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Exhibition Review: Young Bomberg and the Old Masters at the National Gallery from 27 November 2019 to 1 March 2020

In the latest small free exhibition at the National Gallery, a number of revolutionary early paintings by the British modernist artist David Bomberg (1890–1957) are displayed alongside National Gallery pictures that had a great influence on him.

The exhibition illustrates the parallels between Bomberg’s early works and the work of Old Masters and how the artist embraced the art of the past in order to develop his own particular style of early 20th-century Modernism.

David Bomberg moved to the East End of London in the 1890s before studying under Walter Sickert and attending the Slade School of Art. He developed his draughtsmanship and technique by spending a great deal of time copying the Old Masters in London’s major galleries including the National Gallery before developing his own distinctive style, influenced by the works of the Post-Impressionists and Italian Futurists. He was expelled from the Slade in 1913 because of his radical approach, but later taught celebrated artists like Frank Auerbach.

Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man (probably about 1480-5) is placed next to Bomberg’s Self Portrait (1913–14) and illustrate how the young British artist was confident to use his knowledge of the Old Masters to undertake large paintings that bought together themes that represented the past and present. Bomberg’s The Mud Bath (1914), Vision of Ezekiel (1912), Ju-Jitsu (c.1913), and In the Hold (c.1913–14) show the artist looking towards the future with some enthusiasm.

His war painting in the exhibition is the controversial Sappers at Work: A Canadian Tunnelling Company, Hill 60, St Eloi (c.1918-19) which suggests this vision of the modern world was fast becoming a nightmare.

The painting by Studio of El Greco’s The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (1590s) echoes the feeling of despair. For Bomberg, this despair was real with his harrowing experiences in the trenches during the First World War where he lost his brother and several close friends.

After the war, Bomberg went to work in Palestine, Spain, the Soviet Union until returning to the UK during the Second World War. Despite inspiring a generation of new British artists with his work and teaching, Bomberg struggled for recognition and financial security and died in London in 1957.

This fascinating small free exhibition offers the opportunity to consider the radical and exciting early work of David Bomberg. The British artist was on the cusp of national and international recognition until the First World War destroyed his faith in Modernism and the modern world. It is perhaps appropriate that it is within the National Gallery where the artist spent many hours drawing from the Old Masters painting that we are reminded of the dynamic and innovative talent of the early Bomberg.

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: Gauguin Portraits at the National Gallery from 7 October 2019 to 26 January 2020

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The National Gallery presents the first exhibition devoted to the portraits of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), the exhibition entitled Gauguin Portraits explores how the French artist used the portrait to examine himself and many of his friends and sitters.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The landmark exhibition features over fifty works, including major loans from museums and private collections throughout the world and features a wide range of media including sculptures in ceramics and wood,  paintings and drawings. The exhibition covers the whole of Gauguin’s artistic career from his early years as an artist through to his final visit to the South Seas.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The first room of the exhibition is dedicated to self portraits and viewers can see the artist in a number of representations from the early Self Portrait, 1885 and Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1889 where Gauguin’s isolation and lack of success fed into a sense of persecution.  Gauguin was 35 when he committed to becoming a full time artist and the portraits provide evidence of the artist constantly reinventing himself.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Room 2 marks the period he artist spent in Brittany (1884–91) Gauguin turned his back on his life as a Paris stockbroker and become a leading figure of a new artists’ colony. The room also contains portraits of some of the friends and family including Madame Mette Gauguin in Evening Dress, 1884 and Interior with Aline, 1881.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Room 3 explores Gauguin’s relationship with Vincent van Gogh and Meijer de Haan, his famous working relationship with Van Gogh ended badly in 1888.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Room 4 covers Gauguin’s first Tahitian trip (1891-3) and illustrates some of the contradictions of the artist’s life. Although he wanted to escape from ‘civilisation’, he still looked for success in the art market. He was also disappointed to find that Tahitian women were encouraged to wear modest missionary dresses like Vahine no te vi ( Woman with a Mango) 1892.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Room 5 features work completed from his return to Paris and Brittany and his second stay in Tahiti (1893–5). His Self Portrait with Idol, 1893 illustrates how often his work at this time contains distinct Tahitian imagery.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Room 6 includes a selection of portraits in which Gauguin used symbolic objects, like still lifes to remember absent friends. Van Gogh is remembered by  Sunflowers with ‘Hope, 1901.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The final room of the exhibition is devoted to Gauguin’s late portraits. They are often an indication that he had become disillusioned by his life in ‘ Paradise’ .  Local bishop, Père Paillard, is portrayed as a lecherous devil (Père Paillard, 1902,) and Barbarian Tales, 1902 sees East meeting West. His last self portrait, made shortly before the end of his life, aged 55 shows a man ravaged by illness and tormented by his lack of success.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating exhibition offers considerable insights into the life and times of Paul Gauguin the artist.  His artist career is full of contradictions, on the one hand he seeks commercial success and validation but on the other hand he wants to turn his back on ‘civilisation’ and settle in ‘paradise’.  Gauguin seemed to be an ‘outsider’ regardless of where he lived, the portraits in this exhibition seem to illustrate that he often enjoyed his status as a rebel whilst at the same time seeking reassurance from the art world.

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.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Display Review – Leonardo’s Legacy: Francesco Melzi and the Leonardeschi at the National Gallery from 23 May to 23 June 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The National Gallery marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with a display presenting the exceptional loan of the recently restored Flora (about 1520) by Francesco Melzi from the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The painting is being displayed alongside ten other key works by the so-called ‘Leonardeschi’ from the National Gallery. The term ‘Leonardeschi’ has been used to identify artists centred in Milan who were taught by or associated with Leonardo, or whose work bears his influence.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Francesco Melzi (1493–1570) was the favoured assistant and companion to Leonardo in his final years and was largely responsible for preserving Leonardo’s notebooks and drawings for posterity. The highlight of the display is a stunning painting by Melzi depicting Flora, the goddess of springtime and flowers.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For many years it was assumed that the painting of ‘Flora’ was by Leonardo himself because of the female characteristics and the fine attention to detail in the depiction of the plants. The painting is symbolic in a number of ways with Flora’s exposed breast and how she inspects a sprig of aquilegia known as a symbol of fertility. On her lap she holds a spray of jasmine, signifying purity, beside anemones representing rebirth.

Few works by Melzi are known: only two works signed by him have survived (both in Milan), although he is known for his chalk portrait of Leonardo in the Royal Collection Trust.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The display features works by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (about 1467–1516), Marco d’Oggiono (active from 1487–died 1524), Giampietrino (active about 1500–1550), Bernardino Luini (about 1480–1532), and Martino Piazza (active about 1513–1522), among others. Many these paintings show key elements of Leonardo’s work without the touch of the master, one particular Leonardo trait picked up by his follows was ‘sfumato’ in which true outlines of opaque bodies are never seen with sharp precision.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Martino Piazza’s Saint John the Baptist in the Desert (1513-22), Follower of Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s Narcissus Probably about 1500, Marco d’Oggiono’s Portrait of a Man aged 20 (1494) and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s The Virgin and Child probably about (1493-9) illustrate how some of his followers absorbed different characteristics of their master’s art.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This small free fascinating display provides evidence that Leonardo da Vinci did not always work in isolation but had a number of followers who were willing to learn from the master. Melzi in particular played an important part in Leonardo’s latter life and deserves to be more recognised for his painting talents as well as earning plenty of gratitude for saving Leonardo’s notebooks and drawings.

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.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance at the National Gallery from 12 June to 29 September 2019

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The National Gallery presents a select number of works by Bartolomé Bermejo (about 1440–about 1501), the artist was considered one of Spain’s most innovative and accomplished painters in the second half of the 15th century.

Bartolomé de Cárdenas was more commonly known as ‘Bermejo’ was born in Cordoba but was active in the Crown of Aragon, working in Tous, Valencia, Daroca, Zaragoza, and Barcelona. Very little is known about his life but it seems likely that he was a converso (a Jew converted to Christianity) which may expain his nomadic lifestyle where he often partnered with local artists to access painters’ guilds and obtain religious commissions.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This small free exhibition includes six loans that have never been seen outside of Spain, including two of Bermejo’s masterpieces: Triptych of the Virgin of Montserrat (probably 1470–75), painted for the Italian cloth merchant Francesco della Chiesa, from the Cattedrale Nostra Signora Assunta in Acqui Terme, Alessandria (Italy), and the recently restored ‘Desplà Pietà’ (1490), named after the man who commissioned the work – Lluís Desplà, archdeacon of Barcelona Cathedral, where the painting has been since the 15th century.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In addition, four panels depicting scenes from Christ the Redeemer (Descent of Christ into Limbo and Resurrection from Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona; Christ entering Paradise and Ascension from the Fundació Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic, Barcelona, all about 1470–5) are displayed.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

At the centre of the exhibition is the National Gallery’s own painting by Bermejo, Saint Michael Triumphant over the Devil with the Donor Antoni Joan (1468) which is considered one of the most important early Spanish painting in Britain, it is displayed here for the first time following its recent conservation. Painted in 1468, the Saint Michael Triumphant is thought to have once formed part of an altarpiece dedicated to Saint Michael in the church of the same name in Tous, near Valencia. It is the first of some twenty known works by Bermejo, produced over a career spanning just over thirty years.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The first surviving document relating to the artist, in the form of a receipt for partial payment for the Saint Michael Triumphant, is displayed alongside the painting for the very first time in this exhibition.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The painting shows an elegant archangel Michael covered in a embroidered, jewel-encrusted cape defeating the devil who depicted in the form of a grotesque being. Antoni Joan, lord of Tous and the donor who commissioned the work, kneels at the archangel’s feet and looks up from his prayer book to witness Saint Michael’s victory over the devil.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The works on display demonstrate Bermejo’s considerable technical talent that was considered superior to his Spanish contemporaries. Such was his expertise, it was thought that the artist may have been trained in the Netherlands or had closely studied Dutch paintings of the period.

This fascinating 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. The work of Bartolomé Bermejo is not widely known but the exhibition provides some insights into early Spanish painting and highlights the work of an artist who life and work still remains a mystery.

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.
To find out more visit the website here

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.
To find out more visit the website here

 

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.
To find out more visit the website here

Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen at the National Gallery – 28th November 2018 to 3rd February 2019


One of the world’s best known animal paintings, Edwin Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen, will be displayed at the National Gallery this autumn for the first time since 1851. The large painting of a stag, which is also on show for the first time in London since 1983, has been loaned by the National Galleries of Scotland, who acquired the work in 2017 following a public fundraising appeal. The picture will be the centrepiece of a free exhibition that will reveal the close connections between Landseer (1802-73) and the National Gallery.

While The Monarch of the Glen is usually associated with Scotland, it is less well-known that it was originally commissioned for the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Sir Charles Eastlake, the Gallery’s second Keeper and later first Director, was closely involved in this project. The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851, which was then housed in the National Gallery building. Landseer designed the lions for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and the exhibition will also include paintings and drawings connected with these famous sculptures. 

As well as highlighting the artist’s close relationship to Queen Victoria, whom he tutored in etching and accompanied to the Scottish Highlands, Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen will include other paintings and drawings by Landseer of Highland scenes showing how he developed his distinctive approach to the representation of the stag as hero.  

A representation of the painting made in 1966 by former National Gallery Associate Artist Sir Peter Blake will provide a living artist’s response highlighting The Monarch of the Glen’s enduring appeal.  

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.
To find out more visit the website here