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!