Category: Exercises

Madame de Pompadour by Francois Boucher

François Boucher [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons   I saw this at the Wallace Collection and was fortunate in that soon after I had seen it there was a Gallery talk by a member of the Wallace Collection staff on the painting, so I was able to listen to the talk. What …

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Prince Baltasar Carlos in Silver by Diego Velazquez

The aspect that struck me most about this painting was the eyes of the young Prince. Close-up they don’t seem to have any particular detail, but when you step away from the painting they seem to be quite piercing – the dominant force of the portrait. My notes on the painting can be found here: Prince …

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Venice; the Grand Canal from the Palazzo Foscari to the Carita by Canaletto

  There is a room in the Wallace Collection containing a number of paintings by Canaletto. As well as this scene, there is another painting, on the opposite wall, which is also a scene of the Grand Canal, but looking in the opposite direction. It is interesting to study a painting when it is surrounded …

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The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals

This is a very well-known painting, but it seems that it is mainly in seeing the original that you come to appreciate the skill of the artist. The embroidery on the clothing is rendered in the most intricate detail. But it is also by  examining it close-up that you can see, from the swagger and …

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Perseus and Andromeda by Titian

  On a previous OCA History of Art course I had made an annotation of Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne which is in the National Gallery, so I found it interesting to look at another of his depictions of a classical myth. This time is the story of Perseus and Andromeda. The sense of movement and …

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A Dance to the Music of Time – Nicolas Poussin

    It was interesting to consider the allusions in this painting the dancers representing the four seasons the seasons dancing to the music of Time Bacchus facing in and out Old Bacchus facing the present and young Bacchus facing the future I was fascinated to observe the painting and try to analyse it. Fortunately …

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Hornbill

                  The Sainsbury Centre catalogue describes this as “an exceptional sculpture of the Papuan hornbill”. It also details the problem of trying to interpret the combination of figures found in this carving “the relationship between the hornbill, frigate bird (on the back), two skeletal fish and prone …

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Mask

  This appears as quite a scary mask when you first approach it – perhaps its original purpose! It is from Northern New Ireland which I had not heard of until I visited Sainsbury Centre to see the mask. I have now learned that it is close to (if not part of) Papua New Guinea. …

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Standing Maori Figure

According to the Sainsbury Centre catalogue, these figures may “represent deified ancestors” and that they date to the period prior to missionary activity.” The catalogue also details how this is not a complete figure as “it has been emasculated and the feet are damaged at the front and back”. The hair is also missing from …

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Olmec Figure

Apparently many visitors to the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts consider this figure to be a baby (sometimes even a Chinese baby) because of the proportions and facial features. Some scholars have suggested that the head shape may “represent natural or intentional cranial deformation of infants”. I had not heard of the Olmec people …

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