Thursday, June 12, 2008

National Gallery

We visited the National Gallery yesterday afternoon, which contains paintings roughly up to the period of Impressionism. It was a fairly brief visit as we were a little pressed for time and have been to the museum on many previous occasions. To that end, we focused on Italian art of the 1500-1700s. I was especially interested in this topic as a number of works in the collection resulted from the efforts of a single scholar/collector. Sir Denis took what had been a period that lacked critcal or popular interest and revitalized it. In the process, he built a substantial collection (worth millions of pounds today) for about the cost of a luxury car. Amazing.

We also spent time viewing some favorite works in the collection: Canaletto's famous views of Venice (paintings which are ironically far more common in England than in Italy today--due to their role as momentos of one's "Grand Tour"), Hogarth's "Marriage a la mode" series (painting as social commentary), and Delaroche's "The Execution of Lady Jane Gray" (one of Libby's favorites), which we didn't see for a while as it had been on loan in the States to a museum in Wisconsin, if I recall correctly. As usual, the majority of visitors seemed packed into the rooms containing later works. Claude and Vincent were--as always--especially popular. It reminds me of the people who rush by masterpieces in the Louvre in Paris just to gawk at the Mona Lisa and then promptly leave. Come on people: don't be such artistic sheep!

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