Before the weekend of Sandy, I had a day to kill, I knew going to the National Gallery DC, would be worthwhile. They always do things well, and their exhibitions are always worth the time. It is for me in DC what the Met is for me in NYC. I decided not to run for the modern collection, but focus on the traditional and classical.
I had known that I had seen the Copley in Boston in 2008 (below), but there was something familiar about the legend attached to the painting in DC. I checked and found they were separate paintings, but both with pretty good fidelity to one another. The Boston version, even with the blubber lips, the shark appears more real, than the first which I think harkens back to Raphael and some kind of dolphins. There is also a third vertical version in Detroit, check with Wiki.
Copley remains one of our best tactile renderers. Rendering cloth and hair as well as Ingres. His use of a light source in this one is particularly nice and echoes in the background sky as well.
Andrea del Castagano’s David with the Head of Goliath (left) Fra Angelico and Fra Fillippo Lippi’s Adoration of the Magi (right)
It is a wonderful thing that you can do this. That you can go into the National Gallery and see a Duccio, Fra Angelico, Gosseart, Holbein, and on and on. I just wanted to photograph and see some traditional art, and not run around like a chicken with my head cut off.
So much of the portraiture is fun to see, so varied and so interesting after so much modern art. I begin to like to just look at period faces, sometimes knowing you find the ancestor somewhere close to you. Look at that wonderful Murillo, that girl so fresh and alive you can bend over and smell her. The woman in the back, laughing, covering her face demurely, these are real people, not just out of the painter’s head!
I have often thought what would English painting had become without these two. This summer in Vienna at the Kuntshistoriches, I got to see some wonderful Holbein’s and rooms of Rubens. I realize van Dyke’s impact, but without Rubens, there may have been no van Dyke. Did you ever see fabric painted in such a way it becomes abstract?
Gossaert was the rage last year at the Met (no photos please), but I have seen several beautiful pieces in Vienna. Once again, look at the Northern textural influence. With the Leyster, it is wonderful to be able to see the beautiful color of the ruff, and pink sleeve. I have a horrible print done by Crystal Productions which is all yellow, nothing like what I was able to shoot.
With not that much time imbetween, the two artists overlapped in time, there is a lot of difference in time between the two portraits beyond prettification. Both use tactile values beautifully, and color too. But the egalitarian nature of the portrait of David’s genial wife, and that feel for satin and wool show a push away from romanticism and more into realism.
There is a certain eroticism to these two painters, either by content or just overall look, but the rendering of cloth, flesh, is precise as the drawing may not keep to that “classical” tradition.
A nice show called Shock of the News, got me excited enough to have my students in 4th take newspaper and re-adapt what they had done with Mondrian, only with paint left over from the third grade Rothkos. It was a nice show. Also limited pics. Look at a 20 something Twiggy, laughing right.
Never a fool, I ran over to the East Wing to get a load of the Lichtenstein show, that I had loved in Chicago. No photos, and a whole lot less work. Too bad.
Tags: Andrea del Castagano's David with the Head of Goliath, Bartolome Esteban Murillo's Two Women at a Window, Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun's Portrait of a Lady, Fra Angelico and Fra Fillippo Lippi's Adoration of the Magi, Hans Holbein the Younger's Edward the VI as a child, Jacques-Louis David's Madam David, Jan Gossaert's Portrait of a Merchant, John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark, Judith Leyster's Self-Portrait, Lichtenstein A Retrospective, Lucas Cranach the Elder's The Nymph of the Spring, Mario Merz’ To Mallarmé, Peter Paul Rubens' Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria, Quentin Massys' Ill Matched Lovers, Sandro Botticelli's Portrait of a Youth, Shock of the News, Shock of the News fashion photos