Blackpaint 177


Frederick Cayley Robinson

At the National Gallery.  He died in 1927.  The NG has a suite of paintings he did for a hospital which has been demolished and one in particular on show now.  It’s sort of a cross between Pre-Raphs and very high class children’s illustration, although he said he was influenced by Puvis de Chavannes.  The painting is a pastoral scene – a river winding through its plain in the centre of the picture, with a blinding column of sunlight striking down onto its surface.  Flock of woolly sheep in bottom left, Mabel Lucie Attwell-ish shepherd girls on right, under a couple of silver birch trees, I think, or maybe some sort of willow.

Beautifully painted, and when I looked closely at the sheep, saw a number of small, randomly distributed red dots, which disappeared when I stepped back.  Went in again, to make sure it wasn’t  my eyesight – no, there they were.  Is this some well-known technique of which I am ignorant?  The birch bark was fantastic too.  Interestingly – perhaps – there was a very  thin black outline round the figures, giving them the slightest Rousseau-type, “stuck on” effect. 

As well as this picture, there was a great self-portrait, signed in a cod-mediaeval way; I think he was going for Holbein (about two thirds there).

Fakes exhibition at the NG

Forgot the proper title – worth a visit anyway and it’s FREE (I suppose they can’t really charge you for looking at fakes…).

Not all, or even most, are fakes actually – there are some restorations, different versions by same artist, wrongful attributions  made in  good faith, reconstructions from original  materials – and some genuine  ones (Madonna of the Pinks, Uccello’s St.George and the Dragon) that were originally thought to be fakes.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff on materials, especially pigment – Prussian Blue, invented in early 18th century, seems to have been crucial several times.

There’s a “Madonna of the Iris”, purportedly Durer, actually by a bunch of different artists.  I have to say that, although the madonna is no great shakes, the red fabric of her gown is beautifully done in that International Gothic style.

By contrast, the “Poussin” picture, “The Plague at Ashdod”, was terrible – see the boy in the right hand corner!  It was traced too, I think the blurb said; the faker must have been tired by the time he got to that bit.

The Verrocchio with the two angels (right angel done by a pupil, they think) – his distinguishing features are the lips and eyelashes; always a little prominent (check out  Tobias and the Angel in the main gallery – the one with the little dog they think was done by Leonardo).

There are a couple of Botticellis, featuring his beautiful hippy women with their sleepy, serene eyes, but the star has to be that Uccello – I never thought it looked much upstairs, but down here in level -3, it glows.

Per Kirkeby

Got the book of the recent Tate exhibition reduced (£6.00) – I like the stuff better now.  Maybe there was just too much in the exhibition.  Anyway, as well as himself, he reminds me of a bunch of other painters, as I flick through: Rauschenberg, in the car ones with the dots; Peter Doig, in some of the landscape-y things; and Sigmar Polke with his cartoon figures on horseback.

Rubens

Back upstairs, I was rather disturbed to find the Rubens women, reminiscent as they sometimes are of the Captain  Pugwash cartoons, somewhat erotic.  I clearly need to take up some sort of hobby.

Blackpaint

19.08.10

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