News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th October 2013


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.

The Cheapside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels paints a vivid picture of one of the darkest and most visceral periods of London's history. The Cheapside Hoard is a collection of late 16th and early 17th century jewels and gemstones that was discovered in 1912, buried in a cellar on Cheapside in the City of London. The story of this extraordinary treasure is multi-faceted - a tale of war, murder on the high seas, chance discovery and clandestine dealings. A jeweller's stock in trade, the Hoard was buried between 1640 and 1666. Comprising nearly 500 pieces, it includes delicate finger rings, cascading necklaces, Byzantine cameos, beautiful jewelled scent bottles, and a unique Colombian emerald watch. It is the single most important source of knowledge on early modern jewellery worldwide. However, research has found that amongst the Hoard are two counterfeit balas rubies, fashioned from rock crystal, cut, polished and dyed to represent natural gems by the dubious jeweller Thomas Sympson. His relatives, John and Francis Sympson, received stolen goods snatched from the jeweller, Gerrard Pulman, who became victim of a plot and was murdered for his stash of jewels on board a ship travelling home from Persia to London in 1631. The exhibition offers new evidence about the individuals and communities engaged in mining, cutting, trading and buying jewels and looks at their creative talents, craft skills and manufacturing techniques. The jewels are shown with a range of objects and portraits of goldsmith-jewellers, patrons and consumers, to paint a picture of the fashions and culture at play in Tudor and early Stuart London, and illustrate the importance of jewellery in early modern society. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, until 27th April.

Kabuki: Japanese Theatre Prints reveals the spectacular artwork and larger-than-life characters from a 19th century Japanese cultural phenomenon shown in woodblock prints. Striking designs present vivid depictions of Kabuki, the popular form of traditional, all male, Japanese theatre, which combines drama, music, dance and acrobatics in convoluted plots concerning dramatic, emotional conflicts and feats of derring-do. The woodblock prints were a cheap and colourful medium of entertainment, much like magazines and posters today. Their visual style is akin to those of Manga comics and Japanese cinema. Publishing houses commissioned designs from the greatest artists of the era, but the prints were affordable to the average person on the street. In the 19th century, both men and women clamoured to acquire pictures of their favourite actor in the latest play. Such prints often sold in the thousands, creating an almost endless demand for new compositions from artists. The obsession with Kabuki actors led artists to take backstage scenes or life offstage as subject matter and so, in a loose parallel with modern candid publicity pictures in celebrity magazines, some prints portray actors out for a walk, dressed as ordinary people, or attending festivals. There are also representations of their cultural activities, participating in salons for poetry composition and calligraphy. The time span of the exhibition, 1830s to 1870s, encompasses a period of significant unrest in Japan, culminating in the collapse of the feudal system in 1868, followed by a period of modernisation and social reform. The later prints reflect these changes, in the style and themes and also in the introduction of new technology and dyes, which expanded the possibilities for artists and publishers. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2nd February.

Tomorrow - Elmgreen & Dragset At The V&A is a major installation by the Danish/Norwegian artist duo spread over 5 galleries, in the form of an apartment belonging to a fictional, elderly and disillusioned architect. The installation features over 100 historical objects from the museum's collection that sit alongside works by the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, as well as items sourced from antique markets. The result appears like a set for an unrealised film. To accompany it, Elmgreen and Dragset have written a script, which is available to visitors as a printed book. The drama centres on a retired architect who had great vision but very little success in his professional life. In his twilight years, and with the family fortune long gone, he is forced to sell his inherited home and all his possessions. The script comments on issues of ageing, disappointment and alienation in today's society. Within the domestic setting, visitors are uninvited guests, able to curl up in the architect's bed, recline on his sofa, or rifle through books placed to hint at the imagined events that could have taken place here. The installation examines interests that have abided throughout Elmgreen and Dragset's careers - those of redefining the way in which art is presented and experienced, issues around social models and how spaces and objects both inflict on and reflect our behavioural patterns. Victoria & Albert Museum until 2nd January.


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.

Leonardo da Vinci: Mechanics Of Man features the little known anatomical studies of the human body by 'the' Renaissance man, which were never published in his lifetime. The exhibition comprises 87 anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, including a detailed portrayal in red chalk of a child in the breech position; pencil drawings of the human skull; a series of cross sections of the human shoulder in motion; a set of views of the inner workings of the human hand; and a detailed drawing of the cardiovascular system, compiled in several stages, sketched first in red and then black chalk, with his fingerprints still visible on the paper. This body of work, driven by Leonardo's desire to be 'true to nature' saw him dissect some 30 corpses, from which he compiled hundreds of sheets of drawings of the human body, inventing biological drawing as he did so. However, his research stayed among his private papers until 1900, when the drawings were finally published and understood by the scientific world. Leonardo's work as an anatomist was deeply serious, incredibly detailed and hugely important, showing that as well as being a consummate painter and inventor, he was also a great scientist. Had they been published in his time, he would have been the most important figure ever to publish on human anatomy, and would be regarded now on par with Galileo or Newton. These drawings have been in the possession of the English monarch's Royal Collection since 1690, and are the largest surviving group of these works. The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until 10th November.

Opened Up: 200 Years Of The Hunterian Museum celebrates renowned collections of human anatomy and pathology as well as natural history and works of art that have been created over the last two centuries. The exhibition reveals those who took care of the collections, where and how they were displayed, who visited them, what role they play in surgical education today, and how these diverse objects have informed the medical world and fascinated illustrious visitors from medics to monarchs. It includes hidden objects brought out of storage and cutting edge medical models crafted by those working behind the scenes both then and now, continuing 200 years of medical museum tradition. Objects include an early anesthetic inhaler; a wild boar skull suffering from 'lumpy jaw' bone infection; Joseph Lister's original carbolic acid spray engine; a Red Admiral butterfly with dissected wing; and a photograph of an Edwardian charwoman cleaning one from an entire room full of human skulls.

Extinct comprises specimens and images of extinct and endangered animals. This features the remains of prehistoric giants, such as the woolly mammoth and the immense Megalodon shark, alongside creatures lost only a few decades ago, including the Tasmanian tiger. The display raises questions about human interaction with the natural world and highlights the plight of critically endangered species.

Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, until 9th November.