News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th September 2009


Turner And The Masters presents a selection of paintings by JMW Turner alongside related works by the old masters and contemporaries he strove to imitate, rival and surpass. The exhibition brings together over 100 pictures of historical significance, and provides an unprecedented opportunity to view Turner's works alongside masterpieces by more than 30 other artists, including Canaletto, Claude, Titian, Aelbert Cuyp, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem van de Velde, Veronese, Watteau, Constable, and R P Bonington. In so doing, it reveals that Turner's responses to other artists were both acts of homage and a sophisticated form of art criticism, designed to demonstrate his understanding of the most celebrated masters, and his ability to make their art his own. The exhibition includes Rembrandt's 'Landscape with the Rest on the flight into Egypt' paired with Turner's 'Moonlight, a study at Millbank'; Claude's 'Moses saved from the Waters' with Turner's 'Crossing the Brook'; Ruisdael's 'A Rough Sea at a Jetty 'alongside Turner's 'Port Ruysdael'; Poussin's 'Winter - The Deluge' paired with Turner's 'The Deluge'; Willem van de Vel's 'A Rising Gale' alongside Turner's 'Dutch Boats in a Gale'; and Constable's 'Opening of Waterloo Bridge' with Turner's 'Helvoetsluys'. It was Turner's strategy, almost uniquely within the history of European art, to enter into direct competition with artists both past and present, whom he considered as worthy rivals to his own fame. Turner built his reputation as an oil painter by challenging the works of old masters, deliberately producing paintings that could hang in their company. Tate Britain until 31st January.

50 Years Of The Mini marks the 50th anniversary of the first of Alec Issigonis's iconic British cars to roll off the production line - priced at £500. The exhibition tells the story of the design, production and development of the car that was a symbol for the Swinging Sixties, and shows how the Mini became part of our social history as a nation, as Mini's were owned by people in all walks of life, from Mr Bean to Princess Margaret. More than 5m were built, with production of the original design finally ending at Longbridge in October 2000. The display includes not only complete and partial vehicles themselves, but original designs, manufacturing documentation, photographs, archive film and promotional materials. Highlights include some of the best known examples of the vehicle, including the first Morris Mini produced at Cowley in 1959; the last classic Mini to be manufactured in 2000; Paddy Hopkirk's 1964 Monte Carlo winning Mini 33EJB; the BMC 9X hatchback - a unique prototype designed by Issigonis as a possible replacement for the Mini; and the latest BMW Mini, currently being manufactured in Oxford. Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire, until 23rd December.

The Life And Lives Of Dr Johnson celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of the writer, bookseller and compiler of the Dictionary of the English Language with a display of portraits of Johnson and his circle. Paintings, prints and drawings also include portraits of those whose 'lives' Samuel Johnson wrote, such as John Milton and Alexander Pope, alongside his contemporary biographers, and the satirical prints that emerged in response to the race to record his life. Johnson played a significant role in the development of biography, transforming the genre, and raising the status of what was previously considered to be a 'low' form of literature. The display shows how Johnson's appearance was recorded by at least 12 artists, and how his portrait was disseminated widely through the medium of print. He was often depicted with books or writing tools in a tradition for representing authors that goes back to the Ancient Greeks. Also included in the display are portraits of the key people in Johnson's life, including David Garrick, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and Hester Lynch Piozzi. To coincide with the exhibition, Joshua Reynolds's iconic portrait of Johnson is on display after a substantial period in conservation, which has revealed insights into its complex history and painting. Reynolds left it unfinished, and it remained in his studio until he gave it to James Boswell, Johnson's friend and biographer. National Portrait Gallery until 13th December.


Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler tells the story of Moctezuma II, the last elected ruler of the Aztecs. From 1502 until 1520 he presided over a large empire embracing much of what is today central Mexico. Moctezuma was regarded as a semi- divine figure by his subjects charged with the task of interceding with the gods. This exhibition examines his life, reign and controversial death during the Spanish conquest. The Spanish were initially well received in the Aztec capital, but distrust and violence ensued. Moctezuma was captured and met his death shortly afterwards. Overcoming resistance, the Spanish went on to conquer his empire. Moctezuma's life and dramatic death are explained through objects ranging from sculpture, gold and mosaic items, to European paintings. The exhibition presents masterpieces of Aztec culture, including the stone monument known as the 'Teocalli of Sacred Warfare', amongst other works commissioned by Moctezuma himself, which bear his image and his name glyph; a turquoise mask and goldwork showcasing the consummate craftsmanship of artisans employed in the Aztec court; paintings known as 'Enconchados' - oil paintings on wooden panels with inlaid Mother of Pearl detail - portraying the events of the conquest in vivid detail; a model of the Great Temple and other ritual buildings in the capital, revealing where Moctezuma carried out blood-letting rituals, and ordered the sacrifice of captives; and idealised European portraits of Moctezuma and colonial Codices, showing how interpretations of Moctezuma and his world have been shaped. British Museum until 24th January.

Commando - Art And Action is an opportunity to view original, never seen before artworks from the archives of the iconic British comic Commando, which has fed the fevered imaginations of men and boys for almost 5 decades. Launched in 1961 by DC Thompson, the company that published comic favourites The Beano and The Dandy, Commando was a competitor to Fleetway's pioneering War Picture Library. It soon became the benchmark in war comic publishing, eventually eclipsing its competitors, and is now, remarkably unchanged, the sole remaining survivor. The Commando story formula remains simple: tales of courage, cowardice, and comradeship, usually set against the backdrop of the Second World War. The format of the comic also plays a significant part in explaining its enduring popularity: always a 63 page story, always in black and white, and always high quality artwork. Some of the best examples of works in the display from DC Thomson's roster of artists are by the likes of Commando stalwarts Ian Kennedy and the great Gordon Livingstone, an artist who remained with the company all of his working life, until his retirement in the 1990s. In addition to the artworks themselves, the exhibition also reveals the process of how a story is created and put into production, following the tale of a REME engineer in 'Front Line Fixer'. REME Museum of Technology, Isaac Newton Road, Arborfield, Berkshire, until 30th October.

In A Bloomsbury Square: T S Eliot The Publisher explores the ways in which the poet and playwright nurtured and developed some of the most significant writers of the 20th century while, working for the publisher Faber and Faber. In the 1930s and beyond, Eliot used his roles as editor and publisher to promote modernist writing, successfully lending it authority, asserting its significance, and making it both respectable and accessible to a wider public. During this time he worked with, amongst others, James Joyce, W H Auden, Marianne Moore, David Jones, and Ted Hughes. As well as shedding light on the various inter-relationships between Eliot's roles as publisher, editor and author, the exhibition also explores his belief in the wider social and cultural mission of publishing. The display comprises original manuscripts, correspondence, art works and sound recordings, as well as previously unseen material from the Faber archive and the Eliot estate. Exhibits include: a letter from Eliot to Geoffrey Faber from 1936 urging publication of Djuna Barnes's novel Nightwood, (Eliot was the only publisher who did not reject it); Ted Hughes journal entry from 1960, giving his impressions on meeting the luminaries of the first generation Faber poets, including W H Auden, Stephen Spender and Louis MacNeice; and letter from Eliot to his 3 year old godson Tom Faber, including the verse "Invitation to all Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats to come to the Birthday of Thomas Faber", testing out his ideas for what was to become one of his best known works. The British Library until 6th December.

The Darwin Centre is a spectacular new £78m building, designed by C F Moller Architects of Denmark, the main feature of which is a 65 metre long 8 storey high Cocoon, whose surface is 3,500 square metres of hand finished polished plaster, contained within an atrium, plus 1,040 square metres of laboratory space. The Cocoon is home to 17 million insect and 3 million plant specimens - from huge tarantulas to metre high poisonous plants - held in 3.3 kilometers of temperature controlled cabinets. For the first time, visitors are able to see into the hidden world of scientific research, where some of the centre's 220 scientists work on cutting edge research that could help protect the future of the earth, through viewing decks and video monitors, and ask questions via an audio link. Over 500 real insects and plants are on display, including 124 specimens in the introductory area, such as an Atlas moth with a 16cm wingspan, the 15.5cm elephant beetle and 3mm sandflies on microscope slides; a wall of 326 specimens over two floors, from a half-metre crayfish to a wingless termite; around 50 giant plants, including the 1.2m hemlock water dropwort Oenanthe crocata; a 12 metre wide interactive wall showing the consequences of human impact on the climate; 20 historically important 'iconic' specimens, including the vegetable lamb of Tartary, insects collected by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and a bound herbarium volume, containing plants gathered by the collector Sir Hans Sloane. In addition to real specimens and scientists, the Cocoon also features over 40 high tech installations and hands on interactive activities that reveal the field work, taxonomy and DNA work of other scientists. Natural History Museum, continuing.

Toy Tales is a celebration of 60 years of BBC children's television programmes, some of whose characters are still with us, and some of whom have disappeared to the great toy box in the sky. The exhibition offers the opportunity to renew acquaintances with Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Rag, Tag and Bobtail, Paddington Bear, Sooty and Sweep, Basil Brush, The Magic Roundabout and Postman Pat. Visitors can reminisce about grainy black and white images of puppets such as Muffin the Mule and Pinky and Perky, and compare them with the hi-definition colour of today's favourites, like Charlie and Lola, 64 Zoo Lane, and In The Night Garden. All these characters and more are represented in various forms, including puppets, videos, original scripts, story boards, props and drawings. The exhibition also pays tribute to the animator, puppeteer and author Oliver Postgate, who, together with Peter Firmin, set up the company Smallfilms in a disused cowshed at Firmin's home in Kent, producing animated footage on a shoestring budget to great acclaim. Peter Firmin's own collection of The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, are featured in the exhibition, together with original Bagpuss story boards. The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, until 1st November.

Sound Designs: The Story Of Boosey & Hawkes illustrates the important contribution that the instrument maker Boosey & Hawkes and their employees made to the shaping of playing styles, the development of the brass band tradition and the sound of British orchestras. At one time, the huge Boosey & Hawkes factory in Edgware employed 700 people, who produced 1,000 musical instruments each week. The museum was able to acquire the prestigious Boosey & Hawkes collection of historic instruments and archives chronicling over 150 years of instrument making when the factory ceased production in 2001. Over 100 items, including fascinating drawings and photographs of musical instruments, instrument production records, stock books, minute books and tools, provide an insight into the manufacturing techniques and technical innovations that established Boosey & Hawkes as the premier British instrument manufacturer. Highlights of the exhibition include an engraved glass flute from 1816, a silver trumpet belonging to Queen Victoria's head trumpeter, and early designs of instruments that were the foundation of the British Brass Band tradition. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London SE23, until 1st November.


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.

French Porcelain For English Palaces: Sevres From The Royal Collection brings together around 300 pieces created by the pre-eminent European porcelain factory of the 18th century. The finely painted and gilded works by Sevres were loved by royalty, aristocrats, connoisseurs and collectors. The factory's unrivalled techniques and complex methods of production appealed to their liking for the rare, exotic and extravagant. The Royal Collection contains the world's finest group of Sevres pieces, much of it acquired between 1783 and 1830 by George IV, who popularised the taste for French porcelain in Britain. Porcelain production started in 1740 at the chateau de Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, and the factory was re-established in the village of Sevres in 1756. Louis XV began the royal association with the factory, becoming first a customer and then a major shareholder, before acquiring it wholly as royal property in 1759. Among the highlights of the exhibition are a garniture of three vases first bought by Marie-Antoinette; a vase that was probably bought by Louis XV's mistress Madame du Barry, featuring a youthful profile of the French king; and the Table of the Grand Commanders, which was made for Napoleon, and given as a gift to George IV by Louis XVIII. Also on display is part of the most expensive dinner service created at Sevres in the 18th century for Louis XVI; and a pair of mounted vases that once formed part of the furnishings of the King's private apartments at Versailles. Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 11th October.

The Discovery Of Spain explores the fascination for Spanish art and culture in 19th and early 20th century Britain. The exhibition of some 130 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, charts a period in which Spanish culture flourished, despite - or perhaps partly as a result of - extreme political upheaval, from the peninsular war of 1807-14, to the Spanish civil war of 1936-39. Outstanding examples of Spanish art, including Goya's 'The Duke of Wellington' and 'Disasters of War'; Velazquez's 'A Spanish Gentleman' and 'An Old Woman Cooking Eggs'; El Greco's 'The Tears of St Peter' and 'Woman in a Fur Wrap'; Murillo's 'Flower Seller'; Zurbaran's 'St Francis in Meditation'; and Picasso's 'Weeping Woman' form the centerpiece for the exhibition. They are shown together with paintings by major British artists who were captivated by the experience of travelling through Spain, including David Wilkie's 'The Defence of Saragossa'; William Nicholson's 'Plaza del Toros, Malaga'; John Phillip's 'La Gloria': A Spanish Wake'; Arthur Melville's 'The Orange Market, Saragossa' and 'A Spanish Sunday, Going to the Bullfight'; There are also works by artists who were influenced by Spanish painters, such as John Everett Millais's 'Souvenir of Velazquez'; John Singer Sargent's 'Portrait of W Graham Robertson'; and James McNeill Whistler's 'Brown and Gold (Self-Portrait)'. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh until 11th October.