Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Agatha Bas, Rembrandt, 1641
Last week, after a trying morning, I was looking to escape for a couple of hours. So where's soothing and peaceful, no crowds, no phones allowed, just a handful of art lovers absorbing some of the most ravishing pantings in London ... let's aim straight for the top and spend an afternoon at Buckingham Palace where this exhibition of Dutch paintings is just one breathtakingly stunning work after another. (And yes, I do think they should be in the National Gallery, but there's no question that the Queen's Gallery - child-free, braying middle-class mother-free, school-trip free, and only the nicest kind of tourist - is a far more pleasing experience.)
So sail up the staircase, past the Christmas tree and look what's there ... Rembrandt's Agatha Bas for starters and, oh, this is simply exquisite close-up. You want to reach in and touch it, her fan, her locket, those folds of lace, and look at that mauve-gold petticoat she's wearing underneath. This was bought by George IV.

Then there's Rembrandt's mother, which was a gift to Charles I (the first Rembrandt ever to leave the Dutch republic).
A Girl Chopping Onions, Gerrit Dou, 1646
I loved this great dish of chopped onions ... and wondered if artist and model were weeping, it must have taken so long to paint such refined detail. (Actually, it's all about sex and onions were an aphrodisiac.)

An Elderly Couple in an Arbour, Adriaen von Ostade, c1670
I admit. I fell for the waffles. There are simply not enough waffles in European art.

Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman, 'The Music Lesson', Vermeer
And then Vermeer, and my favourite de Hooch ...

A Courtyard in Delft at Evening, A Woman Spinning, Pieter de Hooch, 1657
Can't you just feel the heat of this balmy evening?

Card Players in a Sunlit Room , de Hooch, 1658
And feel those rough tiles under your feet? Both of these were acquired by George IV.

An Old Man and a Girl at a Vegetable and Fish Stall, Willem van Mieris, 1732
And because I do have a penchant for cakes in art, look at these slabs of shiny gingerbread - because that's what I'm making tomorrow. (There's gingerbread figurines on the shelves, if you look closely, and I think those ducks/swans on sticks are gingerbread, too, which is giving me ideas.)


Anonymous said...

George IV may have been a rotten king, but he had good taste in art! I love these pictures, thanks for posting.

mary said...

I was really envying him, Callmemadam - that so much was on the market and that he had the cash! So many paintings labelled 'acquired by George IV!' It's a lovely exhibition if you get the chance.

Cosy Books said...

Had no idea that waffles have such a long history...and my cup of tea seems a bit lonely now for want of a piece of gingerbread. Glad you found your place of refuge - wish I could have been there, Mary.

Sue said...

What a lovely Christmas treat, thank you Mary. Love the waffles and the onion chopping.

Sue said...

I had not heard of this gallery until the other day when I read about the exhibition somewhere else. It is open over Christmas too, well, some days, and I thought we might give it a whirl. I really love London over that dead-ish period the last week in December.I saw some of these when they came to Cambridge a year or so ago but would happily see them again anytime. Thank you for writing such a great blog, Mary. Happy Christmas.

mary said...

Thanks, Sue - both Sues! Yes, I'd also seen several of these before - but always nice to see them again. If you're in the area, non-QuInce-Tree-Sue , it's always worth a rummage in the Red Cross shop on Buckingham Palace Road - it always makes me giggle to think of the Queen nipping out with a binbag of cast-offs.
If only I'd known, Darlene - I've made about 80 gingerbread men this afternoon and could easily have spared one!

Toffeeapple said...

I have enjoyed this post Mary, thank you so much. Dutch painters are amazing aren't they? Did you spot the rat in the bottom right corner of the last image?

mary said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Toffeeapple. Yes, I saw the rat - must be all the gingerbread crumbs!

Lucille said...

Why have I never been? You are such a good guide. Many thanks once again.

mary said...

They have some very good exhibitions there, Lucille. Rather a grotty walk down Buckingham Palace Road to get there - I'm sure the Queen must get fed up with all the traffic and building work.