Tapadh Leibh, Dùn Èideann: Royal Gallery, 1

Andrea del Sarto and workshop The Virgin and Child with Saint John2Andrea del Sarto and workshop’s The Virgin and Child with Saint John (detail)

Wow, this is the first of two parts. Sometimes it makes perfect sense, you go some place expecting nothing. Or not expecting something, and you get, well–a real big unexpected something. I was bowled over by the collection at the Royal Gallery in Edinburgh.

Like the del Sarto (above, below) the light in the upper galleries show the blemishes of age in their European collection. This kind of adds an authenticity to the work, untypical of American collections, which try to cover up with fancy lighting or placement, the shortcoming of centuries vieiwing. The rooms here are that crimson, which was the style before we went pure modern white. The only argument I have with many European museums is the nuisance of covering over painting with glass, which makes them hard to see, and worse to shoot.

Andrea del Sarto and workshop The Virgin and Child with Saint John

But del Sarto is in great company, with both other Italians and an early Velasquez and a Hals couple.

Sandro Botticelli The Virgin adoring the sleeping Christ Child temperaSandro Botticelli The Virgin adoring the sleeping Christ Child, a masterpiece in tempera.

Giovanni Battista Cima  the virigin and child with saints andrew and peterGiovanni Battista Cima The Virgin and Child with Saints  Andrew and Peter, another unfinished work.

Jacobo Bassano The Adoration of the Kings 1542Jacobo Bassano The Adoration of the Kings

Bassano, like del Sarto, is a recognized master. Both within the company of their era, are less written about. Bassano, in this work, has that breadth of grandness, color and pageantry, that makes 16th century Venetian art so much fun. The beautiful staging predates the grandeur of opera, or a Visconti late 50s early/60s spectacular. The lovely Madonna, right out of a Bellini, looks almost crowded out by a bunch of male peacocks, including a minor character in tight pants curiously upstaging everyone, including another horses’ ass. This is the kind of painting that makes things like The Borgias possible. Bassano, aside from the obvious debt to Tintoretto, affected a still young El Greco during his passage through Venetian art.

Lorenzo Lotta The Virgin and Child with St Peter Jerome Francis and an undentified Femele saints 1505Lorenzo Lotto’s The Virgin and Child with St Peter Jerome Francis and an unidentified Femele saint

By the way check out the horizon in the del Sarto, then the Bassano, finally Lotto. Del Sarto follows the tradition of both Perugino and da Vinci of that soft atmospheric fading away to create space. Bassano, the more Durer/Belliniesque blueness which pulls things back into the blueness of the sunny skies. Note the modernness of Lotto, a straight line of cloth and almost a landscape diagonally glued to the figures in the foreground. This all on a very strong horizontal orientation, but figures counterpointed in extremely vertical positions. There is this sort of hipness of Lotto which should make him the El Greco of this millennium.

El Greco The Saviour of the World 1600El Greco The Saviour of the World 

Paolo Veronese Venus Cupid and MarsPaolo Veronese’ Venus, Cupid and Mars

Jacobo Tintoretto Christ Carried to the Tomb and Titian Venus Rising from the SeaJacobo Tintoretto’s Christ Carried to the Tomb (left) and right)

Bassano remains in good company with fellow Venetians Lotta, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto and Titian. Veronese, master of the flesh tone, produces a  succulent Venus, s a far cry from the girlish Botticelli. Having recently seen Lotto in Vienna, here in a rare religious painting.

Corregio An Allegory of Virtue and Sir Peter Paul Rubens A Study of a Head of StCorreggio An Allegory of Virtue (left) and Sir Peter Paul Rubens A Study of a Head of St.Ambrose (right)

It was not what I anticipated about Corregio. The ground is light and done specifically in sections, very carefully drawn. Not blocked in, but almost laid out like fresco.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens The Feast of Herod compositeSir Peter Paul Rubens’ The Feast of Herod (left, and detail, right).

There are two artists I love to see with smaller easel paintings, one is Delacroix, the other Rubens. The Vienna Academy and also in Budapest, there were some nice of both. Here there are a few. You just wonder how prolific Rubens was! Between the great drawings and some of these small painting, which probably became large versions, you get bowled over.

I am fascinated how Rubens painted eyes, he almost seemed indebted to Leonardo and those artists that came out of Verrocchio’s workshop. Check out Rubens, and his protégé, van Dyke (below) , after Anthony started to break into his own stride.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens The Reconcilliation of Jacob and EsauSir Peter Paul Rubens The Reconcilliation of Jacob and Esau

Where would we be without our Flemish masters. Especially Rubens and van Dyke?

Sir Anthony van Dyke The Lomellini Family

Sir Anthony van Dyke The Lomellini Family2Sir Anthony van Dyke The Lomellini Family (higher above and detail, directly above)

The little boy in the painting was so funny, as if to say, what am I doing here when I could be outside playing.

Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs 2Diego Velázquez Old Woman Frying Eggs 

There is much happiness trying to see a legendary Velasquez. I emphasize “trying,” not because of crowds, but glare. The new vogue is under glass. I love when you find some whacko trying to photo this stuff with flash! But it makes things difficult to see, to photograph worse. Luckily, what I botched the first time, the thing is out of focus, there is green glare from paintings behind, I was able to save in the corner detail (below).

Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs detail

Frans Hals Portraits of François Wouters and Maria de HaenFrans Hals’ Portraits of François Wouters and Maria de Haen

Moving from the Flemish to Dutch the rooms go a soft medium green. There are large early Hals, like those portraits displayed at the recent show at the Frick. There was a similar type of painting by Hals as the lady, Maria de Haen. Most of the work of Hals that I am familiar with is smaller, and generally with that sweeping brushwork that makes him so appealing. Here the finish is finer, more textural. Hals, a Haarlem painter, had his own song and dance with a large group portrait which hangs in the Rijksmuseum.

Johannes Vermeer Christ in the House of Martha and MaryJohannes Vermeer Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

I’ve always had doubts about Vermeer and which is, and which isn’t his work. Here things are so thickly drawn, does it have anything to do with camera obscura, that such fine detail, etc. were in later pieces. The value composition is wonderful, especially the drapery.

Gerard Ter Borch A Singing PracticeGerard Ter Borch’s A Singing Practice

Ter Borch was known for these interior dramas. What great textural values and simple rendering. Notice how tiny the scale of the painting as opposed to that of the Vermeer.

Rembrandt A Woman in BedRembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn A Woman in Bed (sigh)

Meindert Hobbema Landscape with a view of the Bergkerk DeventerMeindert Hobbema’s Landscape with a view of the Bergkerk Deventer

A beautiful little Dutch landscape by Hobbema was in sight. It is amazing in this little painting the solidity much like Cezanne. Get this, this is only the ground floor. Next, I went both upstairs and downstairs.

 

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