Gallery Travels: Tate London

I had the opportunity to visit England in 1990, we stayed in the countryside but I did get three days in London. The Tate Museum was on the top of my list. They have thousands of artworks in the permanent collection, this is a sampling.  Melinda

Tate Britain (known from 1897 to 1932 as the National Gallery of British Art and from 1932 to 2000 as the Tate Gallery) is an art museum on Millbank in the City of Westminster in London. It is part of the Tate network of galleries in England, with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It is the oldest gallery in the network, having opened in 1897. It houses a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom since Tudor times, and in particular has large holdings of the works of J. M. W. Turner, who bequeathed all his own collection to the nation. It is one of the largest museums in the country.

Tate Britain and Tate Modern are now connected by a high speed boat along the River Thames, which runs from Millbank Millennium Pier immediately outside Tate Britain. The boat is decorated with spots, based on paintings of similar appearance by Damien Hirst. The lighting artwork incorporated in the pier’s structure is by Angela Bulloch.[15]

Vincent van Gogh Shoes 1886 Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Vincent van Gogh Shoes 1886 Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Van Gogh came to Britain at the age of 20. He worked as an art dealer and was transferred by his employer to London for business. He spent three years in the city, walking its streets, crossing its bridges and gaining inspiration from the surroundings. His time in Britain was a life-changing experience, influencing the art he would begin making four years later. Here are seven things to know about Van Gogh’s time in Britain.

1) HE WAS A YOUNG IMMIGRANT

Vincent van Gogh Starry Night over the Rhone 1888 Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France)
Vincent van Gogh Starry Night over the Rhone 1888 Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France)

Before the foundation of the European Union enabled free movement across its borders, Van Gogh travelled to Britain as an immigrant. The chance to live and work in a new country was an opportunity Van Gogh was grateful for. To the people of Victorian London, he was a foreigner. He was happy in London. Britain offered him prosperity. At the age of 20, he was earning more than his father.

He worked in Covent Garden as a dealer in art photography and prints. He lived in South London, first in Brixton and then in Oval. London was twenty times the size of any town that Van Gogh had known. He enjoyed walking its streets, taking his usual route over Westminster Bridge for a scenic commute to work. Later he would write to his brother, fondly remembering these walks over Westminster Bridge. Van Gogh thought Gustave Doré’s The Houses of Parliament by Night captured the magic of London. In Starry Night Over the Rhone 1888 he would seek to replicate the spectacle of a city river at night.

Gustave Doré The Houses of Parliament by Night 1872 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Gustave Doré The Houses of Parliament by Night 1872 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I crossed Westminster Bridge every morning and evening and know what it looks like early in the morning, and in the winter with snow and fog.

Vincent van Gogh

2) HE WAS INSPIRED BY BRITISH REFORM

Vincent van Gogh Prisoners Exercising 1890 State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow, Russia)
Vincent van Gogh Prisoners Exercising 1890 State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow, Russia)

At the time of Van Gogh’s arrival in London in 1873, social reform was beginning to find power in parliament. The ideals of the time were changing, with publications like J S Mill’s On Liberty circulating heavily in the public domain. For a young man working in London to survive, Van Gogh was invested in how Britain was changing and how that would impact him.

Having grown up in a middle-class home, Van Gogh was shocked by the poverty on the streets of London. He began questioning capitalism and vowed to live a meaningful life. When he did decide to become an artist, he wished only to create art ‘for the people’. Prisoners Exercising was based on a print of Newgate Prison in London. It shows the misery and entrapment of the prisoners, while their superiors, a prison guard and two upper-class men in top hats watch on. This image stayed with Van Gogh for many years, finally painting Prisoners Exercising in 1890. It is clear Van Gogh felt a kinship with the behaviour and social position of these prisoners. Van Gogh never profited from his paintings during his lifetime, living in poverty for the majority of his life.

3) HE FELL IN LOVE WITH VICTORIAN CULTURE

Vincent van Gogh Woman Sitting on a Basket with Head in Hands 1883 Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands)
Vincent van Gogh Woman Sitting on a Basket with Head in Hands 1883 Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands)

London presented Van Gogh with a stark new reality to his rural hometown. He was impressed by the city’s modernism, advanced technology and transport. London was a city lit by streetlights, a city powered by electricity and a city that relied on industrial power. It was impressive in all its accomplishments.

The traditions of Victorian England also inspired Van Gogh. When he first came to London, he purchased a top hat, a symbol of the successful Victorian middle-class. He enjoyed Christmas. Modern ideas of Christmas, full of presents, Christmas trees and Thanksgiving style dinners, all came into trend during the Victorian period. There was a novelty to it that appealed to Van Gogh. Similarly, English pastimes such as gardening and rowing on the Thames were a form of enjoyment for him. Van Gogh submerged himself in the culture of his new home.

4) HE ENJOYED ENGLISH LITERATURE

Vincent van Gogh, L'Arlésienne 1890. Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand – MASP (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Vincent van Gogh, L’Arlésienne1890. Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand – MASP (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

The idea of this Victorian Christmas was fuelled by Van Gogh’s love for Charles Dickens. He enjoyed re-reading Dickens’s Christmas Stories every year. They can even be seen in the foreground of L’Arlésienne.

English Literature was a great love of his. He continued to read Dickens until his death. In his letters, Van Gogh mentions over one hundred books by British authors. Writers like George Eliot, with her social realism novel Middlemarch, influenced Van Gogh’s understanding of social reform. The idea to create ‘art for the people’ was inspired by Eliot’s socialist prose.

His favourite though was John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is an allegory of a man who must travel on a path filled with many obstacles that test his faith in the Christian God. Van Gogh, as an immigrant, returned to the idea of life on the road, a figure that haunted his drawings and paintings for the entirety of his career.

READ LIKE VAN GOGH

5) BRITAIN SET VAN GOGH ON A RELIGIOUS CAREER

Vincent van Gogh Pollarded Willows 1888 Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands)
Vincent van Gogh Pollarded Willows 1888 Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands)

The Pilgrim’s Progress centred heavily on a Christian message about devotion to God. During his time in London, Van Gogh became more and more religious. It was at this time that he decided he wished to pursue a career as a priest.

A year after he left London, he was volunteering as a pastor in Borinage, a mining village in Belgium. Britain’s rising socialism had influenced Van Gogh so much that he donated much of what he and the Church had to the villagers to alleviate their poverty. The Church authorities were not pleased and fired Van Gogh for harming their governance in the region.

6) BRITAIN ENCOURAGED HIS LOVE FOR ART

Vincent van Gogh Augustine Rouline (La berceuse) 1889 Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Vincent van Gogh Augustine Rouline (La berceuse) 1889 Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

It was after leaving the Church that Van Gogh joined the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Van Gogh had become interested in recording the surroundings he saw while he walked and his brother, Theo, encouraged him to train as an artist.

Art had been present throughout Van Gogh’s life and career as an art dealer. In London, he enjoyed visits to the Royal Academy to view favourites like John Constable and the Pre-Raphaelitepainters. Later, Van Gogh would use English titles for some of his works, hoping that they would sell well in Britain.

In many of his letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh speaks about his love for art and London’s galleries. At this time, he lacked confidence in his own talent. From the way he spoke about the artists whose work was being exhibited in London, it is clear they inspired him immensely.

My dear Theo,

Thanks for your letter. I think I’ll be leaving here on Thursday, 25 or Saturday, 27 June, if nothing unforeseen happens. I’m longing so much to see everyone and Holland. I’m also looking forward to having a good talk with you about art, start thinking about any questions you might want to put to me. We have many beautiful things here, including a spirited painting by Jacquet, and a beautiful Boldini. There are beautiful things at the Royal Academy this year; among others Tissot has 3 paintings. I’ve been drawing again recently, but it was nothing special. I was glad to see in your letter that you visit the Haanebeeks.
Adieu, goodbye for now, give my regards to all my friends.
Ever,Your brother. Vincent.

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh

London, 16 June 1874

7) HE LEFT A LEGACY

Francis Bacon, ‘Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV’ 1957
Francis Bacon
Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV1957
Tate
© Estate of Francis Bacon

Many British artists have been influenced by Van Gogh and ensured he left a legacy in Britain. Harold Gilmanwas one of these champions. Gilman applied van Gogh’s use of bold colours and expressive brushwork to English motifs. A reproduction of Van Gogh’s portrait would hang in his studio that Gilman would salute. He would hang his paintings next to those of Van Gogh’s. The influence can be seen if you compare Gilman’s In Gloucestershire with Van Gogh’s Horse Chestnut Tree in Blossom.

Even later, Francis Bacon and his peers would position Van Gogh as a painter of hope after the destruction of the Second World War. Bacon would go on to paint a study of Van Gogh, based on one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits. Van Gogh inspired a movement of British expressionist realism. Bacon’s artistic growth from earthy pictures to a more vivid, mature style, echo the works of Van Gogh.

Over a century after Van Gogh’s time in Britain, we are still aware of him and his work. He has become known in the public conscience as one of the most well-known artists to ever have lived. In our schools, he is one of the first painters taught to children. Van Gogh may have only have spent a matter of years in Britain, but he has stayed with us in the many decades after.

Vincent van Gogh Horse Chestnut Tree in Blossom 1887 The Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Vincent van Gogh Horse Chestnut Tree in Blossom 1887 The Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Harold Gilman In Gloucestershire 1916 Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) Photo © Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) UK / The Bridgeman Art Library
Harold Gilman In Gloucestershire1916 Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery)Photo © Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery) UK / The Bridgeman Art LibraryAs you can see Vincent Van Gough is one of my favorite Impressionist artist.

 

The Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists (and one writer), founded in London in 1848. They were opposed to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the ideal as exemplified in the work of Raphael.

Think you know the Pre-Raphaelites?

We take a look at some little-known facts and bust some myths about this group of Victorian painters

1. THEY STARTED OFF AS A SECRET SOCIETY

The blue plaque at 7 Gower Street celebrating the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood © Derek Kendall, English Heritage
The blue plaque at 7 Gower Street celebrating the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
© Derek Kendall, English Heritage

When John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the other founders of the movement first began marking their paintings with the initials PRB in 1848, they refused to explain the mark. However by 1850 the meaning – Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood – was leaked (possibly by Rossetti). The society members and affiliates began to explain what they meant by it, just in time for the actual brotherhood to eventually dissolve in the early 1850s.

On 1 January, 1850, they published The Germ: Thoughts towards Nature in Poetry, Literature and Art a shortlived periodical that proclaimed:

The endeavour held in view throughout the writings on
Art will be to encourage and enforce an entire adherence to
the simplicity of nature; and also to direct attention, as an
auxiliary medium, to the comparatively few works which Art
has yet produced in this spirit.

2. THE PRB WERE RADICAL IN THEIR TIME, AND NOT EVERYONE LIKED IT

In fact most of the establishment couldn’t bear it. These young artists aimed to overturn everything artists were being taught at the Royal Academy School. These teachings held up the Renaissance painter Raphael as the pinnacle of artistic achievement, but that the PRB saw as formulaic and backward looking. By going back ‘Pre-Raphael’ to medieval and early Renaissance painters, they planned to recapture what they saw as simplicity and truth in art. Inspired by the flat compositions and minute detail of these early paintings, particularly frescoes, they rejected any hierarchy of symbols in their paintings (giving equal weight to the figures and the environment surrounding them). They painted directly on to white grounds making their colours startlingly bright, and gave their forms sharp outlines with little shadow.

In 1850, Charles Dickens described Millais’s depiction of the Virgin Mary in Christ in the House of His Parents as a degenerate type, one who was ‘horrible in her ugliness’.

Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, ‘Christ in the House of His Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’)’ 1849–50
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
Christ in the House of His Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’) 1849–50
Tate

3. PEOPLE REALLY LIKE THEM NOW, THOUGH

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia 1851–2 and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Beloved 1865–6 have been on an international tour over the last year, to the US, Russia, Japan and Italy where they were collectively seen by over 1.1 million people. Opheliaconsistently tops the bill as the most looked at art work on the Tate website and the the most popular postcard in the shop.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘The Beloved (‘The Bride’)’ 1865–6
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Beloved (‘The Bride’) 1865–6
Tate

4. JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS WAS A CHILD PRODIGY

Growing up in Jersey, Millais was apparently expelled from his nursery aged four. However, his growing talent for drawing was noticed, not only by his mother and drawing master in St Helier, but also by prominent visitors to the island who suggested the young Millais be taken to the Royal Academy Schools in London. The family moved to London when Millias was nine, and by 11 he was admitted to the Royal Academy, as their youngest ever student.

Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, ‘Ophelia’ 1851–2
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
Ophelia 1851–2
Tate

5. THEY WERE THE FIRST ‘HIGH DEFINITION’ PAINTERS

When TV and film began to be filmed in digital HD, it caused a major headache for set dressers and props makers. Film’s forgiving grain and the relatively narrow depth of field, could be relied on to cast a warm glow over a painted backdrop or a hastily-amended costume, and not draw too much attention away from the action. Digital HD, however, suddenly brought absolutely everything in shot into horrifying focus. Truth was in all the tiny details. And so it was for the Pre-Raphaelites. They were accused of using the new technology of photography to paint from, though in fact they did not, always painting form the true natural source, often outdoors. Their paintings do, however, have what Tate curator Alison Smith calls ‘a discordant quality of focus – rather like a high definition film, where the whole depth of field is sharp’. This does make it hard for the eye to read quickly: do you focus on Ophelia’s face, her hands, her dress, the flowers? But it also means that these paintings don’t give up their secrets too easily – they benefit from a long look.

6. LIZZIE SIDDAL DIDN’T DIE FROM POSING IN THE BATH FOR OPHELIA

Though it probably didn’t do her any favours. Millais had her in the bath from December 1851 until the end of March 1852, and they normally kept the water warm by placing oil lamps placed below. On one occasion, the lamps went out. Millais didn’t notice, and Siddal didn’t mention it. She caught a cold which cost her father £50 (over £3000 today) in doctor’s bills – he sent the bills to Millais.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘Beata Beatrix’ c.1864–70
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Beata Beatrix c.1864–70
Tate

Siddal was in truth, Rossetti’s muse, though she sat for others of the PRB. Their relationship continued over a decade, from the early 1850s to their unhappy marriage in 1860, and to her eventual death (possibly suicide) from an overdose of laudanum, an opium derivative. It was this addiction that killed her, whether by accident or design. Rossetti’s final homage to her, Beata Beatrix, shows a dove bringing Beatrix (Lizzie) a poppy, of course the source of the drug caused her death.

7. DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI KEPT A MINI ZOO AT CHELSEA

William Bell Scott, ‘Rossetti’s Wombat Seated in his Master’s Lap’ 1871
William Bell Scott
Rossetti’s Wombat Seated in his Master’s Lap 1871
Tate

In 1862 Rossetti moved to 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, a house with a large garden that he turned into a miniature zoo. Rossetti had kangaroos and wallabies, armadillos, a racoon, a Canadian woodchuck and a Japanese salamander, as well as larger animals like a zebu. He even discussed the purchase of an African elephant with the wild animal supplier, Charles Jamrach. His favourite animal however, was a wombat named Top. Rossetti loved visiting the wombats at London Zoo, and had purchased two as pets from Jamrach. Unfortunately Top did not care of the change of scenery, lasting only a couple of months. Rossetti had him stuffed and displayed him in the entrance to the house.

 

 

Art, Artists, Interaction and the Process of Change — Guest Blogger Art, Photography and Poetry

“Art will never be able to exist without nature.” Pierre Bonnard Art and form are linked with function and nature, with feeling and seeing, with emotion and the relationship between the observed and men and women’s particular unique situations and particular environmental circumstances; and their reaction to and interaction with it. “Art is about building […]

via Art, Artists, Interaction and the Process of Change — Art, Photography and Poetry

Camille Pissarro​ One of My Favs

It is strange that most of Camille Pissarro’s artwork I don’t care for. Landscapes, people working in fields, there all very nice but don’t have as much interest as Boulivorde Martmontre Avenue at Night, 1897.

This piece draws me into all the different brush strokes, nothing clearly defined yet perfectly understand. I can feel the excitement of people bustling around on a brisk night. His use of reflections is the icing on the cake.

Thank you for coming by to see on my favorite Impressionist/Post Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro.

CAMILLE PISSARRO

(July 10, 1830 – November 13, 1903)

See the source image

Camille Pissarro (July 10, 1830 – November 13, 1903) was a French Impressionist painter. His importance resides not only in his visual contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, but also in his patriarchal standing among his colleagues, particularly Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin.

Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to Abraham Gabriel Pissarro, a Portuguese Sephardic Jew, and Rachel Manzana-Pomie, from the Dominican Republic. Pissarro lived in St. Thomas until age 12, when he went to a boarding school in Paris. He returned to St. Thomas where he drew in his free time. Pissarro was attracted to political anarchy, an attraction that may have originated during his years in St. Thomas.

Masterpiece: Edouard Manet

To start the day with humor, I searched the WP feee photo library, here is Van Go. 

green and white volkswagen combi
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

 It’s hard to pin down my top five favorite pieces of art, no doubt you feel the same. I do have two close to my heart and I’ll share one with you today. M


Edourardo Manet painted one of my favorites, His last work was called A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, which was displayed at the Salon, in 1882. She pulls me into the painting. The Barmaid is beautiful but the painting doesn’t give me the feeling of her posing.  

A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1882 by Edouard Manet

Prior to that year, he received a special award from the French Government, which was the Légion d’honneur. It was one of the highest form of recognition that he has received throughout his life. 

His last work was called A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, which was displayed at the Salon, in 1882. Prior to that year, he received a special award from the French Government, which was the Légion d’honneur. It was one of the highest form of recognition that he has received throughout his life.

The Folies-Bergère was one of the most elaborate variety-show venues in Paris, showcasing entertainment ranging from ballets to circus acts. Another attraction was the barmaids, who were assumed by many contemporary observers to be available as clandestine prostitutes. By depicting one of these women and her male customer on an imposing scale, Manet brazenly introduced a morally suspect, contemporary subject into the realm of high art. By treating the topic with deadpan seriousness and painterly brilliance, Manet staked his claim to be remembered as the heroic “painter of modern life” envisaged by critics like Charles Baudelaire.

Everything is mere appearance, the pleasures of a passing hour, a midsummer night’s dream. Only painting, the reflection of a reflection – but the reflection, too, of eternity – can record some of the glitter of this mirage.” – Édouard Manet

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