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Exhibition Review – Goya: The Portraits at the National Gallery from 7th October 2015 to 10th January 2016

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Goya : The Portraits explores the artist’s development in relation to portraits, from his first commissions to more intimate later works, the exhibition presents 70 of the artist’s most outstanding works from public and private collections around the world, including paintings, drawings, and miniatures never-before-seen in London.

Although Francisco de Goya was 37 when he secured his first important portrait commission, he quickly built a reputation amongst Spanish society especially the royal family, aristocrats, intellectuals, politicians and military figures.

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The first room in the exhibition entitled ‘The first portraits’ includes one his early masterpieces ‘The Family of the Infante Don Luis de Borbón’. Painted in 1784 for the young brother of King Charles III of Spain, the Infante Don Luis de Borbón, Goya depict Don Luis’s family in an informal setting engaged in daily routine.

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In complete contrast is another family group ‘The Family of the Dukes of Osuna and their Children’ who were one of the most distinguished aristocratic families in Spain. The formality of the group perhaps reflects their high status, however Goya does incorporate some elements of the domestic idyll by painting the dogs and children’s toys.

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In the room entitled The Spanish Enlightenment we have the portraits of ‘Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos’ and ‘Francisco de Saavedra’, two leading members of the  Spanish Enlightenment. Goya painted the paintings to be hung together to allow the viewer to contrast and compare the two politicians body language. The paintings are now split between the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the Courtauld Institute in London, therefore this exhibition is a rare opportunity to the see the paintings as Goya intended.

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One of the responsibilities of being the official court painter was to paint the aristocratic beauties of the day and Goya’s ‘The Duchess of Alba’ is considered one of his finest portraits. Some of the other striking portraits in this room include ‘The Countess of Fernan Nunez’ and ‘The Count of Fernan Nunez’.

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For all the aristocratic splendour, the start of the 19th century saw Spain in turmoil with the Napoleonic Wars and the Liberals and despots features some of the main protagonists. The rather grand ‘Ferdinand VII in Court Dress’ is almost a caricature of a King whose power was only regained through Wellington’s expulsion of the French.

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There is a self-portrait of the young and ambitious Goya at the beginning of the exhibition, in complete contrast at the end is the extraordinary ‘Self-Portrait with Doctor Arrieta’. Goya became deaf as the result of serious illness in his mid-40s, he suffered another serious illness in 1819, Goya inscribed the portrait explaining what had happened: ‘Goya, in gratitude to his friend Arrieta: for the skill and care with which he saved his life in his acute and dangerous illness, suffered at the end of the year 1819, at the age of 73. He painted it in 1820’.

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This exhibition examines Goya’s remarkable skill at capturing the psychology of his sitters, many of the portraits are not the idealised version of the sitter but shows a realism that is often unflattering. It illustrates the strength of Goya’s reputation to be able to get away with this unconventional approach painting the Spanish Aristocracy and other powerful figures of his day. The exhibition offers the rare opportunity to discover some of Goya’s most outstanding portraits and perhaps understand how even in formal portraits he was able to gain considerable psychological insights.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or to book tickets, visit the National Gallery website here

Goya: The Portraits at the National Gallery

7 October 2015 – 10 January 2016

Daily
10am – 6pm

Fridays
10am – 9pm

Prices
Adult – £18
Senior (60+) – £16
Jobseeker/Student/National Art Pass (with proof of status) – £9
Members – FREE

The above ticket prices include a voluntary donation to the National Gallery. Prices excluding voluntary donation are: Adult £16 Senior (60) £14 Jobseeker/Student/National Art Pass £8, Under 12s – FREE with a paying ticket holder.

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

The Top 30 London Attractions in 2014

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London’s British Museum is  the most popular visitor attraction in the UK, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).  The National Gallery remains the second, the Southbank Centre comes in third.

The list of the top 10 most visited sites contains only one attraction outside London, with the new Library of Birmingham at number 10. Edinburgh Castle and Chester Zoo are the only other non-London attractions in the top 20.

Museums and Galleries across the UK saw an increase of more than 6% on visitor numbers on the previous year, however there is some concern that domestic visitors to some museums and galleries is actually falling.

Many of the top attractions are free, but tend to hold paid exhibitions  to raise revenue. In recent years there has been an enormous growth in attractions developing education programmes to attract and keep the younger generations.

Although London’s Imperial War Museum which saw the most significant increase in visitor numbers across the year, that was mostly due to the fact that large parts of the museum were closed in 2013 to prepare for the museum’s new World War One galleries, which opened in July 2014.

London’s Top 30 according to Association of Leading Visitor Attractions figures:
1 British Museum 6,695,213
2 The National Gallery 6,416,724
3 Southbank Centre 6,255,799
4 Tate Modern 5,785,427
5 Natural History Museum 5,388,295
6 Science Museum 3,356,072
7 V&A South Kensington 3,180,450
8 Tower of London 3,075,950
9 Somerset House 2,463,201
10 National Portrait Gallery 2,062,502
11 St Paul’s Cathedral 1,782,741
12 Old Royal Naval College 1,749,708
13 British Library 1,627,599
14 National Maritime Museum 1,516,258
15 Kew 1,368,565
16 Tate Britain 1,357,878
17 ZSL London Zoo 1,318,621
18 Houses of Parliament 1,253,326
19 Westminster Abbey 1,190,737
20 Museum of London 1,167,070
21 Imperial War Museum London 914,774
22 Royal Academy of Arts 824,793
23 Royal Observatory Greenwich 785,963
24 Tower Bridge Exhibition 649,361
25 Churchill War Rooms 472,746
26 V&A Museum of Childhood 471,000
27 Kensington Palace 401,353
28 Shakespeare’s Globe 357,886
29 HMS Belfast 346,331
30 Cutty Sark 265,202

Source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

It is worth remembering that although ALVA’s 57 members are the UK’s most popular  attractions, there are a number of Attractions that are not members and therefore not included.

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 , 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

A Short Guide to the National Gallery

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In April 1824 the House of Commons agreed to pay £57,000 for the picture collection of the banker John Julius Angerstein. His 38 pictures were intended to form the core of a new national collection which would be housed in a new building.
In 1831, Parliament agreed to construct the building for the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square which finally opened in 1838. The National Gallery had free admission and wished to appeal all sections of society. However its success led to calls to expand the building and subsequent wings were added in 1876, 1907, 1975 and 1991.

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Although the collections of John Julius Angerstein and Sir George Beaumont provided the bulk of the National Gallery, in 1855 the new director Sir Charles Eastlake travelled throughout Europe to purchase pictures for the collection. Within 10 years  the Gallery’s collection of Italian painting was considered  one of the best in the world.

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When the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner bequeathed over 1000 paintings, drawings and watercolours to the collection in 1856, it was  decided to exhibit British works in a separate premises. Eventually a site was found at Millbank and the Gallery opened in 1897. The new gallery was officially known the National Gallery of British Art, changing its name to the National Gallery, Millbank in 1917. The wealthy industrialist, Henry Tate, offered his collection to the nation and funded the gallery which led to the gallery later becoming known as the Tate Gallery. Therefore ironically the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square only possessed a small selection of British pictures as the majority were transferred to the Tate which up to 1955 was under the administration of the National Gallery.

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The National Gallery Collection contains over 2,300 works, including many famous works, such as van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

All major traditions of Western European painting are represented from the artists of late medieval and Renaissance Italy to the French Impressionists.
13th- to 15th-century paintings
Duccio, Uccello, van Eyck, Lippi, Mantegna, Botticelli, Dürer, Memling, Bellini
16th-century paintings
Leonardo, Cranach, Michelangelo, Raphael, Holbein, Bruegel, Bronzino, Titian, Veronese
17th-century paintings
Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin, Van Dyck, Velázquez, Claude, Rembrandt, Cuyp, Vermeer
18th- to early 20th-century paintings
Canaletto, Goya, Turner, Constable, Ingres, Degas, Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh

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Highlights

A Young Woman standing at a Virginal -Johannes Vermeer about 1670-2

Bacchus and Ariadne – Titian  1520-3

Bathers at Asnières – Georges Seurat  1884

Doge Leonardo Loredan – Giovanni Bellini  1501-2

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I – Anthony van Dyck  about 1637-8

Mr and Mrs Andrews – Thomas Gainsborough about 1750

Samson and Delilah – Peter Paul Rubens about 1609-10

Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula – Claude 1641

Self Portrait at the Age of 34 – Rembrandt 1640

Sunflowers – Vincent van Gogh 1888

The Ambassadors – Hans Holbein the Younger 1533

The Arnolfini Portrait – Jan van Eyck 1434

The Battle of San Romano – Paolo Uccello probably about 1438-40

The Entombment – Michelangelo about 1500-1

The Fighting Temeraire –Joseph Mallord William Turner 1839

The Hay Wain – John Constable 1821

The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’) – Raphael about 1506-7

The Toilet of Venus (‘The Rokeby Venus’) – Diego Velázquez 1647-51

The Virgin of the Rocks from Panels from the S. Francesco Altarpiece, Milan

Leonardo da Vinci about 1491/2-9 and 1506-8

The Wilton Diptych – English or French (?)about 1395-9

Venus and Mars – Sandro Botticelli about 1485

Admission Free
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 9pm
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

 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 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

 

 

Exhibition Review : Rembrandt – The Late Works at the National Gallery , 15 Oct 2014 to 18 Jan 2015

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The National Gallery ‘s widely anticipated exhibition , Rembrandt: The Late Works offers one of the  first ever in-depth exploration of Rembrandt’s final years of painting.

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Without doubt, Rembrandt was the greatest master of the Dutch Golden Age and with his reputation made could have slowed down in the closing years of his life. However as the exhibition shows he became more creative and created works that are now renown for their soulful, honest and moving nature.

Never afraid to show his own imperfections, the many self portraits show an often  worn and weary expression. It is this insight into human emotions that draw you into the lives of the sitters. The ‘Jewish Bride’ shows the affection and tenderness of a couple at the beginning of their life together.

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The Jewish Bride

 The exhibition divides the  paintings, drawings and prints thematically in order to examine the ideas that preoccupied him during these final years: these include self-scrutiny, experimental technique, the use of light, the observation of everyday life, inspiration from other artists and responses to artistic convention, as well as expressions of intimacy, contemplation, conflict and reconciliation.

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Key works include: The ‘Jewish Bride’ (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), An Old Woman Reading (The Buccleuch Collection, Scotland), A Man in Armour (Glasgow Museums: Art Gallery, Kelvingrove), A Young Woman Sleeping (British Museum, London), Juno (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles), Portrait of a Blond Man (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), The Suicide of Lucretia (The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota), Bathseba with King David’s Letter (Musée du Louvre, Paris), Titus at his Desk (Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam), A Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto), Lucretia (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) and the National Gallery’s own A Woman Bathing in a Stream and Portrait of Frederik Rihel on Horseback.

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However all the paintings, drawings and prints show how Rembrandt exceptional skills were evident even in the smallest drawings.

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The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis

A late addition to the exhibition is The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis  with its dazzling use of light that illuminates the scene. For all the wonder of the religious and classical scenes, it is the portraits and drawings of himself, his family and  local people which illustrate  Rembrandt’s ability to get inside the sitter’s mind and display the various emotions.

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Self Portrait with Two Circles

This is one of London’s exhibitions of the year and it does not disappoint, when you see the approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints in one place it  shows  how remarkable a painter Rembrandt was  and his later work often exceeds his earlier paintings.

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The Syndics

Due to the expected interest in the exhibition, it may be advisable to book as soon as possible.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

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

15 Oct 2014 – 18 Jan 2015

Prices
Adult -£18
Senior (60+) -£16
Job Seeker/Student/National Art Pass (with proof of status) – £9

The above ticket prices include a voluntary donation to the National Gallery. Prices excluding voluntary donation are: Adult £16 Senior (60) £14 Job Seeker/Student/National Art Pass £8, Under 12’s – Free with a paying ticket holder

Opening hours

Daily 10am–6pm (last admission – 5.15pm)
Fridays 10 – 9pm (last admission 8.15pm)

 

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

Exhibition: Building the Picture – Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting at the National Gallery,30 April – 21 September 2014

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NG1033 Sandro Botticelli The Adoration of the Kings, about 1470-5

Tempera on poplar ,130.8 x 130.8 cm,Bought, 1878

© The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery presents the first exhibition in Britain to explore the role of architecture within painting, with the focus on Italian Renaissance painting of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting aims to increase visitors’ appreciation and understanding of some of the most beautiful and architectural paintings by Italian masters such as Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli, Veneziano, Mazzolini and their contemporaries.
Using the National Gallery’s  famous collection of  Italian Renaissance paintings, this exhibition will also  include the Venetian master Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Judgement of Solomon (Kingston Lacy, The Bankes Collection, National Trust), on display in London for the first time in 30 years, and ‘The Ruskin Madonna’ by Andrea del Verrocchio (National Gallery of Scotland).

Building the Picture explores the roles played by architecture in painting and how it affects the viewing process. Architecture within paintings has often been treated as a passive background or as subordinate to the figures. This exhibition shows how, on the contrary, architecture underpinned many paintings, and was used to design the whole picture from the very start. This was the case in Sandro Botticelli’s Adoration of the Kings , where the ruins in the picture were planned first and still dominate the composition. Renaissance paintings are full of arches, doorways and thresholds.

Visiting London Guide Review

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NG3919 Sandro Botticelli Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius, about 1500

Tempera on wood, 64.8 x 139.7 cm, Mond bequest, 1924

© The National Gallery, London

One of the aims of the Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting is to increase visitors’ appreciation and understanding of some of the most beautiful and architectural paintings by Italian masters such as Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli and their contemporaries.

As you walk around the Exhibition with this is mind, it is quite enlightening to consider the background as well as foreground which usually takes your attention.

It is quite remarkable how many of the Renaissance painting use arches, doorways and thresholds to frame the action in the painting.

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It is interesting how the subjects in the paintings are not over powered by the architecture but often seem to be larger than life.

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Another interesting aspect is how the buildings give the picture a three dimensional quality and draws the viewer into the picture.

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One of the benefits of looking at paintings from roughly the same era but different painters is that common themes are followed and similar painting techniques but each painter will try to be slightly different in the way present the picture.

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The National Gallery should be applauded for putting on a exhibition which challenges the viewer to consider how a painting can be made up of different aspects which come together to make the whole more successful.

It also gives some insight into the mind of the Renaissance painter whose vision of beauty was not confined to human beings and nature but also to the bricks and mortar that could be used to create wonderful buildings sometimes in the imagination but also in reality.

The relatively small  size of this exhibition gives the visitor plenty of time to look at the painting individually and in relation to each other.  The exhibition is free so if you are visiting the National Gallery is one not to miss. It also forms part of the Renaissance Spring  as season of exhibitions that include the Veronese  and Strange Beauty Exhibitions.

If you are intrigued by the subject matter of the Exhibition, the National Gallery has commissioned five short films to coincide with this exhibition demonstrate how contemporary practitioners and thinkers are again blurring the boundaries between media and forms of practice. The films provide modern perspectives on real and imagined architecture from award-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, film-maker Martha Fiennes, art historian T. J. Clark, film historian John David Rhodes and computer game cinematic director Peter Gornstein.

Also the Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting is an online exhibition catalogue produced by the National Gallery to accompany the exhibition. This digital catalogue will be accessible online here.

Dates and opening hours

Open to public: 30 April – 21 September 2014

Sunley Room

Admission free

Daily 10am–6pm (last admission 5pm)

Fridays 10am–9pm (last admission 8.15pm)

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended