Love of all things Italian No.3: Art

I’ve said of this series, it’s beacuse “Italy is going through a tough time. and there’s little I can do to assuage their present troubles. What I can do is thank them for all the things they’ve given the world, and think good thoughts about them”.

I thank Italian culture for what they have given us. Today, the third in my series, it’s art. There’s so much to choose from. I could choose the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, or The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, but no, my choice is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. I’ve gazed at the painting in the Uffizi Gallery, and once seen, never forgotten.

Painting of the week No.24: Not one, but five Pieter de Hooch’s

Among the most famous and renowned painters in the Dutch Golden Age of painting of the 17th century are Johannes Vermeer, Rembrant, Frans Hals, and Pieter de Hooch.

The quiet townscape of peaceful domestic life as in Vermeer’s The Little Street [1657-58] is a prime example, and one of my favourite paintings. I can’t make it one of my paintings of the week as my rule is that I must have stood in front of it – I think there’s an exception somewhere in my paintings of the week.

There are similar works by Pieter de Hooch that I have gazed at in admiration. It’s these five de Hooch’s that are my subject this week. Why choose five works by de Hooch? Well, I saw two in the Wallace Collection a couple of months ago, and then two more when we visited Waddesdon Manor, and in listing these four I couldn’t leave out my favourite de Hooch, The Courtyard of a House in Delft, which is in the National Gallery.

Pronouncing Pieter de Hooch’s name is a struggle. We’re used to prouncing words with ‘oo’ as in hoot. We elongate the ‘oo’ sound. In prouncing de Hooch we’re tempted to follow that rule. But no, if you listen HERE, it’s more like an ‘o’ in hot.

The five de Hooch paintings are, with my photos below – click to expand:

More memories, and at last a Wikipedia entry is corrected

My choice for Painting of the Week in September 2009 I lamented the inaccuracy of the Wkipedia entry for Suerat’s Bathers at Asnières.

In the original Wikipedia, entry on the location of the painting, it stated that, “It was moved in 1961 to the National Gallery where it has remained since.”

In my blog post I said that was not correct. I’d frequently, while working in London in the early 1970’s, sat in front of it, while eating my sandwich lunch, when it was in the Courtauld Institute in Portman Square. I came to think of the painting as my own because it was the sole painting in a room, had a nice comfy bench on which to sit, and I never had anyone else with me while I was there. It’s huge painting, being 79″ x 118″, affording much to gaze at.

Why didn’t I edit the Wikipedia entry? Though I could’ve edited the entry, I did not know the history of the locations of the painting. Having recently visited the Wallace Collection, paintings were on my mind, so I thought I’d check on the Wkipedia entry. I checked on the edit history and was delighted to see an edit stating, “The painting was on view at the Courtauld Institute in 1970-73).”

Here’s the link in wikipedia to the correction. Pity that there’s now no mention of it having once been in the Courtauld Institute. Ah well, can’t have it all.


Great places to visit: The Wallace Collection, London

There’s a treasure house in London not visited by crowds. It’s The Wallace Collection, located in Manchester Square close to Selfridges in Oxford Street. I visited the collection on a recnt visit to London.

While my photos, below, focus on part of the art collection, as that’s what I enjoy, The Wallace Collection is home to world renown collections of medieval armour, furniture, sculpture, ceramics, clocks, and plenty more. Here’s the collection’s description of themselves in About Us.

The Wallace Collection is an internationally outstanding collection which contains unsurpassed masterpieces of paintings, sculpture, furniture, arms and armour and porcelain.

Built over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, it is one of the finest and most celebrated collections in the world.

So that it could be kept together and enjoyed by generations of visitors, the collection was given to the British Nation in 1897. It was an astonishing bequest and one of the greatest gifts of art works ever to be transferred into public ownership.

Today, our job is to maintain, research, and inspire the public to love and understand the Collection.

This is a not to be missed museum. Everywhere you look there’s something that amazes. For example, among the outstanding collection of swords and daggers, is THIS ONE, maybe the finest in the world.

An opportunity to visit artists’ studios

Surrey Artists’ Open Studios [SOAS] has 180 studios and 297 artists taking part in Surrey. The  event runs from 1st June to 16th June, at 11am to 5pm daily and Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8.30pm.

With artists in ceramics, mosaic, glass, photography, painting, sculpture, wood and more, there is sure to be art to please, appreciate, and to acquire. The SOAS programme booklet list the artists by region North Surrey, East, Central, South and West Surrey. Here’s the part of the North programme.

Surrey Heath Museum focus on the work of two remarkable Camberley people

On Monday this week, the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Dan Adams, opened new exhibition in Surrey Heath Museum – the life and work of artist Percy Harland Fisher. [Click on image to expand]

I’ve a favourite paining of his that is currently on show in the Museum. It’s The Washing Line, which is No.6 in my Painting of the Week.

Also in the museum is an exhibition of the work of noted local photographer Ron Francis. Well worth a visit to the museum to see some of the works of these two notable Camberley people.

Here are my photos of the official exhibition opening by the mayor.

New exhibitions at Surrey Heath Museum from 25 Jan to 9 March 2019

Surrey Heath Borough Council today announce that,

Surrey Heath Museum begins a packed programme of exhibitions for 2019 with the amazing work of a local craftsman and a renowned local society.

Spring Has Sprung features photographs by Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club, revealing the re-emergence of plant life and bird life as the earth warms up from the winter months. The beautiful white blankets of snowdrops and yellow daffodils in local woodlands, emerging vibrant purple crocuses plus the young offspring of swans and ducks make the exhibition a captivating collection of images we all recognise annually. There will be a specially selected ‘Picture of the week’.

Surrey Heath Recaptured – local artist Damion Hugh Davis recaptures the beauty of material found inside and outside his Camberley home, creating furniture and art work. This is a selling exhibition.

Children’s Activities – Linking into the exhibitions we have a number of special events for little (and not so little) ones.

  • Toddler Tuesdays – the last Tuesday in every month featuring toys and activities linked to the exhibitions (10.30am-12.30pm).
  • Spring Half Term (16 – 23 Feb), two special workshops, 11am-1pm and 1.30-3.30pm, £3. (booking in advance preferred);
  • Wed 20 Feb – Recycling Fun with Verity Parker (SHBC Recycling Officer)
  • Thur 30 Feb ‘Leather Working’ with Mick Bacon (Museum Staff).

Surrey Heath Museum & Gallery, 3 Obelisk Way, Camberley, GU15 3SJ Tel: (01276) 23771


Open 11am to 4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
Admission Free

Painting of the week No.22: The Grand Canal of Venice by Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet, 1832 – 1883, the French modernist painter became, in later life, the elder statesman of the Impressionists.

Manet drew his subject matter from real life. His use of vibrant colour and a freedom in the style of painting made him an important precursor of Impressionism movement.

This painting, one of a number of The Grand Canal of Venice. was painted in 1875. The striking composition of a gondola and gondolier is at the centre of the painting, combined with the juxtaposition of colourful wooden poles, giving the painting a dramatic effect.

Painting of the week No.21: The Beach at Trouville by Claude Monet [1870]

I haven’t posted a Painting of the Week for over a year. Bit silly of me to say painting of the week, which sort of indicates that there will be a painting of the week every week. Much like my Photo of the Week, which at least I’ve got up to number 45.

Never mind. It’s done now. The reason for the paucity of paintings of the week is that I said that to qualify I must have seen the painting. I’ve given up on that idea. From here on I’ll pick a painting from Art UK, which aims to create a complete record of the national collection of paintings in public ownership and make that accessible to the public.

My Painting of the Week number 21 is The Beach at Trouville by Claude Monet in the National Gallery, London.

Monet was the founder of the impressionist art movement, a style of painting en plein air [in the open air], using natural light, with visible paint strokes, vibrant colour and tones, with unusual composition angles.

I like The beach at Trouville because of it’s striking angular composition, the the contrast between the two ladies, the dramatic brushwork of the light catching the blue dress, and particularly the blue parasol. I could go on, though there’s erudition to be had in The Guardian’s Portrait of the Week about the painting.

Monet, Claude; The Beach at Trouville; The National Gallery, London;

Photo Quiz No.49: Answer: Seated Man sculpture on Woking Station

The 49th Photo Quiz asked where this statue could be seen? It’s a sculpture in bronze and cor-ten steel by Sean Henry, entitled Seated Man, 2011. It can be seen on platform 1 in Woking railway station.

I saw it from platform 2, while waiting for a London train, and was initially mildly discomfited by it. Had to visit the statue to find out more about it.

Below the photo of the statue, I’ve posted a photo on the adjacent plaque that gives more information. Click on image to expand.