News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th January 2009


High Art: Reynolds And History Painting 1780 - 1815 examines the period when History painting was regarded as the pinnacle of High Art, and was strongly promoted by Sir Joshua Reynolds above other genres, such as portraiture, landscape and still life. This exhibition includes historical and biblical subjects by Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, John Francis Rigaud, and Henry Fuseli. Seminal self portraits by Reynolds and West allude to the knowledge and learning required to pursue history painting, with casts of antique statues, a bust of Michelangelo and books on history included as props to enhance the image of the artist. Similarly, Henry Singleton's 'The Royal Academicians in General Assembly' depicts the Academicians in their grand rooms at Somerset House, surrounded by antique casts and some of the paintings included in this display.

High Life: Celebrating The Loan Of W P Frith's 'Private View at the Royal Academy 1881', which was Frith's last major panoramic painting, shows the Victorian elite seeing and being seen at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1881. Frith includes a host of notable figures from Oscar Wilde and Lily Langtry to the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, and from the actress Ellen Terry to the illustrator John Tenniel. Hung alongside this picture are subject paintings by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Briton Riviere, a portrait of Lord Leighton by G F Watts, and H H Armstead's marble relief of 'The Ever Reigning Queen', which was first seen by the public in the exhibition that Frith depicts.

Royal Academy of Arts until 29th November.

Lee Miller And Friends features the work of the legendary beauty and fashion model, who became an acclaimed photographer, first of fashion, and then on the battlefield. Miller's relationships with Surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray, and painter and collector Roland Penrose, placed her at the heart of 20th century artistic and literary circles, and in a career spanning more than three decades, she came into contact with an astonishing range of people. Many of these became her friends and were the subjects of her penetrating portraits, including Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Fred Astaire and Marlene Dietrich. This exhibition places Miller's images alongside original pieces by her artist friends, including Eileen Agar, Leonora Carrington, Joan Miro, Eduardo Paolozzi, Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso, given to Miller in exchange for her photographs. Among the more unlikely images are a photograph of Picasso standing in front of an English village signpost, alongside his drawing of a lithograph of flying bullets made the same day in the visitor's book of Lee's home, Farley Farm; a shadow portrait of Eileen Agar appearing 'pregnant with a camera' against the Brighton Pavilion; and a picture of Miller in Hitler's bathtub, taken in his apartment in Munich. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester until 29th March.

Top To Toe: Fashion For Kids explores the history of children's fashion, reliving iconic and defining moments from the past 300 years of children's clothing. The exhibition profiles the changing attitudes, themes and fads, from evocative brands like Ladybird and Clothkits to knitted swimsuits, leg warmers and ponchos. It comprises over 100 items, embracing vintage garments, photographs, paintings, advertisements and rare objects, revealing that while materials, styles, colours and shapes developed, some classic garments have remained unchanged, or have been revived due to the practicality of their design. Highlights include a silk and metal thread 18th century toddler's 'pudding hat'; a boy's red woolen dress from 1850; a 19th century muff and hat made of peacock feathers; a girl's printed silk dress with velvet, ribbon, machine lace trim from 1855; a boy's Harrods suit from the 1920s; and the changing face of character merchandising, from a costume based on the illustrations in the Victorian novel Little Lord Fauntleroy, to 1930s child film star Shirley Temple's clothing range. In addition, there is an examination of myths and questions, such as why boys are associated with blue and girls with pink; whether children were always dressed in mini versions of adult clothes; and the contrasting influences of contemporary celebrity and popular culture with the past, when Royal children were the role models. Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, until 19th April.


G F Watts: Victorian Visionary - Highlights From The Watts Gallery Collection is a retrospective exhibition of one of Britain's greatest and most original artists, made possible by the closure of Watts Gallery in Surrey for a restoration and development project. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to examine the output of the artist whose life spanned the Victorian age, but whose art prefigures so many of the concerns of the 20th century. It comprises over 80 paintings, drawings and sculptures, and explores all facets of Watts's artistic output, from allegorical work to portraits, landscapes and engagement with social issues. Highlights include 'Lady Holland'; 'Found Drowned' and 'Irish Famine', radical social paintings of the late 1840s; the grand allegorical paintings 'Progress' and 'Hope' - a bent and vulnerable figure seated on a globe playing a lyre with all but one string broken, a powerful icon of Victorian faith and doubt; and one of his last works, 'The Sower of the Systems', hinting at the abstraction of modern painting that would follow. Guildhall Art Gallery, London, until 26th April.

G F Watts: Parables In Paint explores the religious and spiritual dimension of Watts's art, and the way that this underpins his sense of social responsibility. The exhibition consists of 30 oil paintings and drawings, also from the collection of the Watts Gallery. In addition, the Cathedral is showing 'Time, Death and Judgement' and 'Peace and Goodwill', together in the nave for the first time in decades.St Paul's Cathedral until 30th July.

I Turned It Into A Palace: Sir Sydney Cockerell And The Fitzwilliam Museum shows how the museum was transformed between 1908 and 1937, under the directorship of Sydney Cockerell, by bringing together some of his most famous acquisitions. Cockerell ended the previously indiscriminate approach to style, quality and period in the choice of acquisitions, and revolutionised the display of art in Britain. Among the items in this treasure trove are Titian's 'Tarquin and Lucretia'; some of the finest ancient Greek vases in Britain; works by William Blake and Samuel Palmer; William Morris's Kelmscott Press books, Keats's autograph manuscript of Ode to a Nightingale; Pre-Raphaelite works, including Dante Gabriel Rosetti's unfinished 'Joan of Arc' found by his deathbed; prints by Durer; drawings by Botticelli, Ruebens and Turner; extracts from the Egyptian papyrus of the Book of the Dead of Ramose; and original scores by Mozart and Scarlattil. The exhibition also marks the centenary of the Friends Society, the first of its kind in Britain, which Cockerell founded to support the museum. The Macclesfield Psalter, the 14th century illuminated manuscript, recent acquired following a successful fundraising campaign, is also on display. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 17th March.

From Kabul To Kandahar 1833-1933 reveals the unique and largely undocumented history of Afghanistan, and the British presence there, through rare documentary materials. The exhibition covers the period of the three Anglo-Afghan wars, putting this troubled country's current events in a historical context. Afghanistan is brought to life by the photographs, prints and journals of three men - Ernest Thornton, John Alfred Gray and James Atkinson - who spent time in Afghanistan, as either military personnel or within the expat community, together with photographs and diaries of 19th century British travellers. All together these tell how repeated attempts to invade this fiercely independent and mountainous region have failed, and describe the authors impressions of the Islamic land. Drawings, maps, photographs and lithographs show ancient religious sites, ornamental gardens, everyday market scenes, women, royalty and warriors, portraying an incredibly rich and diverse landscape, culture and people. Early photographs of Kandahar and Kabul from the 1880s show the ravages of war on Afghanistan's architectural monuments. These include the famous 'Bamiyan buddhas', built in the 6th century, and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, which are now the focus of an international restoration campaign. Royal Geographical Society, London, until 26th February.

Darwin is a celebration of the man and his revolutionary theory that changed that changed man's understanding of the world and his place within it. The exhibition retraces Darwin's life changing journey as a young man aboard the HMS Beagle on its 5 year voyage around the world. It contains the clues that helped him develop the idea of evolution by natural selection through notebooks, artefacts, rare personal belongings, and the fossils and zoological specimens he collected on his travels. The objects on display, coupled with illuminating text and films, reveal the patterns Darwin observed among animals that provided the evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection, and led to the publication of On The Origin Of Species. These include live green iguanas and horned frogs from South America, together with mounted specimens of the animals and birds he saw on his journey, such as sloths, rheas, armadillos and mockingbirds. There is also a reconstruction of Darwin's study at Down House, where he refined his theory, which includes an original handwritten page from On The Origin Of Species, together with family photographs and love letters, and a box filled with shells and family keepsakes, which show a different side to the scientist, as a family man, husband and father of 10 children. The exhibition concludes with an exploration of modern evolutionary biology, and the importance of evolution in understanding how infectious disease causing organisms keep changing as we attempt to control their spread. Natural History Museum until 19th April.

The Glasgow Boys: Drawings And Watercolours is a selection of works by the informal grouping of artists who were inspired by progressive French painting, and produced some of the most decorative and adventurous painting in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. The group of around 20 artists became known as the 'Glasgow Boys', whose leading figures were James Guthrie, George Henry, E A Hornel, John Lavery, Arthur Melville, James Paterson and E A Walton, treated watercolour and pastel as mediums just as noble as paint. The works on display feature drawings and watercolours that mainly belong to the second half of the artists' careers, when their early interest in rustic realism had been replaced by a commitment to decorative and aesthetic effect, and a wider range of subject matter. Highlights include James Paterson's 'Moniaive' and James Guthrie's 'Winter', both of which show a desire to experiment in an almost abstract manner with the forms and shapes found in landscape; Arthur Melville's 'A Byway in Granada', in which he achieved its strong contrast between light and dark by dropping pure pigment onto untouched areas of the wet paper; and George Henry's 'A Japanese Pottery Seller' and 'Japanese Beauty', which mark a high point in his career. Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, until 16th May.

Magnificence Of The Tzars: Ceremonial Men's Dress Of The Russian Imperial Court 1721 - 1917 is a display of rare and lavishly decorated costumes and uniforms worn by the Tsars and court officials of Imperial Russia, most of which have never been publicly exhibited before, either in Russia or abroad. These come from the Moscow Kremlin Museums, which together with the Armoury Chamber, form Russia's oldest national treasury, and their collections include the dress of the emperor and other participants in ceremonies at court. Over 40 ensembles include the extensive silver and gold embellished wardrobe of Peter II, ranging from brocade jackets to formal nightgowns made of satin and lined with fur, and the coronation uniforms of the succeeding seven Tzars, concluding with the 5m long ermine trimmed Imperial coronation mantle of Nicholas II, together with dress uniforms of court officials, coachmen, postilions and other servants. These spectacular garments show the work of the most eminent master craftsmen of the period, giving a taste of the legendary magnificence and luxury of the Imperial Russian Court. In addition, there are hats and boots, dress weapons worn at court, an enamelled gold snuff box, a jewelled gunpowder flask, a pocket telescope, a herald's staff, insignia, jewellery, illustrated books and portraits of the Tzars. Victoria & Albert Museum until 29th March.


Rothko focuses on the late works of Mark Rothko, one of America's most important post war painters, made between 1958 and 1970. Rothko's iconic paintings, composed of luminous, soft-edged rectangles saturated with colour, are among the most enduring and mysterious created by an artist in modern times, glowing deep dark reds, oranges, maroons, browns, blacks and greys. The exhibition comprises around 50 works, comprising paintings and works on paper, the most important of which are 16 Seagram murals. These were commissioned in 1958 for the Four Seasons restaurant in the new Seagram building in New York, but having made the paintings, Rothko decided that it was not a suitable place for them to be seen. The bright and intense colours of his earlier paintings had made way to maroon, dark red and black, and Rothko realised that their brooding character required a very different environment. Though the original commission was for only 7 paintings, Rothko eventually painted 30 canvases in the series. This is the first time in their history that such a large group of these paintings (belonging to a number of galleries around the world) have been seen together. The Seagram murals are shown alongside other landmark series of Rothko's paintings, including major 'Black-Form' paintings, large scale 'Brown on Grey' works on paper, and works from his last series 'Black on Grey'. Tate Modern until 1st February.

Paths To Fame: Turner Watercolours From The Courtauld is the first opportunity to see this collection in its entirety, including 9 recent acquisitions. The watercolours are rarely on public view because of their susceptibility to damage from strong light (hence they are shown in winter). The collection includes work from across Turner's career, ranging from an early view of the Avon Gorge, Bristol, made when he was just 16, to examples of the monumental highly finished watercolours of his maturity, and the expressive late works. Turner travelled the length and breadth of Britain and the Continent in search of inspirational and marketable views. Following in his footsteps, the exhibition traces the evolution of his inventive and entrepreneurial approach to the making of landscape in watercolour - such as rearranging the landscape for a more dramatic effect. Among the highlights are 'Rome from San Pietro in Montorio', 'Mont Blanc from above Courmayeur', 'On Lake Lucerne looking towards Fluelen', 'Heaped Thundercloud over Sea and Land, Storm on Margate Sands', 'Margate Pier', and 'Dawn after the Wreck'. The works from the collection are supplemented by closely related loans, offering the opportunity to trace the development of certain compositions, including the panoramic view 'Crook of Lune', from early sketches and exploratory 'colour beginnings' to finished watercolours, and in some cases, published prints. Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London until 25th January

This Is War! Robert Capa At Work features the work of one of the leading photographers of the 20th century, and a pioneer of photojournalism. Robert Capa captured war as it unfolded on the front line, and his images have now come to define key moments in history. Working with the Leica, a super light-weight camera invented by a mountaineer, Capa got closer to the heat of the battle than any previous photographer, redefining how war was pictured. Taking its title from the headline of a 1938 Picture Post story, this exhibition brings together rarely seen photographs, vintage prints, contact sheets, handwritten observations, personal letters, and original magazine layouts, and looks closely at Capa's working process, and the construction of six of his key photo stories from the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition includes an examination of the most famous image of the Spanish Civil War, Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, Cerro Muriano, generally known as 'The Falling Soldier', capturing a soldier who has just been shot and falling to his death, with, for the first time, all the known images taken by Capa on that day, providing new details to help understand the events that resulted in the creation of this iconic photograph. The show also unites the 10 existing images of Capa's legendary shots of the Omaha beach landing in Normandy, France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. Although many of the original negatives were destroyed in a darkroom accident, the surviving images have become synonymous with the Allied victory in the Second World War. In addition, there are selected works from the recently discovered 'Mexican suitcase', a valise missing for 70 years containing thousands of Capa's negatives from the Spanish Civil War, on public view for the first time. Barbican Gallery until 25th January.