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Raphael: The Drawings

The Ashmolean, Oxford Until 3rd September 2017 Michelangelo wrote of Raphael in a letter “everything he knew about art he got from me”. Like his predecessor, Raphael was a master draughtsman, able to draw accurately and rapidly, but also with that rare ability of committing his thoughts to paper confidently, translating ideas into lines, defining and…

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Giovanni da Rimini: A 14th-Century Masterpiece Unveiled

National Gallery, London Until 8th October 2017   I dropped into the National Gallery in London last week, keen to see the latest Room 1 exhibition; Giovanni da Rimini: A 14th-Century Masterpiece Unveiled. I love religious art of the 14th century, with its gold backdrops, symbolic colours and mystical depictions of saints and bible stories….

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Masterpiece London, 2017

  29th June – 5th July 2017 Last night I visited Masterpiece London, the annual art and antiques fair, for the first time. Now in its eighth year, the venue in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea brought together 153 of the leading galleries and dealers from London and internationally. Spanning 7,000 years the…

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Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene and Rubens & Rembrandt at the National Gallery

I dropped into the National Gallery recently to catch the latest Room 1 display; Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene (on until 21st May 2017). I really love these small displays. The selections are always wonderful, spotlighting works that are generally obscure, providing an accessible and inspiring experience. The Repentant Magdalene (1660-61) was painted by the little-known Guido Cagnacci and is widely-regarded…

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Michelangelo & Sebastiano

15th March – 25th June 2017 National Gallery, London When it was announced that the National Gallery was putting on an exhibition to combine the titan Michelangelo with the lesser-known artist Sebastiano del Piombo, I was worried that there would be an imbalance. Although del Piombo is undoubtedly one of the most important painters of the first…

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Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932

Royal Academy of Arts, London 11th February – 17th April 2017   This week I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to the private view of the RA’s latest blockbuster, Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932. I didn’t know what to expect, as my art history knowledge is shamefully limited to Western Art. I know of the…

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The Camden Town Group: Art for the Edwardian Era

The Lightbox, Woking Until 22nd January 2017   Art is always a good indicator of what is going on historically at any given time or place, whether a product of it or a reaction against it. When Queen Victoria’s rule in England ended in Britain, the dawning of the Edwardian era brought about a feeling of…

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Beyond Caravaggio

National Gallery, London Until 15th January 2017   A day before my birthday this year, Beyond Caravaggio opened. It could have been coincidence, or perhaps the National Gallery planned it especially for me. Either way, I knew what I would be spending my birthday doing. This exhibition is a survey of the enormous influence of Caravaggio (1571-1610)…

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Painting with Light: Art & Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age

Tate Britain, London Until 25th September   Any show with Pre-Raphaelite or Impressionist works in are always popular, but can sometimes be a matter ‘style over substance’. This Tate show has done something unique, focusing on the very close relationship of photographers and artists, and their interchangeability. The two art forms – and we see…

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Botticelli Reimagined

5th March – 3rd July 2016 V&A Museum, London   We all know Botticelli. We know his deptictions of beautiful Venuses and Virgin Marys, or portraits of rich young men in their finery. His is a name that evokes a mysterious and magical style, always with an undertone of the spiritual, mythological or intellectual. He fused tradition…

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Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art

National Gallery, until 22nd May 2016 King of the French Romantics, Delacroix has long been a favourite of mine. In this groundbreaking exhibition the enduring legacy of a revolutionary painter is explored, hanging his works beside those of his descendents. He had said that paint was ‘only the pretext, only the bridge between the mind of…

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John Constable: Observing the Weather

Until 8th May 2016 The Lightbox, Woking   Constable, a name that is synonymous with our idealised image of the English countryside, is not all that he seems. Firstly, he was a rebel, pioneering new ideas, styles and methods throughout his career. Because of this he did not fit into the Royal Academy’s pedagogic view…

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Brothers in Art: Drawings by Watts and Leighton & Julia Margaret Cameron

Brothers in Art: Drawings by Watts and Leighton Watts Gallery until 19th February 2016   Julia Margaret Cameron V&A Museum until 21st February 2016   To catch up with my lack of gallery visit over Christmas and January, I saw a couple of exhibitions which are closing soon. It was good to see them in succession like this…

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Goya: The Portraits

7th October 2015 – 10 January 2016 National Gallery, London   After seeing an exhibition of Goya‘s drawings earlier this year I was excited to see this exhibition, showing a totally different side to the artist. The Courtauld’s collection of witches and old women gave us Goya’s imagination unleashed, creations of nightmarish figures and macabre scenes; whereas…

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The Art of Bedlam – Richard Dadd

16th June – 1st November, Watts Gallery   A couple of weekends ago I visited the Richard Dadd exhibition at Watts Gallery. I had heard of the artist and had seen an image of one of his paintings in a book, but I had not done my usual reading-up on him. This turned out to be…

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Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art

The British Museum, 26 March – 5 July 2015   Beauty is something that is easily identifiable and usually unquestionable. Marilyn Monroe: beautiful. Sunsets: beautiful. Kittens: beautiful. A beautiful thing has the power to make us gaze in wonder, admire nature and contemplate life. But how has the concept of what we consider to be…

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Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint

Wallace Collection, 12th March – 7th June   Before I start I have to apologise that I only got around to seeing this exhibition the day before it closed, and so recommending it is rather useless. But it was wonderful so I do want to write a little about it. Joshua Reynolds (1723-92) is one of those…

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Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

Before my trip to Rome last year I was looking for a book that would prepare me for the bombardment of history and art that awaited. This book by historian Ross King focuses on Michelangelo Buonarotti’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel while giving a rounded view of the social, political and religious backdrop of the…

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Goya: The Witches & Old Women Album + Renaissance Modern: The Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Drawings

Goya: The Witches & Old Women Album – 26 February – 25 May 2015 The Courtauld Gallery, London   To me Goya is one of those artists who totally changed ideas about what art can be. I find his works express a side of human creativity which is not often (and certainly was never traditionally) considered…

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Sargent: Portraits of Artists & Friends

National Portrait Gallery, 12th February – 25th May 2015   There aren’t many painters whose works cause me to feel completely euphoric when I look at them, but Sargent is one of them. First and foremost a portraitist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was the most popular painter of his generation. A cosmopolitan and educated man his…

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Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanné

Royal Academy of Arts, until 10th April 2015.   Rubens (1577-1640 ) is a name we are all familiar with, even if we cannot name a work by him we could have a go at describing one. Dramatic, extravagant, fleshy, in the Baroque category. We could use the word ‘Rubenesque’. And yet for some reason…

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A Victorian Obsession: The Peréz Simón Collection

Leighton House Museum, London 14th November 2014 – 29th March 2015   Telecommunications billionaire Juan Antonio Pérez Simón is showing a selection of his Victorian paintings at Leighton House Museum, a place which I am ashamed to say was unknown to me before now. Frederic Leighton (1830 – 1896) is a name is synonymous with that visual…

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John Constable: The Making of a Master

20 September 2014 – 11 January 2015   From looking at a few well known works you would think that John Constable (1776 – 1837) was an ordinary painter, churning out perfect images of the English countryside one after another. Picturesque but unremarkable perhaps? Who knew that he was a revolutionary, constantly experimenting and rebelling…

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Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy 1860-1960

Amid the modern and industrious Victorian age William Morris (1834-1896) was a man who strove to revive the tradition the lost traditions of craftsmanship and, very importantly, advocate a fair work ethic. He believed that a happy, well-paid worker would create the most masterly and inspired things of his trade. Of course Morris is most renown for his…

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Giovanni Battista Moroni

Royal Academy of Arts, London 25 October — 25 January   If you have never heard of Moroni then you are in the same sorry position that I was in until a few months ago. Reviews of the exhibition call him  ‘revolutionary’ and a ‘genius’, but throughout my study of Art History I had never…

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