Monday, 8 July 2013



I just made it to see this exhibition, a few days before it closed. It was well worth it!

There were some fantastic views of NY City, in sombre blacks and greys.

He used to work in New York and took his sketchbook out, particularly on the areas were construction was taking place.
A group of paintings were focussed on the the new Penn Station.
The huge hole in the ground, surrounded by cliffs of earth, made me look hard.
I have used Penn Station, and it does not seem possible that relatively recently it was just a mammoth construction side, with not a building in sight.

Also Bellows painted some fine landscapes, and there were drawings of the local scallywags, the poor boys who lived near his studio, playing in the city and swimming in the river, I suppose it was the Hudson.

Unfortunately you cannot take photos in the Royal Academy, so I have no images.
Will see if there is a link, though
Royal Academy information about this closed exhibition




The largest of the exhibition spaces on the top floor has several prime Gauguins in oils in this exhibition, most of them very familiar;  still it is worth going to have a look.  Two are on loan, and I enjoyed looking at the works very much.  However, George Bellows is more my cup of tea, all that urban grime!  

The text as usual was informative and interesting.  In addition there are a numer of wood-cuts prints.

Courtauld, Collecting Gauguins

Friday, 5 April 2013



We decided on an all-day visit to Versailles.  We bought our four tickets for use on the RER train at the Metro station Etienne Marcell, and from there we changed from the Metro at St. Michel to the RER Versailles train.  We knew that we needed four tickets for the two of us, but we did not realize that these tickets were all the same, with no markings to distinguish which ones has been used on the outward journey, and which were still un-used, oh dear .....

On our return trip, at the station at Versailles, we found that three of the tickets were not usable.  By mistake three had been put into the ticket slots at Etienne Marcell or at St Michel when we changed trains.  By then it was about 6 pm and there was a huge queue, as it was the rush-hour, and we thought the only solution was to buy one more ticket for the return journey.

Luckily a helpful man opened the Customer Service window near where I was standing, just in time. I explained the problem and he kindly sorted it out, pointing out that we had used three of the tickets but only two should have been cancelled,  so  BE WARNED!!!  Watch which tickets you use.


We bought our tickets to the Chateau and the grounds at the Tourist Office, which you pass on the way to the Chateau.  It was much easier to do this, rather than join yet another queue at the Chateau, although it cost a couple of Euros more.  I think it was about £37 for two.

We went into the grounds first and I took these photos, but found to my horror that the battery on the camera had died on me, so I could not take any more photos.  The gardens and parks are really beautiful, despite the cold spring which meant that no trees were showing any green.



We tried out the bus service in Paris, and used No. 29 from the Marais to get to Opera, near Gare St-Lazare.


Crowds milling around on the steps and elsewhere, but this popular destination was closed for two days.  I took this photo of a jolly brass band playing on the steps.

On the steps of Paris Opera

It was a Saturday, 23 March and our first designation was LES PRINTEMPS, grand magazin (bit like Selfridges in London).

Here is a link to it

I wanted to find a particular make of French lipstick, which they did not stock, unfortunately. 
So we made our way to the roof where there is a cafe, and outdoor seating area with magnificent views. The cafe staff were not very interested in serving, there was a sort of help-yourself coffee machine, but good coffee.

The coffee taken, I then tried out the ladies loo on the ground floor which cost me 1.5€ - shock, horror! (that's just under £1.50)

Next destination, MUSEE JACQUEMART-ANDRE, so another bus, the stop for which was very difficult to find.  The official bus map for Paris does not show any clear indication of streets, just coloured lines and little boxes with bus numbers in, but finally we got on the No. 22 which passes the Musee  Jacquemart-Andre, going along Boulevard Haussmann.

Here is a link to the museum's website

and if you want the French version:


This museum  is a furnished grand mansion on the Boulevard Haussmann, Paris, 75008, in one of the poshest parts of Paris.  It dates from the end of the 19th century and was built by Edouard Andre, a very rich banker and his wife Nelie Jacquemart, a painter.  They were lovers of fine things and had the money to indulge their passion.

The Boudin exhibition had started the day before, but nevertheless we were surprised to see the length of the queue to get in,  It was not moving at all.  It seemed like every rich, trendy, chic Parisienne or Parisien was in that queue, along with a sprinkling of Americans and Japanese.  Finally the queue moved and slowly, very slowly, the girl on the ticket desk printed off our tickets.

We walked round the permanent collection first, admiring the large collection of Italian religious paintings, very fine, such as this Botticelli Virgin and Child

and there were French works, including some by Fragonard and Boucher.  The English and Flemish works were not so impressive.  

The rooms, and the staircase, are themselves were works of art, in their colours and textures, with impressive antiques and gilt panelling, with some high painted ceilings and costly drapes at the windows.  All well cared-for.

Then it was time to go to see the Boudins, a painter I particularly admire. There was a large collection of his work and it was well worth the visit.  The collection was borrowed from prestigious world galleries, and we commented that it was surprising that the condition of the watercolours, oils and pastels was excellent.  Presumably Boudin knew how to work with good quality canvas, paper and mediums.

The colours too are very beautiful, and the luminosity of the sky absolutely striking.  He visited a great many coastal areas, such as Honfleur, where he was born, and Trouville, and at the end of his life worked in the south of France.
Here is a link with some good information about Eugen Boudin, from the National Gallery.


I thought it a shame that the people jostling around the paintings and drawings were, on the whole, paying a great deal of attention to the audio guide fixed to their ears.  

There was no necessity for this, the works spoke for themselves, and they were produced in an age when those who appreciate art could form their own opinions on its excellence or otherwise, without somebody else telling them the when, whys and wherefores.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013



We visited the artist Anna Lovely last week, in her studio in South East London.

Anna by her easel

Here she is, sitting by some of her work, with a lovely lampshade which she painted, just in front.

Anna Lovely 

Anne does a lot of her work in a studio space at her home, and the whole area is full of visually stunning pieces of art work, plus paintings by her father, artist Paddy Lovely.

Poster - Paddy Lovely

There is a strong link to Camberwell Art School, too.  Anna studied at Camberwell and the Royal Academy Schools, and her father Paddy, mother Belle, and daughter, Bonnie, have all studied at Camberwell.

The work is predominantly in watercolour or acrylic, and Anna uses a light, luminous palette of colours.  The work is brilliant and glows on the walls.

The Old Palette

Anna and her family are very hospitable and a warm welcome is always given!

Recent exhibitions include one in at the Jeannie Avent Gallery, East Dulwich in Northcott Road.

I recommend that you make a point of seeing Anna's work when she next exhibits, and snap up one of her lovely paintings while they are still affordable!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013



Murillo and Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship.

We have often admired Murillo's paintings in the past, a few can be seen at Dulwich Picture Gallery, in the National Gallery and in the Prado, Madrid. Now we have the opportunity to look at a large collection of them, on view at Dulwich Picture Gallery, in South London.

We attended a lecture last week given by the curator of this new exhibition, Dr Xavier Bray.   Then we walked round the exhibition and admired the lovely oil paintings, some borrowed from the Louvre, the National Gallery and other collections, both in the UK , Europe and the USA.

The canon of Seville Cathedral, Justino de Neve, was a close friend and sponsor of Murillo and included in his collection of 160 picture was 18 Murillos including a portrait which is in this exhibition. Most of the painting though, are of a religious nature.

When de Neve met Murillo he was as at the height of his career, producing art works for churches, convents and other religious establishment, but he had previously that worked for an individual.  He had trained in Seville and had set up an Academy of Drawing. It is possible that he met Velazquez in Madrid but he did not travel anywhere else and remained in Seville all his life.  

He was a perfect Catholic propaganda painter, said Dr Gray, He painted lunettes for the Church of Santa Maria la Blanca in Seville, which was opened in 1665. However, many paintings did not remain in situ, a lot were stolen by the French during the Napoleonic War, particularly by Marechal Soult and his followers. Soult stole the Immaculate Conception, which was then later swapped by Franco with the regime of Petain, for an El Greco. This lovely painting now hangs in the Prado but you can see it at the moment in Dulwich.

There was a terrible plague in 1649 when half the population of Seville died, which might be the reason that after that date Murillo's work showed peaceful images of the Infant Christ as well as the Lamb of God, possibly because images of hope and love were needed, rather than paintings of  scenes of suffering such as the Cruxificion. In fact all the paintings we saw were tranquil and inspired feelings of serenity.

The Hospital of the Venerables was built as a home for poor priests, suffering as a result of the crisis caused by the plague.  This building is still there in Seville. Murillo painted several lovely works for this institution. Justino de Neve had planned to move there in his old age but he died before that was possible

de Neve had a private collection of works including The Flower Girl and one titled Summer, of a young man, both on loan from the National Gallery.

There are two small works painted on obsidian, a dense black material from Mexico, in which Murillo used the black background as an integral part of his work.

The two paintings of beggar boys, or street urchins, which is owned by Dulwich, have been well cleaned and we were shown them, before and after.

Dr Gray pointed out the loose, luminous style of later Murillos, called 'estilo vaporoso', a free and expressive manipulation of the medium of oil paint.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013



The talk last Wednesday at Richmond on Thames was given by Colin Wiggins,
who I find to be an excellent lecturer, as well he might be, as he is Head of Special Projects at the National Gallery.

The talk was Prints and Printmaking, and Colin first of all stated his great interest in the print medium, stating that making pictures is his main interest, and he is most passionate about prints.

He started off talking about woodcuts, explaining that these early works, from Germany and other parts of Europe, were designed to reach a mass audience, they were the first impressions that could be produced en masse.  Particularly interesting was the images from Ars Moriendi, The Art of Dying, as people were very involved with the necessity of having a 'good death'.  Devils lurked under the bed of the dying….

Durer was the great printmaker, until Rembrandt came along. Durer worked with woodblocks but at first he was not allowed to cut his own block. He made the drawing, and then a block maker transferred his drawn line onto the wood, this explains why some of the early Durer images are crude and inaccurate. Colin showed examples of the original drawing by Durer and compared it to the final image from a woodblock. Durer then demanded that the cutters did a better job and the final images are those amazing prints that are so well-known. Follow the link above to see examples of these.

In 1498 there were images of 'The End of the World', because most people thought that the world would end in 1500 and the Apocalypse series was made.  These images were particularly disturbing and macabre.

Engraving, into a metal plate, was the new art form.  At that time copper plate was used, and the copper was made into a plate by a smith who hammered the copper flat. The copper plate was very amenable to the aim of an artists who wanted to create very black blacks.

The Burin, a pointed tool, cuts into the copper plate, which is then inked up.  Durer created the famous image of St Eustace in this way. The copper plate was covered in a layer of oily ink and then run through a printing press.

Another master of the technique is known as the Master LCZ, of whose work only a very few images remain, and nobody knows his name or place of work, but probably he worked in Germany.

Etching followed, and the usual method was to cut into a layer of 'hard ground' with a sharp tool, then the plate is etched in a bath of acid.

Etching is nowadays usually made on a zinc plate, as these days copper is very expensive, and in any way, copper plate is now run off in a press rather than beaten flat into shape.  This means that the blacks of a traditional etching print are not so deep and impressive, as the lined in the zinc will deteriorate if left in the acid too long.

Rembrandt is considered to be the greatest printmaker and Colin finds his etchings of greater fascination and magnificence than his paintings.

Unfortunately Colin did not have time to talk about the etchings of that other great master, Goya.

Rembrandt was one of the few Northern artists who never went to Italy, he worked on images of himself a great deal, and had a repertoire of expressions that he used.  Of course it is well known that he used his wife Saskia as a model too.  Colin showed us some magnificent prints by Rembrandt, particularly of a sleeping pig, the Pancake Seller, and various versions of a spectacular Crucifixion.

The lecture ended all too soon, when Colin talked briefly about the work of Gainsborough, who used acquaint, as did Goya, and the mezzotints of Constable. These were produced by Lucas and are in the British Museum Print Room, with Constable's notes.  

Lucien Freud also produced etchings, and apparently he wore his gasses to do them, which is why they are better than his later paintings - the paintings were done without the glasses!