Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A Very Big Adventure

The last time we left the house other than to visit a very few local friends and family or to buy food was on March 9 to attend a most enjoyable Needlemakers' function: see Last Gasp of Freedom

Apart from the real live face-to-face contact with friends and family, the two cancelled holidays, what we have missed most have been concerts and visits to art galleries.


Some weeks ago we booked to visit the National Gallery Titian exhibition “Titian, Love Desire and Death”.  It is the first time that several of the paintings have been shown together since the late 1500s.  I cannot fault the National Gallery for the organisation.  Everyone was wearing masks and socially distancing, the gallery was comfortably busy, quite a few families with children which is always a joy.

We drove in and paid not only the congestion charge but the parking fees (eeek). I think I might risk the Underground next time as I believe it is not busy.  However, I needed to return my library books to the Barbican Library so it was useful to be in the car!

Perhaps I have been locked down too long but while I could admire the artistry and the exhibition is very well curated, I found myself very offended by the subject matter of several paintings. Titian called the paintings the poesie because he drew on Classical poetry for their subject matter – these were his visual poems.  His patron, Philip of Habsburg, King of Spain, gave him total freedom. I would imagine this was every artists dream.

Of course this is Greek Myth, classical poetry, Ovid - but why is it OK for a woman to be raped by a God?  Danae is impregnated by Jupiter (he enters her chamber as a golden shower!!); Jupiter rapes Callisto; he carries Europa to Crete where he rapes her too.  Yes there are other paintings but these annoyed me.


There are three “tours” around the gallery after the exhibition and I rejoiced and remembered how wonderful the National Gallery is.  I have nothing against nudity – the exquisite Toilet of Venus by Velazquez. I rejoiced seeing Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Rubens portrait of the family of Jan Breughel and on through past the Turners into the Impressionists and my equilibrium was restored.  The Gallery is also looking stunning.  

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