News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd November 2005


The Regency Country House is the first ever comprehensive survey of the key English country houses of 1800 to 1830. In the mid 20th century, after several decades of neglect and the estimated loss of 1,700 English country houses, the surviving houses of the Regency period took on a new lease of life, partly thanks to Country Life authors such as Christopher Hussey, who played a significant role in the rediscovery and popularisation of the Regency period, a time when the English country house took on many of the qualities and attributes that we still take for granted today. The exhibition is illustrated with material from the Country Life Picture Library. It encompasses the princely palaces and houses associated with the Prince Regent, nobleman's houses such as Tregothnan, and Eastnor Castle, and gentleman's houses such as Southill, Bedfordshire and Sheringham. The work of leading country houses architects is featured, including the Wyatt dynasty, Henry Holland, John Nash, C R Cockerell, Robert Smirke, William Wilkins, Thomas Hopper, Humphry Repton and Sir John Soane. It is through the work of these architects that the exhibition explores major architectural themes of the Regency, from the emergence of the Graeco-Roman style to the Gothic Revival, the Picturesque and Cottage Ornee (rustic buildings of picturesque design) and the influential role of Thomas Hope, whose country house and garden at Deepdene influenced the revival of the Italian style of garden design. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 25th February.

Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon And The Pre-Raphaelites marks the centenary of the death of the little known Pre-Raphaelite painter, and is the first full scale display of his work since then. Solomon enjoyed early success, with paintings of biblical and classical subjects, and was regularly hailed by the critics as a genius. Indeed, Edward Burne-Jones is said to have called him "the greatest artist of us all". However, his career was effectively destroyed when his homosexuality became public knowledge in 1873. Soloman ended his life a destitute alcoholic in an East End workhouse, half forgotton, and even working as a pavement artist, but still producing powerful drawings and watercolours. This exhibition reveals the life and work of this complex artist, offering a chance to rediscover the outsider of British painting, and reassess his place in 19th century art. It brings together over 150 paintings, pencil and pen and ink drawings, watercolours and photographs, many of which have not been seen in public since Solomon's own lifetime, together with works by Solomon's friends and contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Anthony Frederick Sandys, Walter Crane and the Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff. Among the highlights are 'A Young Musician In The Temple Service During the Feast of the Tabernacle', 'The Child Jeremiah', 'Love in Autumn' and 'The Marriage Ceremony'. Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery until 15th January.

What Women Want is an exhibition assessing what women have campaigned, fought and longed for, both past and present. It includes a diverse range of iconic objects, such as the banners carried by suffragettes campaigning for the right to vote, and early editions of Spare Rib and Nova magazines, as well as more personal objects such as T-shirts and badges that convey the beliefs and desires of their owners. The journals of women who travelled the world a century ago demonstrate a desire for adventure and freedom beyond the confines of conventional Edwardian society, whilst in the 1980s, women made journeys to the Peace Camps at Greenham Common. Such campaigns for global peace and security are counterbalanced with visual material from campaigns against domestic violence, demanding safety and security at a basic personal level. Nigella Lawson's baking bible 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and Barbara Cartland's 'Recipes for Lovers' stand in stark contrast to Erin Pizzey's The Slut's Cookbook, just as the 1970s 'Why be a Wife' campaign (slogan: Is there life after marriage?) contrasts with the aspirational glamour and idealised romance of Asian Bride magazine. The advent of plastic surgery as a 'lifestyle choice' is a contemporary phenomenon, but concerns with health, beauty and body image go a long way back, as shown in books and magazines from The Dress Review in 1903 to Marie Claire in 2003. The Women's Library, London until 26th August.


China: The Three Emperors, 1662 - 1795 presents the artistic and cultural riches of the three most powerful rulers of China's last dynasty, the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors. Some 400 works include such treasures as paintings and painted scrolls, jades and bronzes, porcelain and lacquer ware, precious robes and embroideries, palace furnishings, scientific instruments, weapons and ceremonial armour, and examples of calligraphy. They are largely drawn from the unique collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing, which was established on the site of the Imperial Palace, built in 1420, known as the Forbidden City. It combines the former imperial collections, and very few of its works have ever been seen outside China before. A spectacular range of paintings and objects illustrate the various activities, projects and accomplishments associated with the three emperors. Using the great painters of the court and the principal workshops of China who were at their command, they had themselves portrayed in magnificent paintings and commissioned dazzling works of art to the glory of the state. Among the highlights of the exhibition are court paintings illustrating the many different occasions that marked the calendar. Huge hanging scrolls 18 yards long, hand scrolls and albums show imperial palaces, hunting expeditions and journeys undertaken across the empire, together with representations of ceremonial events such as royal visits and the emperors' birthday celebrations. Royal Academy of Arts until 17th April.

James Turrell, the American installation artist who mixes art with science, has created three colour-light-space environments indoors in the new Underground Gallery. Turrell uses light to make sculpture by transforming the perceptions of those who enter his creations. The exhibition features a new work 'Ganzfield: Tight End', which envelopes the entire gallery and viewer in a blue radiance, recreating a 'ganzfeld experience' (first noted by Arctic explorers who suffered a temporary form of snow blindness as a result of gazing at endless fields of white) where atmosphere, diversity and the mass of light gradually become physically felt. The second, 'Gray Day', appears to be a completely black environment, so that visitors have to rely on their non visual senses, in which Turrell, using state of the art electronics, optics and physics, sets in motion primitive natural instincts, until eventually strange shapes begin to appear. The third, 'Wedgework V', is another dark space, where a complex series of glows unfold into an arrangement of ghostly rectangles and crisscrossing outlines, in which visitors have no way of finding their light sources, or whether they are voids or solids. A spooky 21st century haloween experience. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield until 3rd September.

Henri Rousseau: Jungles In Paris is the first exhibition to be held in the UK for 80 years of work by an artist who created some of the most popular and memorable paintings of the modern era. Rousseau is celebrated for his visionary jungle paintings that captivate the viewer with the lushness of their plant and animal life, painted with incredible detail and precision. Extraordinarily he never saw the tropical scenes he brought so much to life, as he never left France. Rousseau's exotic jungle paintings are the fantasies of a city dweller, constructed from visits to the zoo and botanical gardens in Paris, from postcards, books and from his imagination. These jungles offered him a dream of escape from humdrum reality to a savage and yet enchanting realm. Rousseau's unique vision was celebrated by his modernist contemporaries like Pablo Picasso and the surrealists Rene Magritte and Max Ernst, who saw his work as opening up new realms of artistic possibility. They were fascinated by his bold, primitive style and the dream like nature of his paintings. For a customs official who was self taught and only took up painting full time in retirement, this was an extraordinary accomplishment. The exhibition features 50 works, including an extensive group of jungle paintings, and draws comparisons between these and Rousseau's other main areas of artistic interest: Parisian landscapes, portraits and allegorical paintings. Also on display is a comprehensive survey of Rousseau's source materials, offering an insight into his working methods and the Paris of his time. Tate Modern until 5th February.

Samuel Palmer: Vision And Landscape celebrates the range of one of the most original and appealing of British landscape painters of the Romantic era. Palmer's rich and sensual images of the countryside combine a vivid sense of vision with intimacy and tenderness, but there is also an undertow of mystery, even tragedy, in much of his work. His purpose, to reclaim the spiritual element in English landscape, represents the intuitive, pastoral and nostalgic aspects of the Romantic period at their most intense. Palmer's best known works are the paintings and drawings he produced at the beginning of his career, when he was part of an artistic community at Shoreham in Kent. It was these pictures, which seemed so modern in their experimentation, that made him a powerful influence on many artists in the 20th century. However, he never enjoyed more than modest success for the muted form of lyrical landscapes that he practised, although he produced work of high quality, including views of known places such as 'Tintagel Castle', and idealised scenes such as 'A View of Ancient Rome'. The exhibition traces the deliberate 'primitivism' of his early work, inspired by William Blake, Milton and Durer, through his public career in the 1840s, to the revival of his 'inner sympathies' in the 1860s, with a series of watercolours and etchings for works by Milton and Virgil. Among the highlights of some 150 watercolours, sketches and etchings are 'Cornfield by Moonlight', 'The Magic Apple Tree', 'In a Shoreham Garden', 'A Hilly Scene', 'The Bellman' and 'The Lonely Tower'. The British Museum until 22nd January.

Dancing To The Music Of Time: The Life And Work Of Anthony Powell explores the world of one of the most important English novelists of the 20th century. Powell was a key member of a group of writers, among them Cyril Connelly, George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, who came to prominence in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is best known for his twelve novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, about London society in the first half of the 20th century, taking its title from the Nicolas Poussin painting, which is featured here. The exhibition focuses on Powell's life, his friends and contemporaries, and his career as a novelist and art collector. Among the objects on display are portraits of Powell and his friends, and many original manuscripts and illustrations relating to his opus. These include typescripts of the novels, his manuscript notebook, drawings for book covers by Misha Black, Osbert Lancaster and Mark Boxer and promotional posters. Powell's acute sense of humour is evident in his scrapbooks and a photo album documenting a spoof detective mystery 'The Tranby-Croft Case' acted out by Powell and his wife, together with Francis Watson and Gerald Reitlinger during a weekend in 1937. Works of art from Powell's own collection include drawings and paintings by J F Lewis, Sickert, Vuillard and Picasso. These are seen together with letters, post cards, documents, photographs, books, furniture and other objects from his idiosyncratic Somerset home The Chantry. The Wallace Collection until 5th February.

Rubens: A Master In The Making tells the story of Peter Paul Rubens's ascension from working as a pupil of a minor Antwerp artist, to become the dominant international painter of his time. It is the most thorough explanation of what was called 'the fury of the brush' ever attempted. The story begins in Antwerp, with works such as 'The Battle of the Amazons' and 'The Battle of Nude Men', where Rubens is sketching the movement and placement of bodies to create the energy and motion that was to become the signature of all his paintings. On his 8 year study trip to Italy, he was exposed to the Renaissance greats Michelangelo and Raphael, and the revolutionary style of Caravaggio, whose influence is revealed in paintings such as 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'St George' and 'Hero and Leander'. Three versions of 'The Judgement of Paris', using different mediums: oil on oak, oil on copper and oil on panel, show Rubens's evolution in style, from undefined bodies to more defined physiques. A group of Genoese portraits from 1606 offer the opportunity to focus on works that are by Rubens's hand alone, undiluted by any workshop assistance. The culmination of the show is a group of Rubens's best known heroic images, created from an amalgam of sources on his return to Antwerp. These include 'The Descent from the Cross', 'The Entombment' 'Samson and Delilah', 'The Massacre of the Innocents', 'Ecce Homo' and 'Roman Charity' - works that were last seen together in Rubens's studio. National Gallery until 15th January.


The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries Of Book Production In The Medieval West is a two venue exhibition of over 200 illuminated manuscripts dating from 6th to the 16th centuries, many on public view for the first time. Sacred and secular, scientific and humanistic, historical and literary, the range of manuscripts on display showcases the work of some of the greatest medieval and Renaissance illuminators, and includes commissions by the most celebrated patrons of learning and art, including the Kings of France and England, the Dukes of Burgundy and the Medici. Among the highlights are the 6th century 'Gospels of St Augustine', the earliest medieval illuminated manuscript known in this country, over which new Archbishops of Canterbury still swear their oaths; the 13th century Trinity 'Apocalypse', the largest and most sumptuously illuminated of all English Apocalypses; the Peterborough Bestiary, the Free Warren Charter, and Statutes of England from Henry III to Richard II, as well as numerous books of hours, bestiaries, Bibles, encyclopaedias, scientific and mathematical manuscripts, university foundation charters, and historical, mythological and geographical treatises. An entire gallery is devoted to the display of individual leaves from the renowned Macclesfield Psalter, produced around 1330, and recently saved for the nation, providing a unique opportunity to see the richness and variety of its illustrations, using precious pigments and gold. They combine devotional imagery with depictions of every day life and grotesque creations of the wildest imagination. The Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Library, Cambridge until 11th December.

Edvard Munch By Himself focuses on self portraits by the Norwegian artist, and it is the first time that such a large cross section, from all stages of his career, has been brought together. The exhibition comprises 150 paintings, drawings, etchings and sketchbooks, as well as rarely seen photographs. Starting with the first self portrait painted as a 17 year old student at the Royal School of Drawing, Kristiania, the exhibition concludes with the last works produced in seclusion at his house in Ekely in the 1940s. It provides a unique opportunity to survey Munch's career as he recorded himself passing through moments of self doubt, depression, illness and passion. Unlike the studio self portraits of other artists, Munch injected his own likeness into a variety of scenes, including the assassination of Marat, the decapitation of John The Baptist and the crucifixion of Christ. These works capture the Munch's obsession with his own physical and mental well being, concerns shaped by personal experiences, including the deaths of his mother and his elder sister from tuberculosis, and his own weak health and bouts of depression. Included in the exhibition are 'Self-portrait Man with Bronchitis', representative of his preoccupation with his health, and 'Self-Portrait Between Clock and Bed'. Munch's strong use of colour and distortion of the human form became characteristic of the way in which he communicated his feelings as a consequence of his personal experiences. His stark, uncompromising self portraits reflect his close friendship with and admiration for the work of his contemporaries, including among others, Henrik Ibsen, Knut Hamsun, and August Strindberg, who advocated the portrayal of the unconscious in their work. Royal Academy until 11th December.

Point Of No Return: Photographs By Thomas Joshua Cooper marks the midway point of 'The World's Edge - The Atlantic Basin Project', Cooper's epic endeavour to record the extremities of land that surround the Atlantic Ocean. So far, he has mapped the western seaboard of Africa and Europe. In doing so Cooper explores nature and humanity's place within it - the physical and psychological boundaries of civilisation, and the urge to push those boundaries further. From 1969 Cooper has observed a vow to only make outdoor pictures using a 19th century AGFA wooden field camera, each remote site the subject of just a single exposure. The resulting photographs, in rich black and white, chronicle his journey in a story of vast seas, with the changing coastline or the occasional horizon offered as the only boundary. They appear to both document fact, and offer a mysterious other worldly vision. Cooper's work attempts to evoke the pioneering voyages of discovery of the 17th century with their spirit of wonderment, and several of the chosen locations have particular relevance to the journeys of navigators such as Columbus and Magellan. His mapping of the landscape in black and white detail also follows in the tradition of American photographers such as Timothy H O'Sullivan. The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester until 4th December.