Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Since we’re all at home and the museums are closed, I thought it would be an opportune time to share with you more pictures from our day at the National Gallery of Art. I’m really missing my local art museum – especially because right now is the Spring Blooms exhibit in the gardens and the orchid displays in the greenhouses. I was able to rescue my orchids from work before we went into shutdown, so at least I have some to look at. But I digress…. we have art to enjoy!
Now last post was Medieval art through the 1700s. We’ll pick up in the mid 1700s today with a focus on landscapes, starting with my favorite artist, J.M.W. Turner. Well, it’s hard to have a favorite artist, but he’s definitely tops. I learned that he had bequeathed all his personal paintings to the National Gallery and it was thrilling to see many of his works in one place.
He has a very distinctive style and was one of the rare artists who could expertly paint tiny vignettes to soaring, huge vistas. He was known for his prowess of sketching detailed scenes with the attention of an architect, and he also created beautiful, loose impressionistic panoramas later in life.
The museum had many of his sea scenes on display, including this action-packed scene with the riveting title “Calais Pier: An English Packet Arriving”. Doesn’t that sound like a thriller? Honestly, the names of works of art are hilarious to me.
This one, “Ulysses deriding Polyphemus – Homer’s Odyssey” is an example of when Turner starts veering more to an Impressionistic style – you can see the brushwork is much looser and a lot of the detail is missing. But it’s a lovely scene to be sure. My local art museum was slated to open an exhibit of 30 of Turner’s sketches from his travels of Europe this month. I’m looking forward to seeing them when the museums open again. I love spending time with Turner’s art.
Another great artist with many works on display at the National Gallery is Thomas Gainsborough. He was to portraiture what Turner was to landscapes. Brilliant and beautiful. Although Gainsborough also did magnificent landscapes too.
“Mr and Mrs William Hallett” is a lovely example of his portraiture. Gainsborough reported loved to paint fabrics and he certainly does a stunning job with the woman’s silk gown.
“Mr and Mrs Andrews” is a personal favorite of mine because it was featured on a mini series of works of art that I’ve watched over and over. The host believed the woman was painted subtly unfavorably because the Andrews’ marriage took personal ownership of vast acreage that had been open to the farmers and Gainsborough disapproved. He went to school with Mr. Andrews though and they were friends – the host referred to his treatment in the painting as “he’s dim but nice”. I think it’s quite a dramatic portraiture with the stormy clouds behind and idyllic country scene in the forefront.
My favorite Gainsborough is this portrait he made of his two daughters. It’s a touching scene, with the two girls chasing a butterfly – he captured an intimate and poignant moment. You can almost feel in it his wish that his daughters would find happiness that would not be fleeting.
From here we moved on to the Impressionist galleries and beyond. We actually spent so much time with the older paintings that we had to rush quite a bit to get through the rest of the galleries. We were a bit frantic to get through everything but not knowing how much was left. We finished at 5 minutes to 6pm and they virtually threw us out!
Here is a Cezanne – my favorite of the ones in the collection, entitled “Landscape with Poplars”. It’s a lovely, dreamy scene – don’t you think? I like the restrained use of color too, which make it feel more realistic, like a scene in late summer.
No collection of Impressionistic art could be complete without a ballet dancers from Degas.
I was delighted to see some water lily paintings by Monet. This particular scene is from his gardens at his home in Giverny. He built the Japanese-style bridge and this pond became the focus of 17 paintings of water lilies.
He also painted this stark scene of the flooded river Epte, a tributary of the Seine. I found this piece quite mesmerizing.
The artist Odilon Redon was one that I was introduced to through the Art Bead Scene blog, where we create jewelry inspired by works of art. We have his works several times. I was really excited to learn that the National Gallery had his work too. This one is called “Ophelia among the Flowers” and depicted a drowned Ophelia floating among flowers, as described in Hamlet – he apparently had a fascination with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His pastel work is quite incredible and his work has a dreaminess about it.
At our rushing stage where we were basically just taking photos and quickly walking through the rest of the gallery, we ran into this series of paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot called “The Four Times of Day”.
These were so lovely – I wish we had more time to gaze at them appreciatively, but we at least snapped photos to remember them. They were long narrow treescapes of early morning, midday, afternoon, and evening. And they were enchanting. It was a full day at the National Gallery and so thrilling to see great works of art from the masters. I hope it is uplifting you to see them as well. This blog post has been a bit poignant for me since all the wonderful places we saw in England are now closed. I’m so grateful we had the opportunity to travel and experience all that we did. It’s been a blessing to remember it all with you on my blog. Till next time…
Blessings to you,