News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd December 2009


Medieval And Renaissance Galleries have undergone a £30m redesign by architects MUMA, redisplaying more than 1,800 objects from the period AD300 to 1600. Ten galleries, occupying an entire wing of the building, will, for the first time, present the collections in continuous displays to tell the story of European art and design from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Renaissance. The displays are chronological, and each gallery has its own narrative, highlighting themes, stories, historical figures and important patrons, such as the Emperor Charlemagne and the Medici family. Among the highlights are an entire gallery devoted to the work of 15th century Italian sculptor Donatello; Luca della Robbia's 12 glazed terracotta ceiling roundels from Piero de' Medici's study of 1450; the 17th century choir screen from the Cathedral of St John at 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands; the most splendid of the enamel caskets dedicated to St Thomas Becket; the Symmachi Panel, one of the finest surviving ivories from the Late Antique period in Rome; the elaborate 12th century Gloucester Candlestick; the Lorsch Gospels Cover, one of the largest and grandest ivory medieval book covers to have survived from the Court of Charlemagne; the gold and enamelled 15th century Merode Cup, with scenes of ostentatious display related to hunting, dining and courtship; an 11th century statuette of the Virgin and Child, which is the only Byzantine ivory figure to be carved entirely in the round; and the Boar and Bear Hunt, one of the Devonshire

Hunting Tapestries, the only great hunting tapestries to have survived from the

15th century. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain celebrates the bicentenary of the pioneer landscape painter and innovator with watercolour. Paul Sandby played a key role in promoting the appreciation of spectacular scenery across Britain, and inspired many later travellers and artists. The exhibition features over 100 items, including oil paintings, watercolours, gouaches, prints and sketchbooks. Early in his career Sandby was draughtsman in the Military Survey, based in Edinburgh, and produced numerous ground breaking landscape and genre studies. These works became well known through prints, and began the tradition of depicting the drama and beauty of Scottish landscape, which was later developed by artists such as Runciman, Nasmyth, More and Turner. Works in the exhibition from this period include 'Roslin Castle', 'Horse Fair on Bruntsfield Links, Edinburgh' and part of the 'Great Map of Scotland' of around 1753. Sandby then settled in London, became a founder member of the Royal Academy, and made many highly finished watercolours and gouaches at Windsor, including 'View of Windsor on a Rejoicing Night of 1768. He delighted in the study of rural and urban views, street scenes, royal parks and ancient castles, and always retained an interest in fascinating anecdotal details, which embrace the fashions, occupations and entertainments of the people he encountered. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, until 7th February.

Identity: Eight Rooms, Nine Lives looks at how science has attempted to determine human identity, and how we ceaselessly try to determine our own sense of self. The exhibition explores contributions made by diverse individuals spanning the worlds of science, the arts, and history, who have provided a fuller understanding of what distinguishes each one of us, as well as a set of challenging questions about our own sense of our individuality. It is framed around eight rooms, each showcasing the life and work of an individual or individuals whose lives or achievements have influenced our thinking about human identity. The individuals are: Sir Alec Jeffreys, a British geneticist who developed the technique of DNA profiling; April Ashley, one of the first people in Britain to undergo gender reassignment; Claude Cahun, who created a remarkable series of photographic self-portraits during the 1920s and 1930s; Fiona Shaw, the actress who roles have included Shakespeare's Richard II; Sir Francis Galton, who is credited with the invention of fingerprinting; Franz Joseph Gall, a 19th century pioneer of phrenology; The Hinch Family, who have had twins in their family for three generations; and Samuel Pepys, whose detailed private diary is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. Wellcome Collection, London, until 7th April.


Points Of View: Capturing The 19th Century In Photographs examines the development and influence of photography, from its invention in 1839 up to the growth of a popular amateur market in the early 20th century. The exhibition shows how photography has played a critical role as a primary means of visual expression in the modern age. It explores the dramatic transformations in world order during the 19th century that shaped much of the world we live in today. From the first tentative 'drawings of shadows' produced in the mid 1830s, to its universal acceptance as a leisure pursuit, photography was swept along by a tide of entrepreneurial activity throughout the 19th century. As an influential new artistic and documentary medium, photography rapidly developed into a lucrative profession. Science, government, industry and a growing media quickly recognised its power to reflect and to shape society, while both artists and amateurs embraced its potential for personal expression. Beginning with the work of William Henry Fox Talbot and other influential pioneers, the exhibition includes many of the most celebrated names in 19th century photograph such as Francis Frith, Felix Teynard and Samuel Bourne. Some 250 images range from portraits of the famous, through the industrial, technological and scientific triumphs of the age, and first glimpses of exotic locations around the world, to the everyday working (and playing) lives of ordinary people. British Library until 7th March.

The Dark Monarch explores the influence of folklore, mysticism, mythology and the occult on the development of art in Britain. Focusing on works from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, the exhibition considers, in particular, the relationship they have to the landscape and legends of the British Isles. It examines the development of early Modernism, Surrealism and Neo-Romanticism in Britain, as well as the reappearance of esoteric and arcane references in a significant strand of contemporary art practice. The exhibition features works by important modernists and surrealists including Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ithell Colquhoun; Neo-Romantics such as Cecil Collins, John Piper, Leslie Hurry and John Craxton; as well as emerging and established contemporary artists including Cerith Wyn Evans, Mark Titchner, Eva Rothschild, Simon Periton, Clare Woods, Steven Claydon, John Stezeker, Derek Jarman and Damien Hirst. Exploring the tension between progressive modernity and romantic knowledge, the show focuses on the way the British landscape is encoded with various histories - geological, mythical and magical. It examines magic as a counterpoint to modernity's transparency and rational progress, and also draws out the links modernity has with notions such as fetishism, mana, totem, and the taboo. Formally thought of as opposing Modernism, the careful juxtaposition and selection of works on display suggests that these products of illusion and delusion in fact belong to modernity. Tate St Ives until 10th January.

Winter Wonderland, set between Hyde Park Corner and the Serpentine, is the ultimate winter theme park experience. The 20 acre site features London's largest outdoor ice rink - created with 130,000 litres of frozen water, weighing 130 tonnes - able to accommodate up to 400 skaters at a time, with ice guides to help beginners; a toboggan slide; a haunted mansion; an ice palace mirror maze; a traditional German Christmas Market, with over 50 separate wooden chalets, offering arts, crafts, presents and foods; numerous cafes and bars serving traditional food and mulled wine; a 50m observation wheel providing a panoramic view of London above the park; a big top presenting Zippo's Circus with a special 45 minute Christmas themed show and a Palace Of Grand Illusion; thrill rides including Power Tower, Rollercoaster, Black Hole and Ice Monster; a Victorian carousel; a helter-skelter; a bungy dome; a selection of gentler amusement rides for younger children; and a bandstand with regular carol concerts and other festive entertainment; plus Father Christmas in his own Santa Land. To add to the atmosphere, the trees along Serpentine Road sparkle with thousands of Christmas lights highlighting the natural beauty of Hyde Park. Entrance to the Winter Wonderland site is free, with fees for individual attractions. Hyde Park, 10am-10pm daily (except Christmas Day) until 3rd January.

The Staffordshire Hoard is an unparalleled treasure find, dating from Anglo-Saxon times, discovered in July this year by a metal detector in south Staffordshire, and subsequently excavated by Birmingham University Archaeology Unit. The Hoard comprises in excess 1,500 individual items, and both the quality and quantity of this unique treasure are remarkable. The quality of the craftsmanship displayed on many items is supreme, indicating possible royal ownership. Stylistically most items appear to date from the 7th century. The find included sword fittings, part of a helmet and three gold Christian crosses. Most of the complete objects are made of gold, others are of silver. Some are decorated with pieces of garnet, a deep red semi-precious stone, others with fine filigree work or patterns made up of animals with interlaced bodies. The entire find contained 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver. It is remarkable for the extraordinary quantity of 87 pommel caps and 71 hilt plates, the highly decorated items that adorned a sword or a seax (a short sword/knife). To find so many together is absolutely unprecedented. This Hoard is perhaps the most important collection of Anglo-Saxon objects ever found in England. It compares and possibly exceeds those objects found at Sutton Hoo in 1939. 18 objects from the Hoard are now on display in this exhibition, while research and interpretation on the other pieces continues. British Museum, continuing.

Nottingham Contemporary is a new £19.4m gallery, designed by the architects Caruso St John, inspired by the surrounding Lace Market, the warehouses that serviced the city's world famous trade in the 19th century. The exterior is fluted concrete in pale green and gold, imprinted with a pattern of lace. It comprises four galleries, lit by 132 skylights, a performance and film space, a learning room, a study, a shop and a cafe/bar.

David Hockney 1960 - 1968: A Marriage Of Styles, the opening exhibition made up of over 60 pieces, offers an opportunity to re-examine David Hockney's work produced in his early years in London and Los Angeles. It is the first that time these paintings, employing a multitude of styles, finishing with the iconic Californian painting 'A Bigger Splash' - possibly his best known work - have been brought together for almost 40 years.

Frances Stark: But what of Frances Stark, standing by itself, a naked name, bare as a ghost to whom one would like to lend a sheet?, the accompanying exhibition, features new and recent work by Frances Stark, one of the artists to have emerged from Los Angeles's art scene in the past 15 years. Stark works in collage, often using text, lifted from a wide range of literary sources, with the American poet Emily Dickinson a particular favourite.

Nottingham Contemporary until 24th January.

Drawing Attention: Tiepolo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso And More is a selection from the collection of some 5,000 master drawing put together over the last couple of decades by the Art Gallery of Ontario. This group of 100 of the best works ranges from Renaissance Italy to 18th century France, from English watercolours to masterpieces by Picasso and Matisse, from German Expressionism to Canada's own Group of Seven and David Milne. The show is a feast of drawings, featuring some of the greatest draftsmen who ever lived, including Carracci, Boucher, Gainsborough, Ingres, Gaugin, Fuseli, Romney, Rowlandson, Samuel Palmer, Burne Jones, Mondrian, Kandinski, Dufy, Turner, Leger, De Kooning, Vanessa Bell, Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock and Canadian Emily Carr. Highlights include Fragonard's 'Charlemagne Leads Angelica Away From Roland', Guercino's 'A Witch, Two Bats, and a Demon in Fligh', Degas's 'Danseuse Vue de Dos, Grande Battement a la Seconde', Delacroix's 'La Fiancee de Lammermoor', Van Gogh's 'The Vicarage at Neunen' and Schiele's 'Portrait of a Girl'. Dulwich Picture Gallery until 27th January.


The Life And Lives Of Dr Johnson celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of the writer, bookseller and compiler of the Dictionary of the English Language with a display of portraits of Johnson and his circle. Paintings, prints and drawings also include portraits of those whose 'lives' Samuel Johnson wrote, such as John Milton and Alexander Pope, alongside his contemporary biographers, and the satirical prints that emerged in response to the race to record his life. Johnson played a significant role in the development of biography, transforming the genre, and raising the status of what was previously considered to be a 'low' form of literature. The display shows how Johnson's appearance was recorded by at least 12 artists, and how his portrait was disseminated widely through the medium of print. He was often depicted with books or writing tools in a tradition for representing authors that goes back to the Ancient Greeks. Also included in the display are portraits of the key people in Johnson's life, including David Garrick, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and Hester Lynch Piozzi. To coincide with the exhibition, Joshua Reynolds's iconic portrait of Johnson is on display after a substantial period in conservation, which has revealed insights into its complex history and painting. Reynolds left it unfinished, and it remained in his studio until he gave it to James Boswell, Johnson's friend and biographer. National Portrait Gallery until 13th December.

The Artist's Studio offers an opportunity to go behind the scenes and explore the studios of some of the most prominent British artists of the last 200 years. Through paintings, photographs, drawings, film, etchings, books, manuscripts and studio furniture, the exhibition explores the changing function and depiction of the artist's studio from the 1700s to the present day, spanning not just Britain, but Renaissance Italy, 17th century Holland, and 19th century France. The exhibition reflects the studio variously as display space, a sociable bohemian living space or garret, and as a private space for reflection and creation. Works by artists including Pieter Tillmans, R P Bonnington, JMW Turner, Thomas Rowlandson, George Morland, Edward Burne-Jones, Lord Leighton, W P Frith, and Ricketts and Shannon, offer personal and theoretical notions of how the studio has been perceived. From the 20th century there are works by Mark Gertler, Jack B Yeates, William Orpen, Gwen John, William Coldstream and Rodrigo Moynihan. Contemporary artists represented include Paula Rego, David Hockney, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst and Lucian Freud. There are photographs, both historical and modern by Bruce Bernard, David Dawson, Antony Snowdon, George Lewinski and Gautier Deblonde, plus a specially commissioned film documenting artists in their studios. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 13th December.

In A Bloomsbury Square: T S Eliot The Publisher explores the ways in which the poet and playwright nurtured and developed some of the most significant writers of the 20th century while, working for the publisher Faber and Faber. In the 1930s and beyond, Eliot used his roles as editor and publisher to promote modernist writing, successfully lending it authority, asserting its significance, and making it both respectable and accessible to a wider public. During this time he worked with, amongst others, James Joyce, W H Auden, Marianne Moore, David Jones, and Ted Hughes. As well as shedding light on the various inter-relationships between Eliot's roles as publisher, editor and author, the exhibition also explores his belief in the wider social and cultural mission of publishing. The display comprises original manuscripts, correspondence, art works and sound recordings, as well as previously unseen material from the Faber archive and the Eliot estate. Exhibits include: a letter from Eliot to Geoffrey Faber from 1936 urging publication of Djuna Barnes's novel Nightwood, (Eliot was the only publisher who did not reject it); Ted Hughes journal entry from 1960, giving his impressions on meeting the luminaries of the first generation Faber poets, including W H Auden, Stephen Spender and Louis MacNeice; and letter from Eliot to his 3 year old godson Tom Faber, including the verse "Invitation to all Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats to come to the Birthday of Thomas Faber", testing out his ideas for what was to become one of his best known works. The British Library until 6th December.