itself but related to the subject matter is  Dürer’s paper triumph: the arch of the Emperor Maximilian in Room 3, it celebrates one of the most ambitious prints ever to be completed in the Western world. Printed from a staggering 195 woodblocks on 36 sheets of paper and measuring over 3.5 meters in height, The Triumphal Arch is one of the largest prints ever produced. Designed by the great German printmaker Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) at the pinnacle of his career, the Arch took three years to produce. It was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I (r. 1486–1519), to advertise his achievements.

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Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more or buy tickets, visit the British Museum website here

Tickets
Adults £10.00, Children free
16 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

Opening times
Open daily 10.00–17.30, Fridays until 20.30

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, 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.
To find out more visit the website here