News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th May 2009


Henry VIII: Man And Monarch is an exhibition of Henry VIII's personal documents and books, held as part of celebration of the 500th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Among the highlights are Henry's Coronation oath, with several significant revisions made in his own handwriting; a copy of The Great Bible with a coloured title page, believed to be the king's personal copy; a music manuscript, that includes 20 songs and 13 instrumental pieces ascribed to Henry; an illuminated Psalter used by Henry in his private devotions, containing his handwritten notes; the marriage contract with Katherine of Aragon; a list of people executed during Henry's reign, including wives, favourites and ministers; the rules of a jousting tournament held to celebrate the birth of his son Prince Henry, devised and signed by the king; The Anthony Roll, an illuminated manuscript providing a visual record of all the ships in Henry's navy, interspersed with a list of their seamen and armaments; a love letter from Henry to Anne Boleyn, stolen from Anne to serve as evidence by the Vatican against his divorce; various books that Henry himself chose, read and annotated; and an Inventory of the Henry's assets at the time of his death, including furniture, numerous pictures, great quantities of jewellery, over 2,000 pieces of tapestry (the largest collection on record) and 2,028 pieces of plate, 70 ships, 400 guns and 6,500 handguns in the Tower of London and 2,250 guns in other coastal and border fortresses. The British Library, until 6th September.

Sally Matthews - Denis O'Connor - Light are a series of concurrent outdoor sculpture exhibitions. Sally Matthew's exhibition features a range of animals, including sheep, cows, stags, zebra, wolves and hounds, waiting to be discovered in the undergrowth and hidden spaces, together with a horse welded from old chains on show for the first time. Matthews's sculptures deal with not just what each animal looks like, but its nature, how it moves, how it lives and what it is. Each is anatomically honed, but rendered to heighten the viewer's awareness of particular character traits. Denis O'Connor has made gravity-defying stainless steel constructions, which evoke vertiginous perspectives from which the landscape might appear as simultaneously alarming and thrilling. Precarious composites of tiny houses, looming towers and ladders leading nowhere, they come across as props for some outdoor tragic-comic dreamscape. The highly reflective surfaces of the stainless steel elements heighten their soaring vertiginous qualities. They join O'Connor's permanent installation 'Tower 4', a dry stone conical tower that soars upwards towards several ancient oak trees. There is also a group show, exploring the theme of light, which includes two pieces by Michael Shaw: a floating and breathing sculpture, and a luminous piece that will change colour through the season. Burghley House Gardens & Deer Park, Stamford, until 29th October.

Gallery Of Medieval Europe is a new gallery that places the collection of British, European and Byzantine treasures in their fullest historical context, integrating art with archaeology, covering the period from 1050-1500 AD. Among the highlights are the Royal Gold Cup, made of solid gold and lavishly decorated with translucent enamels; an intricately carved citole, a unique medieval English musical instrument; the Lewis Chessmen, elaborately worked walrus ivory and whales' teeth, in the forms of human figures and obelisks; a shield of parade, decorated with a painting of a lady in courtly dress and a knight kneeling before her; the Dunstable Swan Jewel, a livery badge made of opaque fused white enamel over gold; an icon portraying of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, from Constantinople, believed to have been painted by St Luke, with a life portrait of the Virgin Mary; 1,273 gold coins from the Fishpool hoard; a 2m long double handed Sword of State, with a hilt of gilt brass with enamel and incised decoration; a reliquary of St Eustace, in the form of a head, made of acer wood, covered in silver-gilt plates and decorated with jewels; the tiled pavement from Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire; and intricately carved monastic sculpture from Lewes Priory in East Sussex.British Museum, continuing.


William Blake's 1809 Exhibition is a recreation of the ill fated exhibition held to launch the career of the engraver, visionary poet and painter William Blake. The show was held in the upstairs rooms of his brother's hosiery shop in Golden Square, Soho. Inside were 16 paintings in watercolour and tempera. Visitors were charged two shilling and sixpence, for which they also received a 66 page pamphlet entitled 'A Descriptive Catalogue', in which Blake discussed the pictures and his ambitions as an artist. Blake hoped the exhibition would help him to become a painter of large scale public schemes, what he termed 'the Grand style of art'. However, almost no-one came to the exhibition, and even his friends were baffled by his strange descriptions of his pictures. Only one review appeared at the time, which was brutally dismissive: the poor man fancies himself a great master, and has painted a few wretched pictures, some of which are unintelligible allegory, others an attempt at sober character by caricature representation, and the whole 'blotted and blurred' and very badly drawn. These he calls an Exhibition, of which he has published a Catalogue, or rather a farrago of nonsense, unintelligibleness, and egregious vanity, the wild effusions of a distempered brain. Blake was bitterly disappointed, and became increasingly withdrawn and depressed. Two centuries later, 10 of the surviving pictures are exhibited here, including 'Jacob's Ladder', 'The Soldiers Casting Lots for Christ's Garments', 'Christ in the Sepulchre', and 'The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth', together with a copy of the original Catalogue. The missing works, including a large scale painting of 'The Ancient Britons', are represented by blank spaces. Pictures by other artists exhibited during 1809 are also shown, giving a sense of what was different about Blake's exhibition - and why contemporaries may have found his work so strange and confusing. Tate Britain until 4th October.

Sizergh Castle has just completed a £1.5m restoration programme, repairing the fabric of the building. The major works included pointing removal, chimney rendering, parapet rebuilding, roof insulation and re-leading, and replacement of the cement structure of the tower with traditional lime mortar, to reveal the natural stone building and preserve it from damp. Historic glazing and carved stonemasonry and the front garden steps of the building have also been repaired. A particular complication was that the roof work had to be carried out with disturbing its resident population of bats. With the removal of the covering of Boston Ivy from the outside, and the old cement pointing, features that have not been seen for centuries have been uncovered, including the original doorway into the tower. The castle contains an exceptional series of oak panelled rooms, culminating in the Inlaid Chamber, with portraits, furniture and objet d'art, accumulated over centuries by the Strickland family, by whom it was built in the Middle Ages, and whose descendants still live there today. An exhibition of photographs and videos reveal the skilled traditional craftspersons at work during the 2 year restoration programme. Visitors can also watch the movements of tower's winged residents via a 'bat cam'. Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, Cumbria, continuing.

Madness & Modernity looks at the relationship between mental illness, the visual arts and architecture in Vienna around 1900. The exhibition presents the range of ways madness and art interacted in Vienna, from designs for utopian psychiatric spaces, to the drawings of the patients confined within them. It shows how psychiatry influenced early modernism in the visual arts, and how modernism shaped the lives and images of mentally ill people. Vienna was one of Europe's leading centres for psychiatric innovation around 1900, and there was an overwhelming sense of the Viennese living in 'nervous times'. Anxieties about mental health were allied to anxieties about the modern, capitalist city, with its new technologies, modes of work and play, and speeds of life. The experience of modernity gave a new impetus to the study of madness. The exhibition comprises around 80 exhibits, including the work of artists such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, and leading modernist designers and architects Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner, who sought to create a new kind of environment for the care and confinement of mentally ill people. As well as original paintings, drawings and design objects, the display also includes artworks by asylum patients, therapeutic equipment, architectural models and drawings, and two specially commissioned films by the artist David Bickerstaff. These contrast the buildings of Wagner with the kind of asylums they were designed to replace, taking viewers on a journey through the spaces of Vienna asylums of the 18th and 20th centuries. The Wellcome Collection, London, until 28th June.

Baroque 1620 - 1800: Style In The Age Of Magnificence features the splendour of one of the most opulent styles of the 17th and 18th centuries. The exhibition reflects the complexity and grandeur of the Baroque style, from the Rome of Borromini and Bernini, to the magnificence of Louis XIV's Versailles, and the lavishness of Baroque theatre and performance. On display are some 200 objects, including silver furniture, portraits, sculpture, a regal bed and court tapestries, which conjure up the rooms of a Baroque palace. Further, the exhibition shows how, as European power and influence spread, Baroque style reached other parts of the world. Highlights include: depictions of the Palace of Versailles, including the Hall of Mirrors and designs for the gardens; rare historic furniture made for Louis XIV; religious paintings by Rubens and Tiepolo; sculpture and architectural designs for St Peter's Basilica and the Cornaro Chapel in Rome; stage sets from theatres such as Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, Italian costumes and musical instruments; the original model for James Gibbs's church St Mary-Le-Strand in London; pearls from the vaults of Augustus the Strong in Dresden; costumes from the Swedish Royal court, and candelabrum from the Swedish Royal chapel; and a gilded altarpiece, sculpture, paintings and furniture from Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, the Philippines and India. Victoria & Albert Museum until 19th July.

Assembling Bodies: Art, Science & Imagination aims to challenge pre-conceived notions about the human body, by examining ways that bodies are constructed, known and transformed in various historical, cross-cultural and disciplinary contexts. Presenting insights from anthropology, archaeology, history, classics, bio-medical research and artistic practice, the exhibition brings together an assembly of bodies from different times and places, highlighting multiple definitions of the body, as well as the political implications of the ways that bodies are created and understood. The diverse range of gloriously gristly exhibits embraces: stone tools used by early hominids, classical sculptures, medieval manuscripts, European paintings, medical instruments, ancestral effigies from the Pacific, scientific models, a funerary sculpture that contains and then releases the life force of the deceased, a plaster cast of Aphrodite of Knidos, a depiction of marriage from the earliest European Encyclopedia of the 12th century, Chinese ancestral spirit tablets, a Mongolian household cresta, a Maori child's cloak, Isaac Newton's death mask, 'body maps' of HIV sufferers, a cyborg, and Marc Quinn's 'Genomic Portrait of Professor Sir John Sulston'. All human life - and some. Museum of Archaeology and Anthroplogy, Cambridge, until December 2010.

The Topolsky Century, which recently reopened to the public, is the artist Feliks Topolski's visual record of the personalities and social and political events, of a century that he witnessed and chronicled, during a lifetime spent criss-crossing the five continents. This panoramic diary is a unique cavalcade, pageant and portrait gallery, painted in expressionist style on hardboard panels 20 foot high, which curve snake like 600 feet through the railway arches of Hungerford Bridge, next to the Royal Festival Hall. It is Topolski's pictorial and historical representation, painted over 15 years, from his many hundreds of vivid eyewitness and on the spot drawings and paintings, made during a century of high drama. Topolski donated it to the nation in 1984. There had been a steady deterioration in the condition of the paintings, and it was in urgent need of refurbishment. A £3m programme has seen its restoration and secured its future, and an accompanying interactive project, and the refurbishment of Topolski's nearby original studio as a learning centre, is under way. The Topolski Century, 150-152 Hungerford Bridge, Concert Hall Approach, London, continuing.


Love And Marriage In Renaissance Florence: The Courtauld Wedding Chests explores one of the most important and historically neglected art forms of Renaissance Florence: pairs of great chests, lavishly decorated with precious metals and elaborate paintings. Marriage in 15th century Florence was primarily a dynastic alliance between powerful families, and to celebrate these unions, pairs of ornately decorated chests were commissioned. These items, now called cassoni, were often just part of a whole suite of decorative objects commissioned to celebrate marriage alliances. They were displayed in Florentine palaces and used to store precious items such as clothes and textiles. The painted panels set into the wedding chests tell tales from ancient Greece, Rome and Palestine, as well as from Florentine literature and more recent history. This exhibition is focused around a pair of chests ordered in 1472 by the Florentine Lorenzo Morelli to celebrate his marriage with Vaggia Nerli. These are the only pair of cassoni that can be seen with their painted backboards, and that retain their commissioning documents. They are displayed alongside other examples of chests and panels of the period.

Design Drawings From High Renaissance Italy presents rarely seen Italian 16th century design drawings for furniture, household objects and architectural ornaments. These drawings illustrate the increasing use of classical motifs in High Renaissance designs. They also testify to the increasing professionalism of design in the High Renaissance, when the artist who was commissioned to design an object was often a different person from the craftsman who executed the design.

The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, London, until 17th May.

Van Dyck And Britain reveals the Flemish artist's unique impact on British cultural life, by bringing together some of the most magnificent paintings that van Dyck produced during his years in Britain. Anthony van Dyck became the outstanding painter at the court of art enthusiast Charles I, where he re-invented portrait painting in Britain, bringing more life and realism to his subjects. Working in the period of intense political ferment prior to the Civil War, van Dyck portrayed many of the main protagonists, and his iconic portraits of Charles I have shaped history's view of the Stuart monarchy. Van Dyck's compositions, his use of costume, and his depiction of the rich fabrics of the period, were to influence subsequent generations of British painters. Highlights include royal portraits, such as 'The Great Piece' - Charles I and Henrietta Maria and their two eldest children, 'Charles I on Horseback with M de St Antoine', and Charles II as Prince of Wales in armour; full length portraits, such as Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, and the rarely exhibited late Self Portrait; and friendship portraits, such as Self Portrait with Endymion Porter, and Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport and George, Lord Goring. The exhibition comprises more than 130 exhibits, with around 60 works by van Dyck, together with 'van Dyckian' works by later artists, including Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, John Singer Sargent, and Philip de Laszlo, showing how his influence has endured. Tate Britain until 17th May.

Rodchenko And Popova: Defining Constructivism examines the works of Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova, arguably two of the Russian avant-garde's most influential and important artists. Constructivism embraced the vision of the Russian Revolution, and sought to create new forms of art that would help to bring a new society into being. Rodchenko And Popova were integral to the stylistic and theoretical underpinning of Russian Constructivism, rejecting the idea of 'art for art's sake' in favour of art as a practice directed towards social objectives. With the growth of industry, its practitioners were also influenced by, and used materials from, modern machinery and technology. Constructivists looked upon themselves as engineers and not necessarily artists: they believed they were the engineers of vision. The display of Rodchenko's and Popova's utilitarian works demonstrate the degree to which both artists influenced 20th century fashion, media, theatre, cinema and graphic design. It includes Rodchenko's iconic posters for the cinema, ranging from Eisenstein's renowned Battleship Potemkin to Vertov's iconic One-Sixth Part Of The World. Works from Popova's series of Painterly Architectonics and Spatial-Force Constructions lead up to a room dedicated to the 1921 exhibition entitled 5x5=25, organised by Popova and Rodchenko with their colleagues Aleksandra Ekster, Aleksandr Vesnin and Varvara Stepanova. This features Rodchenko's group of monochromatic canvases, 'Pure Red Colour 1921', 'Pure Yellow Colour 1921', and 'Pure Blue Colour 1921'. Tate Modern until 17th May.