Saturday 18 July 2020

The Swing, Fragonard
Can't honestly say that I woke up yesterday thinking, 'Great day for the Wallace Collection!" - oh, to be able to go places on a whim! - but I'd booked, so I was going, heatwave or not! Advance planning doesn't come naturally ... but nor does staying at home! Turns out that travelling by Tube into London is rather more comfortable than using the local buses which, after weeks of being like a private chauffeur service, are getting quite crowded.
If I'm completely honest, what I really, really enjoyed was a mooch down Marylebone High Street looking at the shops, browsing in Daunt Books, even stopping at Pret for an iced coffee. I'm really enjoying London's new normal ... enough people out and about to create the buzz of being in town, enjoying the sunshine and lunching at pavement tables, but no crowds and not much traffic. And everyone seems quite cheery and glad to be doing whatever's available.
So - if it's open, I'm going! The Wallace Collection - which is never crowded - seemed about as un-busy as any normal weekday, except that the cafe was closed. (They're only allowing 125 people per day but there's no problem booking.)
I used to visit here a lot as a child and loved all that froufrou Rococo stuff - but my tastes have changed and a little Fragonard and Marie Antoinette goes a long way.
Instead, I'm drawn to all those Protestant domestic virtues that I lack in real life!

Woman peeling Apples, de Hooch
Love that quiet satisfaction at peeling the apple all in one go!

The Lace Maker (Caspar Netscher) 

And this ... the exquisite detail of the lacemaker's cap, and her well-worn shoes, even the mussel shells and the odd straw left behind by her broom.

Though I also warmed to the domestic chaos of this cuckolded father wetting the baby's head.

Celebrating the Birth (Jan Steen)

Needless to say, I've already booked my first day at the V&A!

Thursday 9 July 2020

Henri Fantin-Latour in the 1870s ...

And fashion photographer Nick Knight with extraordinary patience and Instagram.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

I have to confess that I've never actually read it. Not that you could ever accuse me of gaining fulfilment from housework! But I've greatly enjoyed binge-watching Mrs America, with Tracey Ullman as the irascible Friedan and Cate Blanchett quite brilliant as Phyllis Schlafly, right-wing   warrior housewife, mother of six and scourge of the Women's Libbers: think manic Mrs Thatcher, in pearls and cemented hair-do, meets Mrs Mary Whitehouse with a generous dollop of religious fervour thrown into the mix. And to this day equal rights for women are not enshrined in the US Constitution.
Gloria Steinem, now 86 (oh, to look like that if I survive to 86!) wasn't impressed by the series. She has a point that the media love to stoke a catfight between women. But I still think it's a riveting slice of feminist history from an era that I lived through, but was probably too young and silly to appreciate. (Hangs head, but I used to flick through Spare Rib in the newsagent's - and buy Cosmo!)
Diana and Actaeon, Titian
My Super Saturday was spent in the National Gallery rather than the pub, so I'm culturally rebooted! First stop was the Titian exhibition that opened three days before lockdown.
Which might explain my cry of "Oooh, that's straight out of Ovid's Metamorphoses," at the sight of mermaids, goddesses and nymphs in this exquisite film launching Dior's A/W collection today. Mary Beard would be proud of me!
 Looking at the face-masks in this video, it all seems to have been made during lockdown.
Such beautiful, beautiful dresses!
Hylas and the Nymphs, John William Waterhouse

Of course, this sprang to mind, too.

Monday 6 July 2020

I can never hear this without crying ... every time. What a genius he was.