News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st August 2007


The State Rooms Of Buckingham Palace, which are used to receive and entertain guests of State on ceremonial and official occasions, have once again been thrown open to visitors. They are furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; Sevres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. This year, the special display celebrates the Queen and Prince Philip's diamond wedding anniversary, featuring the bridal gown designed by Norman Hartnell, in ivory silk, with a 15 foot train, decorated with crystals and over 10,000 seed pearls, satin shoes made by Edward Rayne, and a diamond tiara and pearl necklace, together with the bridesmaid's dresses and Prince Philip's dress uniform. Accompanying these is a selection from over 2,500 wedding gifts the couple received, including the 'Girls of Great Britain' tiara and 'County of Cornwall' diamond and ruby bracelet from Queen Mary, a Steuben glass bowl and cover engraved with a merry-go-round from President Truman, a Cartier diamond and platinum necklace from the Nizam of Hyderabad, a pair of Meissen chocolate pots from Pope Pius XII, a gold and jade necklace from King Farouk of Egypt, and an intricate piece of lace woven from yarn spun by Mahatma Ghandi. Visitors can also enjoy a walk in the 39 acre garden with its 19th century lake, which provides a haven for wild life in the centre of London, and offers views of the Garden Front of the Palace. Buckingham Palace until 28th September.

The Dawn Of Colour celebrates the centenary of the Autochrome and the birth of colour photography. Whilst the fundamental principles were understood by the 1860s, colour photography remained elusive, and the search for a practical process of colour photography became photography's 'Holy Grail'. This exhibition reveals how several pioneers succeeded in making colour photographs, but their processes were complicated and impractical. Photographic plates of the time were sensitive only to certain colours, and only when 'panchromatic' plates, sensitive to all colours were introduced, was the way clear for the invention of the first practicable method of colour photography - the Autochrome process - by Auguste and Louis Lumiere. Best known as film pioneers with their invention of the Cinematographe in 1895, they had also been experimenting with colour photography for several years. Autochrome plates are covered in microscopic red, green and blue-violet coloured potato starch grains, and when the photograph is taken, light passes through these colour filters to the photographic emulsion. Along with the search for, and explanation of, the process, the exhibition features Autochromes by famous photographers, such as Henry Essenhigh Corke, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Etheldreda Janet Laing, Mervyn Joseph Pius OGorman, John Cimon Warburg and Lionel de Rothchild, as well as examples by anonymous amateurs, covering a wide range of subjects - portraiture, still-life, travel and documentary photography. National Media Museum, Bradford until 23rd September.

Dutch Portraits: The Age Of Rembrandt And Frans Hals surveys the unprecedented range and variety of painted portraiture in the Netherlands of the 17th century, and gives insights into the fashion, occupations and ambitions of the merchants and entrepreneurs - the newly emerged middle class elite. To establish and reinforce their social position, the bourgeoisie regularly commissioned portraits to commemorate the important moments in their lives: births, marriages, and professional and civic appointments, and artists were forced to find new solutions in portrait painting to satisfy the evolving demands of their clientele. This exhibition comprises around 60 works, all painted between 1599 and 1683, including 9 by Rembrandt and 12 by Frans Hals, who were the greatest masters, but tens, if not hundreds, of other painters also worked in this genre, and paintings by 29 of these are also featured. Exhibits range from small portraits meant for the private home, to much larger portraits for and about the public sphere. Among the highlights are Rembrandt's 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp' and 'The Syndics'; Frans Hals portrait celebrating the wedding of the wealthy merchant couple Abraham Massa and Beatrix van der Laen; the family portraits 'Willem Kerckhoven and his Family' by Jan Mijtens and 'The Twins Clara and Aelbert de Bray' by Salomon de Bray; and the large scale group portraits of members of charitable institutions and civic guards, 'Loef Vredericx' by Thomas de Keyser and 'The Meagre Company' by Frans Hals and Peter Codde. National Gallery until 16th September.


Spirit & Life: Masterpieces Of Islamic Art features over 165 rare Islamic painted miniatures, glass, metalwork, jewels, plates, vases and manuscripts (many of which took a lifetime to complete) from the collection of the Aga Khan, never before displayed in Britain. Highlights include: probably the earliest extant manuscript of the Canon of Medicine of Ibn Sina, used in Europe and the Middle East as the standard medical textbook for over 500 years; a folio from the 'Houghton' Shahnama, decorated with 258 miniatures, attributable to almost all of the major Persian artists of the first half of the 16th century, one of the finest illustrated manuscripts of any period; a page from the Blue Qur'an, a wonder of Islamic calligraphy created in the early 10th century; a dervish's begging bowl, from the end of the 16th century, made in the form of a boat, with a wide band of elegant inscriptions in Persian and several bands of floral interlace decoration; an 11th century bird incense burner, a masterpiece of medieval bronze casting, with pierce work decoration; a late 10th century Egyptian lustre jar, decorated with knotting or braiding cables and foliated kufic calligraphy; three folios from the Akhlaq-i Nasiri, a philosophical treatise dealing with ethics, social justice and politics from medieval Iran, uniquely illustrated with 17 full page miniatures; and one of the most sumptuous and rarest examples of a complete robe from the Mongol period, originating in Central Asia in the late 13th or early 14th century. The Ismaili Centre, South Kensington, London until 31st August.

Through The Whole Island: Excursions In Great Britain illustrates how the people of this country, together with visitors from overseas, have explored England, Scotland and Wales, and described, explained, praised and criticized what they found. Over many centuries, printed accounts of journeys undertaken for scientific, scholarly or political enquiry, or simply for pleasure, were instrumental in building public perceptions of the landscapes, commerce and social character of this island. Among the highlights are a first edition of Daniel Defoe's travel book 'A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain', from which the exhibition takes its title; a set of field notes from Charles Darwin's geological tour through North Wales, illustrating the importance of travel in the development of his scientific thought; an exquisite manuscript road book drawn by George Taylor in Scotland in 1785; a 17th century engraved map of Wales, with a triangular distance table showing the mileage between major towns; an early railway map of the west of England; an illustrated Wolseley motor car catalogue from 1910; and accounts of artistic tours around Britain by J M W Turner, and pioneer of the one man show, the songwriter Charles Dibdin; together with fictional and poetic accounts of travel, such as William Combe's character Dr Syntax setting out on a tour in search of a wife, with coloured illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson, a copy of William Cowper's poem 'John Gilpin', and William Wordsworth's 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey' from the Lyrical Ballads. Cambridge University Library until 22nd December.

Heath Robinson's Helpful Solutions is a selection of cartoons by William Heath Robinson, highlighting his daft but genial solutions for the world in wartime and peacetime - the largest to be staged for 15 years. It includes over 100 original drawings and sketches by the brilliant illustrator and inventor of imaginary machines, who is one of the few artists whose name has entered the Oxford English Dictionary, to signify 'any absurdly ingenious and impracticable device'. This exhibition displays many of the quirky solutions that Heath Robinson developed to assist his earnest cast of characters. A top-hatted gentleman in his long-johns carries out a precarious rescue of a damsel in distress, an engine driver stops to assist a stranded eel, a new method is devised for stuffing a turkey, a novel system proposed for testing mattresses, a device for resuscitating stale railway scones for redistribution at the station buffets, and 'The multimovement tabby silencer', which automatically throws water at serenading cats. No matter how perilous or tricky the problem, Heath Robinson, the King of contraptions, could be sure to offer a helpful solution, and a wholly 'home made' and totally British one: lashed-up and bodged-together in a shed at the bottom of the garden, using bits and pieces, odds and ends and this and that - invariably powered by pulley-systems constructed from lengths of knotted string of the kind grandfathers used to keep in old Oxo tins "In case they came in useful". As a bonus, as well as the drawings, the exhibition also features two three dimensional Heath Robinson machines. The Cartoon Museum, London until 7th October.

Global Cities looks at the changing faces of ten dynamic international cities: Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo. Exploring each city through five thematic lenses - speed, size, density, diversity and form - the exhibition draws on comparative socio-economic and geographic data originally assembled by the London School of Economics for the 10th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2006 Venice Biennale. This unique show presents existing films, videos and photographs by artists and architects Atelier Bow Wow, Huseyin Alptekin, Francis Alys, Laurence Bonvin, Osman Bozkurt, Hala Elkoussy, Kendell Geers, Dryden Goodwin, Andreas Gursky, Naoya Hatakeyama, Francesco Jodice, Eva Koch, Maha Maamoun, Neutral, Scott Peterman, Melanie Smith, Dean Sameshima, Guy Tillim, Paromita Vohra and Yang Zhenzhong, to offer subjective and intimate interpretations of urban conditions in all ten cities. It addresses major issues facing some of the most influential urban centres around the world, from migration to mobility, from social integration to sustainable growth. The exhibition uses London as a touchstone for comparison, and special commissions by Nigel Coates, Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, Fritz Haeg, OMA*AMO/Rem Koolhaas, Nils Norman and Richard Wentworth explore the local context through issues such as sustainability, public space and social inclusion. Tate Modern until 27th August.

Georges De La Tour: Master Of Candlelight offers the first opportunity in Britain to view paintings by the recently 'rediscovered' early 17th century French painter Georges de La Tour, focusing on his late period, during which he concentrated on the effect of light on the human figure. For 300 years La Tour's paintings were incorrectly attributed to a number of artists, and it was not until 1972 that all his surviving works were brought together in a major retrospective exhibition. La Tour's mature paintings are characterised by a dramatic simplification of the human form, lit only by the glare of candles, often with the light source unseen. His religious works in particular have a monumental simplicity and mystery. Paintings on show include 'St. Jerome Reading', 'St Sebastian Attended by Irene', 'The Choir Boy (A Young Singer)' and 'The Dice Players'. A revelation.

The Shadow is an accompanying exhibition of contemporary works, focusing on the psychological and symbolic meanings attached to the shadow. The theme is explored through installation, video and photography by artists including: Doug Aitken, Laurie Anderson, Carlo Benvenuto, Christian Boltanski, Fabrizio Corneli, Ceal Floyer, Mona Hatoum, Gary Hill, Nino Longobardi, Urs Luthi, Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini, Tracey Moffatt, Margherita Morgantin, Marvin E Newman, Annie Ratti, Rosanna Rossi, Anri Sala, Susanne Simonson, Fiona Tan, Andy Warhol, William Wegman and Francesca Woodman.

Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 9th September.

The Bombe, is the culmination of a 12 year programme of meticulous reconstruction of one of the machines that cracked 'unbreakable' Nazi Enigma codes during the Second World War. The German Enigma encrypting machine (an electro-mechanical device that relied on a series of rotating 'wheels' to scramble plain text messages into incoherent ciphertext) - is about the size of a typewriter. The Bombe, a huge and noisy 'Heath Robinson' looking affair viewed through today's eyes, took up a whole room. It was the brainchild of Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, combined with the engineering skills of the British Tabulating Machine Company, and was designed to unscramble the encrypted messages, by finding common words or phrases known as 'cribs', requiring many eliminating calculations. The Bombe's success, together with the other activities at the secret national code breaking establishment, helped shorten the Second World War by up to two years, and Turing's work also paved the way for subsequent computer technology. The exhibition, housed within one of the original wartime buildings, which also includes an Enigma machine, one of the even more complex Lorenz encryption devices, and Colossus, the world's first practical electronic digital information processing machine, depicts the incredibly complex processes of interception, decryption, translation, interpretation and analysis that were needed to produce the vital intelligence that proved so important in ending the war. Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, continuing.


Seaman Schepps (1881-1972): America's Court Jeweller reveals the highly original designs and brilliant craftsmanship, of the bold and colourful jewellery that entranced mid 20th century American society. Commissions from many White House families led the Washington Post to dub Seaman Schepps 'America's Court Jeweller', and Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Doris Duke, Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, and the Duchess of Windsor as well as members of the du Pont, Mellon and Roosevelt families were amongst his clients. Schepps's eye catching jewellery not only appealed to modern, independent 20th century women - Andy Warhol was an avid collector. One thing that made the jewels of Seaman Schepps so distinctive and memorable was that although he never shied away from using diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds, he also incorporated an astonishing diversity of natural materials such as seashells, sandalwood, walnut, Asian carvings and rock crystals. This exhibition comprises over 150 pieces of jewellery by Schepps, which trace the development of his innovative and extravagant style, from the earliest known surviving piece, a pair of bracelets in Art Deco style, composed of engraved emeralds and engraved ruby leaves with diamonds in white gold made in 1931, through changing fashions and styles, to a large natural coral branch bracelet with yellow gold, emeralds and diamonds, which he presented to one of his employees on her 25th anniversary with the company in 1969. Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, London until 27th August.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is with us again, as it has been every year since 1769 - the usual collection of the good, the bad and the ugly - from amateurs to RA's, proving that popular taste and critical approval find no meeting point. Around 1,000 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from over 9,000 submissions, for inclusion in the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world. Over £70,000 is given out to artists included in the exhibition through 10 prizes. This year, the show has been masterminded by Bill Woodrow, Ian Ritchie and Paul Huxley, who have chosen the theme of Light to inspire new work from artists responding across all the various media on display. There is also a gallery featuring the work of invited artists curated by the sculptor Tony Cragg. A highlight is David Hockney's massive 'First', a fifty part composition of trees in the Yorkshire lamndscape. Other artists featured in this year's show include Anthony Caro, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Michael Craig-Martin, Anthony Green, Jasper Johns, Anselm Kiefer, Harland Miller, Mimmo Paladino, Tom Phillips, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Michael Sandle, Antoni Tapies, Jane and Louise Wilson and Bill Viola. There are also two memorial galleries dedicated to showing the works of the landscape and portrait painter Kyffin Williams and the abstract painter and collage maker Sandra Blow, both of whom died last year. The Royal Academy of Arts until 19th August.

Towards A New Laocoon considers how the sculptural aspects of Laocoon have been interpreted and re-interpreted by artists over time. The Antique group - which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons in the grip of two giant snakes - was rediscovered in 1506 and almost immediately put on show in the Vatican. Since that time artists and writers have succumbed to its fascination, and its inspirational quality. This exhibition looks at Laocoon through a British lens, focusing on juxtapositions of seven works from the 18th and 20th centuries. While the historic works reference the original sculpture, highlighting interest in the Laocoon's drama, narrative, expression and status, the more recent pieces take the Laocoon's more formal characteristics, turning a figurative story into a more pop and abstract one. Eduardo Paolozzi, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon have each made a number of works that respond to or mirror the Laocoon. Paolozzi was fascinated by classical heritage, and owned his own small scale cast of the group. His works variously redefine its serpentine coils and imprisoned forms. Cragg's works also focus on the forms, which are caught up by the snakes, binding them together in an endless deadly embrace, but rendered in everyday, urban found objects. Deacon's monumental Laocoon similarly plays on the quality of time, by locking straight and curved wooden sections into one great continuous spiral. There is an accompanying show of sculptor's drawings on photographs, providing their contemporary response to classical forms. Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, until 12th August.