Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Da Vinci’s drawings grace the Queen’s Gallery

The Queen owns priceless art treasures and thanks to her ancestors’ collecting habits the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.

The Royal Collection contains the greatest collection of da VInci drawings, a group of 550 drawings that have remained together since his death in 1519 and rarely shown so they are in excellent condition.  At his death in 1519, Da VInci left all his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi who kept them faithfully until his own death when the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired them and mounted them in at least 2 albums. By 1630 one of the albums had reached England into the collection of the Earl of Arundel until around 1670 when Charles ll acquired it, perhaps as a gift from the Earl but ‘acquired’ is a little vague in the royal context! King Charles II was keen buyer and acquirer of art and his interest in these drawings was a master stroke.  In the 1900s they were removed from the album but luckily it was kept and preserved and here it is, on proud display.  Its contents remain an unbroken group as they were in 1519.

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

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Face to face with a golden tiger at the Queen’s Gallery!

All that glitters is definitely gold at the new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, London. One stunning piece which keeps drawing you back is the golden head of a tiger which stares out at you with its rock crystal eyes  Tipu Sultan, an Indian rule,  said that it was ‘better to live a single day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep’ and used the tiger as a symbol of his power, decorating his throne with gold heads and as a motif on his guards’ uniforms. This magnificent beast dates from the late 18th century and although the throne that he was part of was broken up, his head survived and was given to William lV so now part of the Queen’s Collection in Windsor.
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It’s a good year for Georges!

George is a popular royal name and we have a potential future King George, baby Prince George, making a big impact on the world. Britain has had 6 King Georges so far and one day he will most likely be number 7!  This year London is celebrating all things George as it’s 450 years since George 1st ascended to the British throne in 1714 and started off the Georgian era.  Many of the major museums in London are holding exhibitions which are marking this event and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about how the first King George came to the throne and how he and his descendants lived.  Continue reading

Two great exhibitions in one with thanks to our Queen Elizabeth!

There is a gallery at Buckingham Palace called, unsurprisingly, the Queen’s Gallery, which I’ve visited several times and have seen some excellent exhibitions including Scott and Shackleton in 2011. This year they have excelled themselves by putting on 2 shows at the same time and I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview. 

The posters are intriguing and when I delved into the early publicity I was hooked – how was the gallery going to make sense for us of a 17th century little know Italian artist and 100 plus brand new works from the Royal Academy? As the curator, Martin Clayton, said: “On the surface these two exhibitions might seem very different but they are surprisingly complementary. Both show the work of artists who have pushed the boundaries”.

The Castiglione show is title ‘Lost Genius’ because his work has been out of the public gaze for so long and also because his tempestuous life lost him success and recognition during his lifetime. His paintings are wonderful and, as we learned, he painted with oils directly on to paper and you can see how the oils have bled through to the reverse. He was the first artist to use monotype as a method, so called because only one print is made from each engraving (except for rare circumstances)

 

This poster greets you with the self portrait faintly printed
Self portrait print

 

The main exhibition room
How the work displayed

 

Sacred and Profane Love  Mid 1630s

 

The Crossing of the Red Sea mid to late 1630s
The front of one painting

 

The reverse of the same painting
Omnia vanitas Early to mid 1650s

 

Castiglione was born in 1609 in Genoa, a cosmopolitan city that probably made him open to a wider world and new possibilities. He began in the pastoral tradition using oil on paper but moved onto Rome and looked to reinvent himself, examining other artists’ work and incorporating their techniques, finding he was most keen on Poussin. 

Back in Genoa he was poised to be a truly great artist through his painting and print- making but his temper got the better of him (as had happened previously in his career) and he had to flee his home town in disguise!

He found stability back in Rome, continued his work and introduced some colour into his paintings, as we see in the later part of the exhibition, but he died at 55 years of age.  His work was appreciated after his death but by the 19th century his popularity had waned and his work has been little seen on this country until this new show at the Queen’s Gallery. The Queen has a major collection of his work, normally held in Windsor Castle.

An unusual 2nd print from a monotype  Mid 1650s

 

Later painting when Castliglione introduced some colour

 Quite overwhelmed by part one of the exhibition we then moved onto Gifted, which gave us a wonderful tour around the work of many of the best artists in this country. The Royal Academy has a long tradition of giving gifts to the monarch since they were founded in 1768.  For the Diamond Jubilee the Royal Academy of Arts asked each of its academicians to send in one piece of their work on paper and over one hundred pieces were submitted.  Seven red silk covered boxes of the finest contemporary British graphic art arrived and the staff had the privilege of opening them, not knowing what would be inside. 

I was bowled over by the Queen’s Gallery’s first contemporary exhibition where one great piece was hung next to another and another – luckily the curator’s job was not to select but to display them all to their best advantage.  It was a dazzling who’s who from so many familiar names doing what they do so well but also a chance to see work on paper from artists more well know for other media. 

The silk covered boxes

 

Anish Kapoor in 2 D!

 

Sir Anthony Caro away from his sculptures

 

Lord Foster – a School for Sierra Leone

 

Grayson Perry

 

Anthony Gormley

 

Tracey Emin

 

Professor Richard Wilson having a bit of fun!

 

Professor Michael Sandle

 

Professor Chris Orr – View from Cleopatra’s Needle

 

Professor Maurice Cockrill

Turning back as we left I spotted the very inviting, and rather over the top, entrance closed until the grand opening the following day.  Both exhibitions are well worth a visit so do put them on your list – and there’s a great shop for Christmas presents on the way out!

Let’s see what next week has in store….

Bye for now.
Sue
@itsyourlondon
www.itsyourlondon.co.uk