Paintings etc @ the V&A

10 January 2020 visit of
RAPHAEL CARTOONS before they are taken away for refurbishment,
CONSTABLE and TURNER paintings
views walking through the Museum

also a delicious lunch in the bright Member’s Room where in January vegans are given extra treats

walking to the Cartoons
walking through the SOUTH ASIA and ISLAMIC MIDDLE EAST rooms
‘in 16th century ceramic production in Iran was modest scale but when capital moved to Isfahan around 1600, the production of luxury dishes and wall tiles in a wide variety of styles and techniques rapidly increased’
‘these monochrome wares reference the highly esteemed Chinese celadon wares imported in earlier centuries but the bright turquoise gives it away as an Iranian copy

VAM Bottle 17th cent Iran
VAM Dish 17th century Iran

chiselled sandstone screens look like delicate lacework

VAM Agra, India Pink sandstone carved and pierced 19th century

on display a vast array of beautiful rugs and textiles, some intricately woven with jewellery
such extraordinary beauty
made for men, women and children!

these paintings are now considered masterpieces, but at the time they were made they mere sketches, of little value other than as an image for the weavers to copy. The tapestry being the artwork
some colours have faded, in this the colours can be seen better in the reflection in the water
still extraordinary
they are all in the V&A collection online

VAM Raphael cartoons The miraculous draught of fishes Cartoon for tapestry about 1515

East Cowes Castle – The Regatta starting for their moorings
described by John Ruskin as “one of the highest pieces of intellectual art existing”
it was painted for the Royal Yacht Club for the races at the Isle of Wight
Turner’s depiction of the sky always brings to mind the divine
but there also seems to be a ‘head’ facing the lone person in the barge in the foreground on the left which I found intriguing

VAM JMW Turner East Cowes Castle The Regatta (1827-28)

Full scale study for ‘the Hay Wain'(ca. 1821)
‘to establish general balance of composition and colours
this is approximately 160 x 210cm with frame!
the size and skill are phenomenal

VAM John Constable Full Scale Study for The Hay Wain ca. 1821

Another full scale study is by Constable on display is for The Leaping Horse. The actual painting is at the Royal Academy who have a full description on their website including the detail that the “local Suffolk barge horses were specially trained to jump over three feet high barriers erected along the tow path in order to keep the cattle from straying”… though here “the horse is in fact leaping over a crossing which takes the horse and rider from Essex into his native Suffolk.” “John Constable depicts a scene in Suffolk where he spent his ‘careless boyhood’. He claimed that the Suffolk countryside ‘made him a painter'”

VAM John Constable Full scale study for the leaping horse


The Vale of Health painted 1820 -1822, interesting to see Hampstead Heath, busy even then

Hampstead Heath – Branch of Hill Pond (1828) painted after a storm
Hampstead Heath at its best!

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Ground (1823)
‘one of few commissioned works, the trees framing the Cathedral suggest symbolic level of interpretation unusual for John Constable
painted for his friend John Fisher

The Three Fates – The Triumph of Death
The VAM website describes: The three fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, draw out and cut the thread of Life, represent Death in this tapestry, as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. This is the third subject in Petrarch’s poem The Triumphs. First, Love triumphs; then Love is overcome by Chastity, Chastity by Death, Death by Fame, Fame by Time and Time by Eternity.

VAM The Three Fates 1510-20 The Triumph of Death

The Triumph of Eternity over Time
“This is a fragment from a larger tapestry, from a series based on the poem I Trionfi (The Triumphs), written by the Italian poet Petrach between 1352 and 1374. The poem described a series of allegorical visions, and this scene represented the Triumph of Eternity over Time.

St Jerome and St Gregory accompany the chariot of Eternity. This is the last of the series of Triumphs, and in the complete scene, known from other examples, the chariot rolls over the bodies of all the vanquished: Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time. This fragment includes female figures representing two of the Fates, Clotho and Lachesis, crushed beneath the chariot. (In mythology the Fates controlled the span of human life; Clotho was the spinner, Lachesis was the drawer of lots, and Atropos represented the inevitable end to life).”

VAM The Triumph of Eternity over Time

To me it would make more sense to see the victories by Love, Chastity, Death, Fame and Time as circular, with the circle beginning again by Love vanquishing Time and so on, whereas Eternity prevails not by vanquishing but by holding them, within Eternity they can all exist and continue existing. This is why Eternity in a sense vanquishes them all, but it is an interesting story!

All the above and more are on the V&A website

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World @ the V&A

This exhibition seems to me a celebration of human imagination and ingenuity
beautifully displayed throughout, making the cleverest use of the space available, this exhibition in The Sainsbury Gallery is full of extraordinary examples of cars, starting with the beautiful E Type Jaguar just before the entrance.

Three examples from the V&A website

my notes from the visit on 29 November 2019:

Inspired by the East – how the Islamic world influenced western art @ The British Museum

notes taken at visit on Friday 15 November 2019

Interest in the area because it was birthplace of Christianity
Vehicle for early positive interaction is Ottoman Empire

Copies were made of Ottoman artefacts, some accurate copies some only inspired by

Two beautiful examples of ceramic, large basin from Egypt/ Syria and Persian bowl, the ceramic copies are modelled on inlaid metalworking of the 1300’s

‘European craftworkers found Arabic inscriptions appealing, also the distinctive pear shape of mosque lamps’, some examples of lamps and ‘Persian Blue’ Persian Safavid (1650-1720)
‘Rediscovered techniques of gilding and enamelling caused a revolution in glass decorating’ eg Beaker and Stoppered Jar (1914-1916)

Glazed and gilded ceramics eg Veneto (1629) and Italian plate ‘might have been made to respond to taste for Ottoman ceramics. The intricate flowers and leaves can be seen in a near-contemporary Ottoman glazed and gilded ceramic plate'(1600-1625) the two look similar

Tiles (1850)
‘Advances in industry allowed them to be mass produced. Developments in sanitation and healthcare meant they were valued as easily cleaned surfaces. This meant an interest in re-creating Middle Eastern and North African interiors, often imaginatively:
– smoking rooms
– steam baths
– Islamic style tiles from floor to ceiling
Ottoman designs, directly copied or influenced colour schemes eg RMS Titanic cooling room of their Turkish baths (1908 picture)’

More examples of beautiful tiles eg 1. relief moulded and glazed ceramic: France (1880) La Faiencerie de Longwy 2. printed and glazed ceramic UK (1890) Maw & Co.

Alhambra model
fortified palace of Granada 1350 built towards the end of Muslim rule in Southern Spain
model created possibly:
– to assist repairs of the palace
– for souvenirs
– to teach art and design

1600 – 1799 Candlesticks very large gilt copper from Turkey

Other areas of influence include music and literature, examples given are Aida, Aladdin and 1001 nights or Arabian Nights

‘Images of Muslims engaging with their faith
– at prayer
– on Haji pilgrimage
– studying in madrasa school
such depictions of religious certainty may also reflect a response to the anxieties of the time. European society and morality were in a state of flux under pressure from industrialisation and secularisation’
eg men on prayer rugs in the middle of the desert

some examples of small prayer rugs

this felt to me like a brief exploration of a vast subject and a valuable contribution to our better understanding of the origin of a lot of artistic if sometimes mundane items (like rugs, ceramics and literature) in our lives, which can only deepen our appreciation and enrich our experience of them

Mary Quant @ V&A

visited on Wednesday 16 October 2019 and Friday 25 October 2019

This exhibition brings together a beautiful selection of clothes and memorabilia from the years of Mary Quant’s influence on the world of fashion and the way people, especially women, could feel about themselves. Some lent to the V&A by private individuals, giving the exhibition an intimacy which seemed to me to continue the way she presented herself. In films she spoke of her ideas and aspirations: clothes, she mentioned, were meant to make a woman

vam Quant and Alexander

– be noticed
– feel sexy
– feel good

Bringing this sense of wellness to a mass market, through the way a person could look, seemed to have informed her choices throughout her career.

Mary Quant born 1930, Blackheath, to Welsh parents,
longed to train in high fashion,
set up Bazaar, shop in King’s Road

looking for exciting wholesale garments to stock in Bazaar

vam Mary Quant sketch and wool pinafore dress and A-line skirt

bought materials from Harrods and adapted Butterick patterns to her liking, for instance pyjama dress, featured in Harpers Bazaar magazine in 1955
Saturday evening was her time for window dressing

inspiration from schoolgirl uniforms: dropped waist pinafore, pinafore pleats

‘borrowing from the boys’ Mary Quant drew inspiration from gents suits and military uniforms –  high necked dresses, large buttons, perhaps and large playful ties?
some dress names referred directly to the inspiration, for instance:
‘Butchers striped dress’ in blue and white stripes with narrow orange edging
‘Bank of England dress’ in striped twill, formal tailoring
‘Sailor dress’ revived for women in narrow blue or red stripes

vam Mary Quant pinafore

Mary Quant’s simple shapes made the most of patterns and textures of woven wool
Mary Quant’s focus on design was evident in every aspect of her work, from the design of her carrier bag with very large lettering to the emblematic daisy and throughout her collection.

She seemed to be looking for the perfect design which according to her needed to be functional, sexy and attract attention as well as being mass producible.

vam Mary Quant 3 minidresses

This latter aspect seemed to lead her towards jersey dresses in multiple designs which the customer could vary according to preference: round collar, high collar, long sleeve, zip closure, pockets

Innovative materials:
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

vam Mary Quant the wet look

She said she was bewitched by the ‘super shiny man made stuff in shrieking colours’
needed specialist machinery to manufacture
collaborated with Aligator Rainwear to procure commercially viable range of Mary Quant PVC raincoats in 1965

vam Mary Quant jersey minidresses

Mary Quant discovered a new type of wool jersey, heat bonded to acetate, available in the brightest colours, previously used for underwear, rugby and football kits

Mary Quant revolutionised the textile industry and further developed this, bringing the new idea from America of intimate apparel, jersey loungewear, to be worn only at home

Her influence was extensive and many of her designs seem to me still perfectly viable today!