Private View held by Richard Andrews
Secrets Of The Royal Bed Chamber allows visitors to explore the elaborate, sometimes bizarre bedchamber rituals, unusual sleeping arrangements and uxurious excesses of the Stuart and Hanoverian courts. The exhibition reveals what really took place in the royal bedchamber, where heirs were born, marriages consummated, monarchs were struck down and died, and important affairs of state were conducted. The monarch would meet courtiers and ministers during an elaborate morning ceremony, during which the most privileged of his servants, woke, washed and dressed the King before the business of the day began. Courtiers fought for the illustrious and intimate positions to serve the bedchamber to get close to the monarch, such as the 'groom of the stool' or the 'necessary woman'. The state bedchamber became the most sought after room in the palace for the rich and the powerful, where privileged access brought honour or the king's favour. Now, for the first time, 6 examples from the world's largest and rarest collection of early state beds are presented in a display that tells the story of how and why the bedchamber became the most public and important destination in the Palace. Each bed has a dramatic, and often poignant, tale to tell. Queen Anne's magnificent velvet state bed was ordered by a dying queen in her final year, childless after many sad losses, and facing the prospect of her dynasty ending with her death. The infamous 'Warming Pan Bed', the state bed of James II's Queen, Mary of Modena, was the scene of the royal birth that sparked the quiet revolution that led to the end of the Stuart line. The unique 'travelling bed' of George II, which comes apart into 54 pieces, journeyed as far afield as his second home in Hanover and even the battlefields of Europe. The exhibition also offers a chance to view architect John Vanbrugh's Prince of Wales's Apartments, opened for the first time in 20 years. Hampton Court Palace until 3rd November.
Xu Bing: Landscape Landscript is the first exhibition devoted to the landscapes of the contemporary Chinese artist. Xu Bing's international success rests on his ability to embed complex ideas about art and culture within accessible and playful works that engage the audience. The work that brought Xu Bing initial popular recognition, 'Tianshu or Book from the Sky', a four-volume, stitch-bound book, in the style of classical texts, is filled with what appear to be Chinese characters, but is, in fact, composed in a script invented by him, printed with over 4000 hand carved woodblock characters that have no intelligible meaning. 'Book from the Ground', which exists as a website, an installation, a computer programme, and a printed book, is, conversely, a writing system that can be understood by anyone from any culture, literate or not. Drawing on glyphs or what Xu Bing calls 'pictograms' developed in a variety of contexts over the past half century, from airport signage to international brand logos and 'emoticons', the work tells the story of a day in the life of an ordinary man. Central to all Xu Bing's art is the theme of language: its uses and changes, misunderstandings, and dialogues within and between cultures. His 'Landscript' series uses Chinese characters for landscape features to compose paintings that have the appearance of traditional Chinese landscapes. In this way, characters for 'stone' make up an image of rocks; the character for 'tree' makes up trees; and 'grass' for grass and so on. Xu Bing has produced 4 new pieces for this exhibition, which are displayed alongside his early landscape sketches and prints, and more recent works that depart from traditional landscape styles. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 19th May.
Looking At The View examines how British artists across the centuries have depicted the landscape around them in a multitude of ways, from detailed close ups of nature to distant views framed by trees or soaring bird's-eye perspectives. The exhibition of over 70 works by 50 artists reveals that apparently unconnected artists have looked at the landscape in surprisingly similar ways. It spans 300 years of British art from the golden age of Romantic landscape painting through to Land Art and contemporary artists' use of photography and film. The display groups artists from different periods according to a common motif, whether a horizon line or a winding path. By juxtaposing work across time it highlights unexpected affinities between works by artists as various as Lucian Freud and Victorian agricultural painter Thomas Weaver or contemporary artist film-maker Tacita Dean and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Brett. The exhibition offers an insight into the ways artists compose images, orientate the viewer and lead the eye. Richard Long's photograph of a path trodden through a field guides the viewer's gaze much like Romantic painter John Crome's painting of Norwich in 1818. Tracey Emin's photograph of herself in a wild landscape casually reading in an armchair echoes the ease with which Joseph Wright of Derby's sitter lounges among the foliage in a painting of 1781. Thus shared visual languages that transcend different periods, movements and media are revealed. Pairings of historical and contemporary art works in the display sometimes highlight changing social or political conditions. An idyllic painting by Sir William Nicholson from 1917 of a patchwork of English fields from on high at first resonates with contemporary artist Carol Rhodes's aerial view until the the urbanisation in the later work becomes apparent. Tate Britain until 2nd June.
Life And Death In Pompeii And Herculaneum looks at the Roman home and the people who lived in these ill-fated cities. Pompeii and Herculaneum, on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, were buried by a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in just 24 hours in AD 79. This event ended the life of the cities but at the same time preserved them until rediscovery by archaeologists nearly 1700 years later, and their excavation has provided unparalleled insight into Roman life. This exhibition brings together over 250 objects, embracing both recent discoveries and celebrated finds from earlier excavations, many of which have never before been seen outside Italy. Owing to their different locations the two cities were buried in different ways and this has affected the preservation of materials at each site. Herculaneum was a small seaside town whereas Pompeii was the industrial hub of the region. The exhibition explores the lives of individuals in Roman society, not emperors, gladiators and legionaries, but businessmen, powerful women, freed slaves and children. Among the highlights are a wall painting from Pompeii showing the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, holding writing materials showing they are literate and cultured, plus loaves of bread that were baking in an oven; pieces of wooden furniture that were carbonised by the high temperatures of the ash that engulfed the city, including a linen chest, an inlaid stool, a garden bench and a baby's crib that still rocks on its curved runners; and plaster casts of victims, including a family of 2 adults and their 2 children, huddled together, just as in their last moments under the stairs of their villa, and a dog, fixed forever at the moment of its death as the volcano submerged the city. British Museum until 29th September.
Heaven Is A Home: The Story Of The Brontes' Parsonage is the first exhibition to take place after a £60,000 restoration scheme, following an extensive programme of decorative archaeology. The main rooms have been redecorated and furnished to provide a more authentic picture of how they would have been when the Bronte family lived there in the mid 19th century, and are filled with artefacts and documents relating to the famous literary family. The exhibition tells the stories of all those who lived at the Parsonage both before and after the Brontes, as well as giving fascinating domestic details of the Brontes' own time at the house. Built in 1778, the Parsonage was home to clergymen and their families both before and after the Reverend Patrick Bronte's incumbency. From the Brontes' time living in the house there are letters, sketches and documents, detailing how the house was organised and decorated, what kind of lighting and heating they used, and what housework they did. Since 1928 the house has been a museum, but the building's secret life, includes Second World War soldiers billeted next door in the Old Schoolroom, and generations of curators and their families living on the premises until the 1970s. The Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth, exhibition until December.
George Bellows: Modern American Life is the first retrospective of works by the American realist painter to be held in Britain. George Bellows's fascination with New York's gritty urban landscape, its technological marvels and the diversity of its inhabitants, made him both an artist of the modern city and an insightful observer of the dynamic and challenging decades of the early 20th century. Bellows's career encompassed a range of subject matter and the exhibition explores the principle themes of his work, featuring boxing fights, cityscapes, views of the Hudson River, social scenes, seascapes, portraits and the First World War, in 71 paintings, drawings and lithographs. Bellows was a lifelong sportsman and his most celebrated work 'Stag at Sharkey's', depicts a prize fight at Tom Sharkey's Athletic Club, a bar located directly across the street from his studio, and a theme revisited with 'Dempsey and Firpo'. He was especially drawn to Manhattan's Lower East Side, finding subject matter in the chaotic scenes of downtown New York, where immigrants lived within the crowded tenement buildings captured in 'Forty-two Kids', depicting children bathing in the polluted waters of the East River. Cityscapes include 'New York, 1911', 'Men of the Docks', and 'Pennsylvania Excavation' depicting the excavations of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Royal Academy of Arts until 9th June.
Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art Of Friendship celebrates the relationship of the canon of Seville Cathedral and the Spanish Baroque painter. Don Justino de Neve was a friend and patron of painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo, and his commissions made a significant contribution to Murillo's body of work. This exhibition brings together over 30 paintings documenting their relationship. To provide a suitable setting, a section of the gallery's enfilade has been transformed into an evocation of a 17th century Sevillian church. Three large lunettes are hung at height, with 'The Immaculate Conception of the Venerables Sacerdotes' forming the high altarpiece, the first time that it has been reunited with its striking altar-frame in Britain. The display includes 'The Baptism of Christ', 'The Infant Saint John the Baptist with the Lamb', 'The Penetent Saint Peter', 'Three Boys', 'Invitation to a Game of Argolla', a self portrait, and a portrait of Justino de Neve. Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 19th May.
Murillo: Painting Of The Spanish Golden Age is an accompanying exhibition comprising works by Bartolome Esteban Murillo and his workshop and associates, Francisco Meneses Osorio and Juan Simon Gutierrez. Highlights include Murillo's 'The Marriage of the Virgin', 'The Adoration of the Shepherds', 'Joseph and his Bretheren' and 'Rest on the Flight into Egypt'. The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1, until 12th May.
R B Kitaj: Obsessions - Analyst For Our Time is a retrospective of the American born, London resident, artist who created work with strong autobiographical elements exploring some of the central questions of the 20th century. During the 1960s R B Kitaj, together with his friends Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud, were instrumental in pioneering a new, figurative art that defied the trend in abstraction and conceptualism. From the mid 1970s, Kitaj began to position himself explicitly as a Jewish artist coupled with his study of role models such as Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, and Walter Benjamin. Confronting the history of the Holocaust, and reflecting on his identity as an outsider, he created a Jewish modern art, which he termed 'diasporic', with a rich palate of colour and enigmatic, recurring motifs. The exhibition comprises over 50 major paintings, sketches and prints presenting an overview of all periods of Kitaj's work from the 1960s to his death in 2007. It considers Kitaj's early presentations of a fragmented world, reflecting his interest in art history and intellectuals, and his paintings and collages addressing issues of European politics, philosophy and literature such as 'The Murder of Rosa Luxembourg' and 'The Rise of Fascism'. Also included are portraits of personal friends and figures he admired, such as his portrait of David Hockney, 'The Neo-Cubist', and fictional characters from literature such as 'The Arabist'. His fascination with the relationship between the body, sexuality and history is reflected in a series of powerful paintings of bathers including 'Self-Portrait as a Woman' and 'The Sensualist'. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 16th June.
The Micrarium: A Place For Tiny Things provides a unique opportunity to explore microscopic specimens. It's often said that 95% of known animal species are smaller than a human thumb, yet most museums fill their displays with big animals. The aim of Micrarium is to right this wrong, and it does so in a spectacular way. An old storeroom has been converted into a walk in light box - a back-lit cave, lined wall-to-wall with over 2,000 microscope slides. These show miniscule specimens, such as beetles sliced along their entire length - through head, legs, body, even antennae; the legs of fleas showing the muscles, strangely arranged on the slide to be reminiscent of the coat of arms of the Isle of Man; and a whole squid, just a couple of millimetres long. In addition, there are tiny pieces of giant animals, including whales, mammoths and giraffes. The specimens are infused with the vivid colours of biological stains and annotated with handwritten labels, exemplifying their creator's meticulous documentation of exploration and discovery. Museums very rarely put objects like this on display to the public, and this is an experiment in finding an aesthetic way of doing so. Grant Museum of Zoology, Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street, London WC1, continuing.
Manet: Portraying Life is the first major exhibition in Britain to showcase portraiture by the pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. The exhibition examines the relationship between Edouard Manet's portrait painting and his scenes of modern life. By translating portrait sitters into actors in his genre paintings, Manet guaranteed the authenticity of the figures that populate his scenes of contemporary life, and asserted a new, more potent relationship between Realism and Modernity. The exhibition is arranged thematically, exploring Manet's world and the landscape of 19th century Parisian society, including The Artist And His Family, through Manet, Suzanne Leenhoff Manet and Leon Koella Leenhoff; Manet And His Artist Friends, such as Berthe Morisot, Eva Gonzales and Claude Monet; Manet And His Literary And Theatrical Friends, including Emile Zola, Zacharie Astruc, Theodore Duret, George Moore, Stephane Mallarme and Fanny Clauss; Status Portraits, such as Georges Clemenceau, Henri Rochefort and Antonin Proust: and The Artist And His Models, which encompasses both female friends such as Mery Laurent and Isabelle Lemonnier, and professional models, such as Victorine Meurent. The display comprises over 50 paintings, spanning Manet's entire career, together with a selection of pastels and contemporary photographs. Highlights include 'The Luncheon', 'Mme Manet in the Conservatory', 'Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets', 'Street Singer', 'Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe', 'The Railway', 'The Artist: Portrait of Marcellin Desboutin', and 'Music in the Tuileries Gardens'. Royal Academy of Arts until 14th April.
Doctors, Dissection And Resurrection Men explores the extreme lengths to which 19th century medical pioneers were prepared to go to increase anatomical understanding. Victorian surgeons faced a torturous dilemma: learn their skills on stolen corpses or practice on a living patient - and so began a gruesome trade. Body-snatchers, or 'resurrection men', stalked the city's graveyards to supply fresh corpses for medical dissection. In 2006, archaeologists excavated a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, revealing some 262 burials. Amid the confusing mix of bones was extensive evidence of dissection, autopsy, amputation, bones wired for teaching, and animals dissected for comparative anatomy. Dating from the period of the Anatomy Act of 1832, the discovery offered fresh insight into early 19th century dissection and the trade in dead bodies. Passed amid deep public fear following a notorious case of murder for dissection, this fiercely-debated Act gave the State the right to take 'unclaimed' bodies without consent, and remained almost entirely unchanged until the Human Tissue Act of 2004. Bringing together human and animal remains, exquisite anatomical models and drawings, documents and original artefacts, this exhibition reveals the shadowy practices prompted by a growing demand for corpses. Amongst others, it tells the story of grave robbers Bishop, Williams and May - London's Burke and Hare - and sheds new light on the case of an alleged 'resurrectionist', who died in prison while his wife protested his innocence. The exhibition also includes unrivalled evidence of surgery and amputation - before anaesthetic - and of dissection, anatomical teaching and students practising their craft. Museum of London until 14th April.
Northern Renaissance: Durer To Holbein celebrates the Renaissance in northern Europe, the counterpart to the revolution in art and scholarship that took place in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. While monarchs vied for territorial power, reformers questioned the central tenets of Christian faith, and scholars sought greater understanding of their world. At the heart of this new thinking was the challenge to the teachings of the Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther. Artists responded by turning from emotive devotional subject matter to portraiture and mythology, producing works of ingenuity, beauty and superb technical skill. The exhibition comprises over 130 paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts, miniatures and sculptures. Among the highlights are Durer's 'The Apocalypse: The Four Horsemen', 'The Prodigal Son', 'Pupila Augusta', 'A Knight, Death and the Devil', 'St Jerome in his Study', 'Burkhard of Speyer' and 'Desiderius Erasmus'; Leonardo da Vinci's 'A masquerader as a Lansquenet'; Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 'Massacre of the Innocents'; Jan Gossaert's 'Adam and Eve'; Lucas Cranach the Elder's 'Apollo and Diana'; Hans Holbein the Younger's 'Noli me Tangere', the preparatory pencil drawing for and painting 'Sir Henry Guildford', 'Sir Richard Southwell' and 'Derich Born'; and Francois Clouet's 'Mary, Queen of Scots'. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 14th April.