Having had access to the National Gallery, which houses some 15,000 paintings, sculptures and objects of Art for free was a real treat, similarly to what had happened not long ago in Scotland. I do personally feel the need of having "Art" in my life and was therefore particularly happy to be able to stroll around the National Gallery 's multiple exhibition rooms for endless hours.
I was allowed to take pictures of most of the paintings being exhibited, which ended up being an additional treat I was thankful for, despite the fact that the very few I took can't but be considered but a sample of the invaluable artistic works I managed to see.
The denial of St. Peter (1610s)
A music party (1615-18) by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656) - Having been one of the most gifted followers of Caravaggio, Honthorst's painting is not only indebted to the Italian painter's work in terms of subject but also its strong contrast between light and dark.
Peasant Wedding (1620) by Pieter Brueghel, the younger (1564-1637). This painting mocks the behaviour of peasants during a marriage feast. They are seen drinking, dancing, flirting and even fighting over a money pouch.
The village school (1663-65) by Jan Havicksz. Steen (1626-1679). Having been one of the key painters of the Dutch Golden Age Steen provides a humorous insight into Dutch schools of the epoch, when teachers were poorly paid and had a bad reputation.
A lady writing a letter, with her maid (c. 1670) by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). Considered one of the greatest Dutch painters Vermeer specialised in stilled impressions of the every day life. This painting is among the most accomplished compositions on the theme of letter writing.
Portrait of Doña Antónia Zarate (1775-1811) by Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Goya painted this famous Spanish actress seated on the yeallow sofa he kept in his studio, capturing a sense of unease in her eyes. This work was ruthlessly cut from its frame when stolen in 1986 and later restored to its former appearance sevn years later.
Parody of Raphael's school of Athens (1751) by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Having been commissioned by Joseph Heny this painting re-captures the caricatured parody of Raphael's fresco in the Vatican stanze. He is seen reclining on the steps in the role of the cynic Diogenes. At the centre is his uncle, Joseph Leeson, the future Earl of Milltown, who holds up an eyeglass in the role of Plato. James Lowther and his son are depicted behind him leading a musical trio. on the left is Viscount Charlemont.
Young woman in white reading (1873) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). In this work Renoir depicts a fashionably dressed woman reading a novel. Renoir's loose brushwork demonstrates his close association with Monet at the time, while the monochrome tones relate to his interest in the work of Manet and the Spanish Golden Age artists.
The Gleaners (1854) by Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (1827-1906). Known for his scenes of contemporary rural life this Realist painter's composition depicts the traditional custom of gleaning, whereby women and children were allowed to collect the remnants of the wheat harvest. The artist's future wife, Elodie, is said to have have been the model for the standing figure at the right foreground of the composition.
Stella in a flowered hat (c. 1907) by Kees van Dongen (1897-1968). Known for his paintings of the Parisian nightlife Van Dongen most likely painted her one of the women on the fringes of polite society who frequented the Cafes and Bars of Montmartre.
Lady on the terrace (1898) by Paul Signac (1863-1935). Having decided to become a painter following an exhibition of Claude Manet's work in 1880, Signac along with Seurat developed a style of painting that came to be known as Pointillism. Signac's wife is said to have modelled for this scene, which is set on the terrace of the artist's villa in Saint Tropez.
The Banks of the Canal du Loing at Saint-Mammés (1888) by Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). As is typical of Sisley's late works a broad expanse of sky seems to dominate the composition. In order to convey atmospheric effect he applied paint to the canvas with small brush strokes of varying texture and intensity.
Brother and Sister (modeled in 1890 and cast in 1915) by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).
(to be continued)