Private View held by Richard Andrews
Elizabeth I & Her People explores the achievements of the Elizabethan period through portraits of the queen, nobility and rising middle classes. The exhibition includes not only some of the most important and visually impressive portraits of Elizabeth I and her courtiers, but also intriguing lesser-known images of Elizabethan merchants, lawyers, goldsmiths, butchers, calligraphers, playwrights and artists, all of whom contributed to the making of a nation and a new world power. The display comprises over 100 exhibits, including not only paintings, but costumes, crafts, coins, jewellery, manuscripts and accessories ranging from diamond and ruby rings to a frog-shaped purse. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I, which spanned over 40 years, was a time of economic stability, with outstanding successes in the fields of maritime exploration and defence. The period also saw a huge expansion in trade, the creation of new industries, a rise in social mobility, urbanisation and the development of an extraordinary literary culture. The display shows how members of a growing wealthy middle class sought to have their likenesses captured for posterity as the mid-16th century interest in portraiture broadened. Portraits of courtiers such as William Cecil, Christopher Hatton, Bess of Hardwick and Elizabeth Vernon are joined by explorers such as Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher, ambassadors such as Abd el-Quahed ben Messaoud, financiers such as Thomas Gresham and poets including John Donne. The exhibition tells the stories of those individuals whose achievements brought about these changes in the context of an emerging national identity, as well as giving a glimpse into their way of life through accessories and artefacts. It also shows how this was a period in which appearance was made more self-conscious, with calls for the enforcement of sumptuary laws that attempted to determine what was appropriate to be worn by people of different stations. National Portrait Gallery until 5th January.
A Highland Romance explores how ideas of Scotland and Scottishness have changed over the last two centuries. The exhibition asks if Victorian stereotypes of Scotland - desolate snowscapes, dramatic stag hunts, castle ruins, tartan cloth and highland cattle - are enduring, and if they were ever a fair representation of the nation. 19th century paintings and works on paper by leading Scottish artists, such as such as Joseph Farquharson and John MacWhirter, are on show alongside depictions of Scotland by artists from England, including John Everett Millais and Edwin Landseer. Dating from about 1830 to 1904, highlights include 'A Spate in the Highlands' by Peter Graham, 'Linlithgow Palace' by JMW Turner, 'Portrait of Sir Alexander Keith' by David Wilkie, 'The Chase' by Richard Ansdell, 'Arran (Across Kilbrannen Sound)' by Henry Moore, 'The Sun Had Closed the Winter Day' by Joseph Farquharson, 'Craigmillar Castle' by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston, and 'Sir Piercie Shafton and Mysie Happer' by Henry Liverseege, depicting a scene from a novel by Sir Walter Scott, plus a rare printed textile based on a David Wilkie painting. In addition, there are the contemporary works 'Some Like it Hot' by David Mach's and 'In Revolution Politics Becomes Nature' by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The exhibition examines how ideas of Scottishness have changed (or not), what it means to be Scottish, and what Scotland means to the United Kingdom as a nation. Manchester Art Gallery until September.
Paul Klee: Making Visible features the work of one of the most renowned artists to work at the Bauhaus, who was both a playful and a radical figure in European Modernism. This exhibition of Paul Klee's intense and intricate work challenges his reputation as a solitary dreamer, revealing the innovation and rigour with which he created his work and presented it to the public. Bringing together over 130 colourful drawings, watercolours and paintings it spans the three decades of Klee's career, from his emergence in Munich in the 1910s, through his years of teaching at the Bauhaus in the 1920s, up to his final paintings made in Bern. The exhibition begins with Klee's breakthrough during the First World War, when he first developed his individual abstract patchworks of colour. The many technical innovations that followed are showcased throughout the exhibition, including his unique 'oil transfer' paintings like 'They're Biting', the dynamic colour gradations of 'Suspended Fruit' and the multicoloured pointillism used in 'Memory of a Bird'. The heart of the exhibition focuses on the decade Klee spent teaching and working at the Bauhaus. The abstract canvases he produced here, such as the rhythmical composition 'Fire in the Evening', took his reputation to new international heights by the end of the 1920s. The 1930s then brought about radical changes, as Klee was dismissed from his new teaching position by the Nazis and took refuge in Switzerland, while his works were removed from collections and labelled 'degenerate art' in Germany. Despite the political turmoil, financial insecurity and his declining health, he nevertheless became even more prolific, and the exhibition brings together a group of his final works from the last exhibition. Although he saw his art as a process of spontaneous creativity and natural growth, exemplified by his famous description of drawing as "taking a line for a walk", Klee actually worked with great rigour. Tate Modern until 9th March.
Nelson, Navy, Nation is a new permanent gallery looking at how the Royal Navy shaped individual lives and the course of British history during the 18th century, a period when the Navy became a greater focus of public life than ever before and sea-faring heroes were national celebrities. From the bustling dockyards that were the greatest industrial enterprises of the age, to the ferocious sea battles where so many made the ultimate sacrifice, the display looks at every aspect of the naval story. Covering the period between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the gallery explores the Navy's impact upon ordinary people, and also features an unrivalled collection relating to Admiral Lord Nelson, placing this legendary figure within a broader historical context. It looks at Nelson's rise to fame, his sudden death and the personal and national grief that was left in his wake. Poignant objects on display include the last letter Nelson wrote to his daughter Horatia, and one of the mourning rings worn by close friends and family at his funeral. Weird and wonderful commemorative items that demonstrate the 'Nelson mania' that gripped the British people can also be seen, from a Battle of the Nile themed bulb planter to toy bricks showing scenes from Nelson's funeral procession. Altogether there are over 250 objects, including exceptional works of art such as Devis's 'Death of Nelson' and William Hogarth's 'Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin', as well as little known treasures like Gabriel Bray's shipboard watercolours, and iconic items such as Nelson's uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar. Taking in sailors as well as Admirals, landlubbers as well as seadogs, women as well as men and ordinary life as well as the heat of battle, the display tells the story of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, and in doing so tells the story of how British people saw themselves, and their place in the world. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, continuing.
The Night Of Longing: Love And Desire In Japanese Prints is an exhibition of woodcuts and books of the Edo and Meiji periods depicting lovers from literature and life. The exhibition explores how love and desire were presented and accepted in Japanese art during these eras, between 1600 and 1900, through a selection of 40 prints and books by some of the most famous artists of the time, including Harunobu, Utamaro, Hokusai, Hiroshige, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi and Yoshitoshi. The prints range from chaste expressions of longing, such as a lover writing a poem or letter, through to prints of lovers during their most intimate moments. In one print a courtesan is writing the words 'a night of longing' on a scroll as she awaits her lover. Her poetic imagery suggests a more complex yearning that embraces love and the consequences of love, rather than simply desire and its gratification. It is this complex world of emotion, touched by poetic sentiment and shared across centuries, which provides the theme for the display. Images range from lovers yearning for absent partners and expressing their longing in letters and poems; through dramatic scenes of thwarted or desperate lovers, sometimes on the verge of suicide; and 'risque prints' (abuna-e), with suggestions of eroticism or hints that sex is near at hand, through to more explicit images of sexual partners (shunga or 'spring pictures') and their contexts in erotic books; assignations in and around Edo (Tokyo) and the route to the pleasure quarter at night. The display is designed to complement the current Shunga: Sex And Pleasure In Japanese Art exhibition at the British Museum. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 12th January.
Daumier: Visions Of Paris is the first major exhibition of the prolific French artist and social commentator to be held in Britain for over 50 years. Admired by the avant-garde circles of 19th century France, Honore Daumier was described by Baudelaire as one of the most important men 'in the whole of modern art'. The exhibition explores Daumier's legacy through 130 works, including paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculptures. Daumier lived and worked through widespread political and social change in France, which encompassed the upheavals of the revolutions to establish a republic, in the face of continued support for the monarchy. The exhibition is displayed chronologically, spanning the breadth and variety of his often experimental artistic output and exploring themes of judgement, spectatorship and reverie. One of Daumier's favourite subjects became the silent contemplation of art, as seen in 'The Print Collector' and in the terrified performer alone on the stage in 'What A Frightful Spectacle'. His extraordinary visual memory allowed him to recall and portray many facets of everyday life in both sympathetic and critical observations. The display features works depicting his working class neighbours on the Quai d'Anjou on the Ile Saint-Louis, as well as topical issues such as fugitives of the cholera epidemics or the experience of travellers in 'A Third Class Carriage'. Daumier also drew parallels between the abuse of power by lawyers in 'The Defence' and the silent vulnerability of those on the margin in 'Clown Playing A Drum'. A staunch Republican, Daumier was particularly renowned for his daring and uncompromising caricatures of the manners and pretensions of his era, including the corruption of the government of Louis-Philippe, the King of France. At the end of his life he created scenes and allegories of the link between nationalism and military action: the ideal female figures of France and Liberty, contrasted with the jester or Don Quixote, two characters Daumier closely identified with. Royal Academy of Arts until 26th January.
Beyond El Dorado: Power And Gold In Ancient Colombia looks at the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia, a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700. In ancient Colombia gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition features over 300 exquisite objects drawn from one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects in the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures' spiritual lives, including engagement with animal spirits, though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment. The exhibition explores the sophisticated gold working techniques, and the technical skills achieved both in the casting and hammering techniques of metals by ancient Colombian artists. Objects include painted Muisca textile and one of the few San Agustín stone sculptures held outside Colombia. Those, together with spectacular large scale gold masks and other materials were part of the objects that accompanied funerary rituals in ancient Colombia. British Museum until 23rd March.
The Drawings Of Edward Burne-Jones: A Pre-Raphaelite Master is an exploration of the method and skills behind some of the best known works of one of the most significant British artists of the 19th century. This exhibition explores Edward Burne-Jones passion for drawing and the painstaking commitment he had to his work. Arranged thematically the exhibition starts with independent drawings, made not with a composition in mind but as artworks in their own right. Tender images of beautiful women with wide, expressive eyes, demonstrate his fascination with female beauty and youth. These drawings trace some of the changes in Burne-Jones's style that continued to develop throughout his long career. They also point to the influence of Italian Renaissance artists whose work, under the influence of art critic and writer John Ruskin, Burne-Jones fervently studied and admired. The second section explores the preparatory studies and drawings Burne-Jones produced as research for larger drawings, watercolours and tapestries, revealing his exhaustive method of building compositions. It includes studies made for major works such as his Pygmalion Series, The Briar Rose Series and The Wheel of Fortune. The content of these well thought out compositional studies also convey Burne-Jones' passion for Romantic and classical literature. Knights, mermaids, goddesses and beautiful women are all present in drawings inspired by myth and legend. The final section presents a number of designs for stained glass windows that Burne-Jones made for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. The star of the show is 'Sponsa de Libano', a spectacular piece more than 3m tall that is one of Burne-Jones's most ambitious watercolours - too delicate for long-term display it has not been seen by the public for almost two decades. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight Village, Wirral, until 12th January.
Vienna - Facing The Modern: The Portrait In Vienna 1900 examines the portraiture closely identified with the distinctive flourishing of modern art in the Austrian capital during its famed fin-de-siecle. The exhibition explores an extraordinary period of art in the multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-faith city of Vienna as imperial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The period began with liberal and democratic reform, urban and economic renewal, and religious and ethnic tolerance, but ended with the rise of conservative, nationalist and anti-Semitic mass movements. Such dramatic changes had a profound impact on the composition and confidence of Vienna's middle classes, many of them immigrants with Jewish roots or connections. At the turn of the 20th century artists worked to the demands of patrons, and in Vienna modern artists were compelled to focus on the image of the individual. Iconic portraits from this period by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Oskar Kokoschka and Arnold Schonberg are displayed alongside works by important yet less widely known artists such as Broncia Koller and Isidor Kaufmann. In contrast to their contemporaries working in Paris, Berlin and Munich, and in response to the demands of their local market, Viennese artists remained focused on the image of the individual. This exhibition can therefore reconstruct the shifting identities of artists, patrons, families, friends, intellectual allies and society celebrities of this time and place. Most works are on canvas, although there are also drawings and the death masks of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Gustav Mahler. Highlights include 'The Family (Self Portrait)' by Schiele; 'Nude Self Portrait' by Gerstl; 'Portrait of a Lady in Black' and 'Portrait of Hermine Gallia' by Klimt; and 'Portraits of Christoph and Isabella Reisser' by Anton Romako. National Gallery until 12th January.
Mary, Queen of Scots explores the myth and reality that surround one of the most enigmatic and romanticised figures in Scottish history. The exhibition traces Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots's story through the dynastic alliances at the heart of Renaissance Europe, following her life from birth in Scotland, childhood in France, to ruling both France and Scotland as Queen, her imprisonment in England and eventual execution. Her life of is revealed through around 200 objects, including paintings, jewellery, textiles, furniture, documents, drawings and maps. Documentary evidence ranges from the earliest surviving letter written by Mary to the warrant for her execution signed by Elizabeth I, including examples of the 'Casket letters', which were used to incriminate her in the Darnley murder, and a letter with secret cipher, presented as proof of her association with the Babington plot to assassinate Elizabeth I, which led eventually to her execution. Among some of the finest pieces of jewellery associated with Mary on show are a gold necklace and pendant locket, known collectively as the Penicuik jewels, said to have been given to one of her supporters during her captivity, in an effort to bind them to the Crown. Renaissance maps and scientific instruments such as a 15th century French astrolabe and 16th century table clock show the context of Europe moving towards an era of rapid scientific advancement, exploration and discovery. However, the 1563 Witchcraft Act shows that this was not yet an age of reason, and John Knox's 'First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women', attacked the rise of female, Catholic rulers in Europe. Finally, the exhibition includes the Book of Hours which was said to be in Mary's possession at the time of her execution and one of the most iconic images of Mary, the 'Memorial Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots', which represents her in preparation for the executioner's block. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 17th November.
A Year In The Life Of Handel: 1713 looks in detail at a particular year in the life of the composer. As well as detailing the events in George Frideric Handel's personal and professional life, the exhibition also explores other significant artistic, scientific and political events during the year, of which he would have been aware. 1713 was a notable year for the 28 year old Handel. Having made his name in Italy, he was the most popular composer in England. Handel's operas were attracting appreciative audiences, and during the course of that year, he received his first commission from the British royal family. It was ceremonial music to celebrate the peace at the end of the War of Spanish Succession, and was first performed in Christopher Wren's recently completed St. Paul's Cathedral. By the end of the year Handel had stood down from his post in Hanover and was granted a generous annual salary of £200 by Queen Anne. He was by then firmly established as a part of the English musical and social world, and would make London his home for the rest of his life. Elsewhere, the hit play of the season at Drury Lane was Joseph Addison's Cato, which was to go on to play an important role in the American Revolution; and Isaac Newton published the second edition of his Principia Mathematica, which clarified his theories on gravity and established the scientific process of proof by observation. Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street, London W1, until 17th November.
Blackpool Illuminations have extended the holiday season and entertained visitors to the seaside town since 1879, when 8 plain electric arc lamps bathed the Promenade in what was described as 'artificial sunshine'. While the basic idea remains the same, the style and scale of Blackpool's end of season electrical extravaganza have little in common with that first experiment in lighting. Traditional lamps are still used, but now alongside the newest technology such as lasers, fibre-optics, low-voltage neon and even real fire and water. The show now costs £2.4m to stage, and stretches for 6 miles of spectacular colour, light and movement. New features this year include the World's Biggest 3D Holographic Experience, with 40 3D holographic characters ranging from tigers and elephants to pirates, zombies and mermaids; Art For Walls, the biggest gallery of original illuminated urban art in the world, comprising 48 panels by 12 artists; It's Sooty!, a tableaux depicting Sooty, Sweep and pals in action; and Sky Galaxy, with over 2000 multi-coloured lights in the sky, randomly twinkling in ever-changing patterns; plus old favourites Haunted House, Teddy Bears Picnic, Theatre D'Amour, Rangoli Peacock, Sanuk, Venus Reborn, Bling and Brilliance renewed and improved. Visitors can become part of the display, as they travel along the Promenade aboard a tram dressed up by lights as a wild west train, ocean liner or space rocket, from dusk to 11.30pm most nights. Blackpool Promenade, until 10th November.