News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th August 2009


Exquisite Bodies provides an insight into a strange and forgotten chapter in medical history, with a spectacular display of anatomical models, which were used not only to teach but also to titillate the public in Victorian Britain and Europe. During the 19th century, museums of anatomical models became popular attractions, and in London, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona, the public could learn about the inner workings of the body through displays that combined serious science with an element of fairground horror. This exhibition enables visitors to reflect on what these models tell us about Victorian attitudes to anatomical knowledge, and issues including sexual reproduction, contagious disease and death, (and also indulge the same dubious fascination with the macabre). A combination of the beautiful and the grotesque, the 50 examples here range from superbly accurate specimens designed for private use teaching in anatomical theatres, to models destined for often illiterate audiences in the less salubrious parts of cities, where displays highlighted the widespread fear of sexually transmitted diseases. Produced during an era of scientific rationalism, these strange surrogates seem on one hand to illustrate contemporary medicine's interest in empirical knowledge, but at the same time, reveal a range of complex beliefs about life, sex, disease and death. By the early 1900s the popularity of these attractions was on the wane. In Britain their contents were labelled obscene and attacked by campaigners intending to expose 'quackery', while in Europe they endured for some time longer, often trading on their reputations as freak shows or 'monster parades'. The Wellcome Collection, London, until 18th October.

Raphael To Renoir: Master Drawings From The Collection Of Jean Bonna is the only showing in Britain of an exceptional selection of 120 European master drawings, watercolours and pastels by many of the greatest names in Western art. They come from the distinguished private collection formed over the past 20 years by Jean Bonna. The exhibition offers the rare opportunity to view outstanding examples of European drawings spanning some 500 years, showing the unbroken line of drawing from the Italian Renaissance to late 19th century France. Central to the discipline of drawing throughout this time was the study of the human figure. The principal strength of the collection lies in the Italian and French schools, including artists such as Raphael, Carpaccio, Andrea del Sarto, Guercino, Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain, Canaletto, Watteau, Fragonard, Goya, Francois Clouet, Parmigianino, Federico Barocci, Boucher, Jacopo Vignali, and, from the 19th century, Ingres, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Seurat and Redon. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 6th September.

Cosmos & Culture: How Astronomy Has Shaped Our World traces 400 years of telescope technologies, explores the changing perceptions of man's place in the cosmos, and examines the role astronomy has played in our everyday lives. It provides in depth opportunities for visitors to see how different instruments work, and discover the stories of the people who made and used them, through actual artefacts, models, illustrations and photographs. Among the highlights are Thomas Harriot's 17th century maps of the Moon, Jupiter's satellites and sunspots; the 7ft telescope William Herschel used to discover Uranus from his back garden in 1781; a letter written by George III to Herschel, accompanying his £200 in annual salary as King's Astronomer; a model of an astrological clock from Hampton Court Palace; the largest telescope ever constructed in Britain, built to study X-rays from high-energy cosmic events; a 1543 first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus's book offering scholars a new vision of the cosmos, with the Sun rather than the Earth the centre of the universe; DRIFT I, a joint UK/US detector, seeking the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the universe; a Zeiss planetarium projector, built to train German pilots in the Second World War, and later used in the museum's planetarium; a prototype part for the latest Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, one of the most sensitive experiments ever designed; and a typically British amateur telescope made of bean cans, car parts and coat hangers. The Science Museum, continuing.


Keats House, where the poet John Keats was living when he composed some of his best known poems, including Ode to a Nightingale, has reopened after a £500,000 restoration project, designed to reflect its appearance during his lifetime. Among the works carried out were: the redecoration of all the rooms, based on the analysis of surviving paint and wallpaper and expert advice on Regency interior design; the opening up of the first floor landing revealing the original paneling; the restoration and opening of a small dining room in the basement; the conservation of the oil paintings; the installation of new display cases, which enable more small items to be seen, some of which have never been on display before; the repainting of outside of the house with lime wash, as used on the house in the early 19th century; and the redesign of the garden in a more original form. Keats House, or Wentworth Place as it was originally known, was built in 1814 as two semi-detached houses. John Keats came to live the smaller, eastern side in 1818. After his death, the actress Eliza Jane Chester, who already owned the larger part of the property, bought Keats's house, knocked through the walls to create a single dwelling, and added the drawing room at the eastern end. The house is now home to a collection of books, letters, paintings, prints and artefacts, owned by, and relating to Keats, including two portraits of Keats painted by his friend Joseph Severn, a gilt bust produced after his death, the engagement ring that he gave to Fanny Brawne, and a lock of her hair in a frame. Keats House, Keats Grove, Hampstead, continuing.

Edvard Munch: Prints is the most substantial display of prints by the Norwegian painter to be exhibited in Britain in a generation. Featuring 40 of the finest prints from throughout Edvard Munch's career, the works have been specially chosen to illustrate his development as a graphic artist, as well as the important themes of his art. Munch responded early to Impressionism, and developed an individual and highly influential focus on the internal workings of the human mind. His great images - most famously 'The Scream' - treat the psychological traumas that were being described for the first time by his contemporary Sigmund Freud. Munch's international success was in large part due to his prints. Among the highlights, in addition to 'The Scream', are 'The Sick Child', with which he first aroused international attention; the woodcut 'Woman's Head against the Shore'; the controversial lithograph 'Madonna'; the atmospheric woodcut 'Melancholy'; the striking 'Self-portrait' lithograph; the woodcut 'The Girls on the Bridge'; the lithograph 'Separation II'; the late woodcut 'Moonlight by the Sea'; 'the lithograph Vampire'; and 'Ashes', from his 'Frieze of Life', which has sections devoted to love, anxiety and death. Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, until 5th September.

Samuel Johnson And London follows the bookseller, poet, compiler of the Dictionary of the English Language, and coiner of the aphorism "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life", his friends and collaborators around the 18th century city, and looks at the many facets of his varied literary career and legacy. Among the original books, letters and artefacts on display are: a copy of A Dictionary of the English language; Johnson's poem 'London'; a copy of 'Logick' by Isaac Watts, showing Johnson at work; Hester Lynch Piozzi's, 'letters to & from the late Samuel Johnson'; accounts kept by the printer William Strahan, regarding the dictionary; a copy of Thomas Rowlandson's 'Picturesque Beauties of Boswell'; a letter from Johnson to the King's librarian; an Invitation from John Wilkes to Johnson; an 'Ode by Dr Johnson to Mrs Thrale upon their supposed …. Nuptials'; a copy of 'The Beauties of Johnson'; a list of members of 'The Club'; a copy of James Boswell's 'The Life of Samuel Johnson'; corrected proofs of Johnson's 'Preface on Dryden'; Boswell's letter to Johnson's friend Bennet Langton; and a ticket for Johnson's funeral. The British Library until 30th September.

Corot To Monet charts the development of open air landscape painting in the century up to the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. The display features some 90 small scale paintings by the major artists of this genre, revealing the achievements of these early plein-air painters, and their far reaching influence on the Impressionists, as they began exploring new techniques. The exhibition opens with scenes by Jean-Bapiste-Camille Corot, Simon Denis and Pierre Henri Valenciennes, who were among artists that gathered in Rome in the 18th and 19th centuries, setting out to paint picturesque locations in the Campagna outside the city. The major part of the show focuses on the work of the Barbizon School, demonstrating how painters such as Theodore Rousseau, Jean Francois Millet and Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Pena captured their native scenery to great effect. Highlights include Corot's 'The Roman Campagna, with the Claudian Aqueduct', capturing a broad, sunlit landscape hung with majestic clouds in a single layer of paint, and 'The Four Times of the Day', a quartet of panels, completed in just a week at the studio of Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, drawn from reminiscences of the Italian terrain; Rousseau's 'The Valley of Saint-Vincent', evoking the wild, unspoilt nature of the Auvergne with long, fluid brushstrokes; Richard Parkes Bonington's 'La Ferte', realising the sand, sea and sky of the Picardy coastline with broad sweeps of his brush; Diaz de la Pena's 'Sunny Days in the Forest' a lively celebration of spring skies and rich foliage; and Monet's 'The Beach at Trouville' displayed alongside the beach scenes of Eugene Boudin and late works by Corot. National Gallery until 20th September.

Project Apollo: The Lunar Landings marks the 40th anniversary of mankind's greatest technical achievement, that of landing a man on the moon on 20th July 1969, and returning him safely to earth. The exhibition takes place at the top of the National Space Centre's iconic 42m Rocket Tower, and is a multiple experience immersion in the 1960s, setting the event in the context of its time, with original film footage, artefacts and memorabilia of the era. Visitors are transported back in time with the sights and sounds of the 60s, and experience what it would have been like to be part of the world community watching the first moon landing, in a recreated 1969 living room; have the opportunity to land the lunar module themselves in a new simulator; get close to a genuine piece of moon rock bought back by the Apollo astronauts; see Britain's largest exhibition of Lego model spacecraft; and even have their picture taken 'on the surface of the moon'. The permanent display includes in six galleries, exploring different aspects of astronomy and space exploration, featuring over 150 actual and replica rockets, satellites and capsules, plus a space theatre, showing animated journeys across space using the latest multimedia techniques. National Space Centre, Leicester, continuing.

The Highgrove Florilegium is an exhibition of watercolours by 75 leading botanical artists from around the world, who have painted the flora growing in the garden of The Prince of Wales. Distinguished botanists worked with the Head Gardener at Highgrove, to ensure that the 15 acre estate is represented in all its aspects by an appropriate selection of material, including plants that are useful or commonplace, rare and in decline, or just extravagantly beautiful. Some of the best contemporary botanical artists are represented in the exhibition, including Fay Ballard, Stephanie Berni, Josephine Hague, Katherine Manisco, Kate Nessler, Jenny Phillips, Kay Rees-Davies, Janet Rieck, Elaine Searle and Amanda Ward. Work was submitted for selection to a panel of experts led by Anne-Marie Evans, and the resulting collection shows a complete cross section, from trees and flowers, to vegetables and herbs. While botanical illustration can be traced back to herbals in the 6th century AD, the growing popularity of gardening, and awareness of plant forms and habitat, has led to a renewal of interest in botanical painting, and a new 'Golden Age' of botanical art. The exhibition is in partnership with The Prince's Charities Foundation, which is publishing 175 sets of the Florilegium. Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace Road, London, until 8th September.


Garden And Cosmos: The Royal Paintings Of Jodhpur is an opportunity to view a unique type of Indian royal court painting from the 17th to 19th centuries. The exhibition features 56 paintings from the royal collection at the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur, none of which has ever previously been seen in Europe. It explores the two distinct styles of painting that flourished over the period, 'Garden', the ornate style depicting the temporal pleasures of courtly life and the verdant forests where scenes from the great Indian epics took place, and 'Cosmos', the metaphysical paintings concerned with philosophical speculation and the origin of the universe. The paintings were created for the personal pleasure of the maharajas who ruled over north western India, and as such, they represent the varying aesthetic tastes and differing political and spiritual views of three generations at the Jodhpur court. During this period, the region produced a distinctive and inventive painting style, which brought together traditional Rajasthani styles and combined them with styles developed in the imperial court of the Mughals. Thus, the paintings range from glorious gardens in desert palaces to opulent images of cosmic origins, depicting the political, cultural and spiritual vitality of Jodhpur and indicating the sophisticated way in which artists conveyed profound spiritual conceptions. The paintings included in the exhibition range from a handful of miniatures to monumental artworks depicting the palaces, wives and families of the Jodhpur rulers. British Museum until 23rd August.

Dazzling The Enemy: Shields From The Pacific explores conflict and social life in the islands of the western Pacific, through the use of shields as a form of psychological warfare and in ritual. In the western Pacific, these shields are not camouflaged to hide the carrier from the enemy, rather they are decorated with bold and dazzling designs intended to intimidate opponents. Shield designs may declare the status of the carrier, his strength as a warrior, or the spiritual resources he has supporting him. They also protect him from attack from sling stones, spears, arrows and clubs. On display are over 40 shields from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and West Papua. Included is one of the oldest Pacific shields in the world, dating back to 1851, as well as contemporary shields collected in the 1980s. Made variously of wood, split cane and metal, they are decorated with paint, feathers, shell, dyed rattan and beads, in traditional geometric patterns, and animal and human shapes. Many of these shields have never been displayed in Europe before. Historical and contemporary photographs illustrating the shields in action are also included in the display. British Museum until 16th 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 1,200 works covering paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architectural designs and models have been selected from around 10,000 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 Ann Christopher, Eileen Cooper and Will Alsop, with the theme Making Space. Highlights include a gallery of film curated by Richard Wilson, which includes his own site specific installation; an architecture gallery with projects by Zaha Hadid, Eric Parry, Norman Fostwer and Piers Gough; and Bryan Kneale's 'Triton III' stainless steel sculpture of concave and convex forms in the courtyard. There is also a memorial gallery dedicated to showing the works of the late Jean Cooke, featuring some of her key paintings, including 'Jamais je ne pleure et jamais je ne ris'. The Royal Academy of Arts until 16th August.