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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

 

Exhibition Review – Lorenzo Lotto: Portraits at the National Gallery from 5 November 2018 to 10 February 2019


The National Gallery presents the first-ever exhibition of portraits by the Italian Renaissance artist Lorenzo Lotto (1480–1557). The exhibition entitled Lorenzo Lotto: Portraits brings together many of Lotto’s most important portraits spanning his entire career from collections around the world.

Lotto was born in Venice but travelled extensively and worked in different parts of Italy, most notably Treviso, Bergamo, Venice, and the Italian Marches. He spent his final years as a lay member of the confraternity of the Holy House at Loreto (1549–56). The exhibition is quite unusual for a National Gallery exhibition with objects related to those that Lotto depicted being displayed.

Room one explores Lotto’s work from his time in Treviso (1503–6) and includes the Allegory (1505) from the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the  Assumption of the Virgin with Saints Anthony Abbot and Louis of Toulouse (1506) from the Chiesa Prepositurale e Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, Asolo.

Focusing on his time in Bergamo (1513–25), Room two contains the symbolic Lucina Brembati (about 1520–3) and The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, with Niccolò Bonghi (1523) both from Bergamo’s Accademia Carrara; as well as the Portrait of a Married Couple (1523–4) from the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. It was at this time that Lotto’s reputation increased with compositions full of symbolism and psychological depth.

Room three is dedicated to works produced in Venice (1525–49) such as the famous likeness of the Venetian collector Andrea Odoni from the Royal Collection (1527), the National Gallery’s own Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia (about 1530-2) which is full of expression and power and the Portrait of a Young Man with a Lizard (1528–30) from the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

The final room celebrates the late works which is noticeable for their darker elements, Lotto found himself in financial trouble and became disillusioned. The later portraits show a melancholic side that were missing from the early works.

Works include the Portrait of a Man with a Felt Hat (1541?) from the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, as well as the altarpiece of The Alms of Saint Antoninus of Florence (1540–2).

Throughout the exhibition, a number of objects similar to those in the paintings are shown including a carpet, sculpture, jewellery, clothing, and books. Lotto used these items to help to tell the sitters story and gives clues to their character.

Although admired in the Italian Renaissance period, Lotto’s reputation was never to reach the heights of his contemporaries like Titian and he has been largely forgotten. However a monograph on Lotto by art historian Bernard Berenson in 1895 generated some interest over the 20th and 21st century.

This fascinating and extensive free exhibition will introduce the work of Lorenzo Lotto to a wider audience and gives an opportunity for visitors to consider his most notable portraits in one place. His portraits of a wide range of people are generally full of personality and give considerable insight into the period and the artist.

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: Mantegna and Bellini at the National Gallery – 1st October 2018 to 27th January 2019

The National Gallery present a new exhibition that tells the story of two artists, Mantegna and Bellini and explores some of their relationship and artistic development. The exhibition entitled Mantegna and Bellini is the first ever devoted to the relationship between two of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance: Giovanni Bellini (active about 1459–1516) and Andrea Mantegna (1430/1–1506).

The exhibition includes exceptionally rare loans of paintings, drawings, and sculpture from around the world which provides  a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compare the work of these two important artists who were also connected by family.

Andrea Mantegna was a talented young painter from Padua, when in 1453  he married into one of the greatest artistic families of nearby Venice – the Bellini. Mantegna’s new brother-in-law, Giovanni Bellini, was a gifted artist who was bringing new innovations to the Venetian art.

Room One of the exhibition is called ‘Beginnings’ and provides some of the cultural context of the two cities that shaped Mantegna and Bellini – Padua and Venice.  One of the highlights in this section is ‘The Jacopo Bellini album’ on loan from the British Museum. Working in Bellini family workshop allowed the two artists to experiment and develop their own particular styles, a number of drawings illustrate the artists development.

‘Explorations’ in the following room examines the years of their closest creative exchange which was around the time of the marriage Mantegna’s marriage. In this room it is possible to compare and contrast their approaches with near identical compositions: Mantegna’s ‘The Descent into Limbo’  and Bellini’s ‘The Descent into Limbo’ (1475–80), Mantegna’s ‘The Crucifixion’ (1456–9) and Bellini’s ‘The Crucifixion’ (about 1465).

Room Three is entitled ‘Pietà’ and focuses on the origins and development of a distinctive new type of image – the Dead Christ supported by Angels. The works here will include sculptural relief, Donatello’s The Dead Christ Tended by Angels, Bellini’s The Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints Mark and Nicolas of Bari (1457-59) and Pieta (1457).

‘Landscape’ (Room Four) explores Bellini’s remarkable  landscapes, using natural light, and atmosphere to create emotion especially in religious works (such as in Bellini’s ‘St Jerome reading in a Landscape’, about 1480-5). A number of pairings in this section reveals the different approaches to landscape between the two artists and Bellini’s influence on Mantegna with his accurate view of Mantua in his ‘Death of the Virgin’, (1460-4) .

‘Devotional Paintings and Portraits’ (Room Five) provides an important  insight into a particular contribution to Italian Renaissance art, – the development of the ‘sacra conversazione’ in which the seated Virgin and Child appear in the company of saints (‘in conversation’). Here Mantegna’s ‘Madonna and Child’ (about 1465) will be seen side by side with Bellini’s ‘The Virgin and Child’ (about 1475).

The final room of ‘Mantegna and Bellini’ (called ‘Antiquity’) features some of the largest and most spectacular loans, with Mantegna’s ‘Triumphs of Caesar’ (The Bearers of Standards and ‘Siege Equipment’, ‘The Vase-Bearers’, and ‘The Elephants’, c.1484–92) , lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.

Contrasted with these are works by Bellini, including ‘The Continence of Publius Cornelius Scipio’ (about 1506) and one of his final paintings, ‘The Drunkenness of Noah’ (about 1515).

This fascinating exhibition provides plenty of insight into the artistic development of Mantegna and Bellini in the 15th century and how their creative dialogue would have a profound effect on later artists in the Italian Renaissance. Although Mantegna pursued his own artistic path and moved to Mantua and Bellini spent his entire career in Republican Venice. Both artists provided important ingredients like landscape and passion for the ancient world which would be themes that would be taken up and used by the ‘greats’ of Renaissance art like Titian, Correggio and Veronese.

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