By ten (the opening hour for the Museum) we were outside its main entrance. Once inside I was astounded by the interior decoration of the Edwardian Baroque building housing the Museum and couldn't help photographing it, particularly the biplane replica hanging from the ceiling of the main hall, said to have been made in 1963 for the film "Those magnificent men in their flying machines".
Having realised we would most probably not be able to visit the whole Museum galleries in the morning we decided on venturing onto the second floor where French Art and old master Italian and Dutch paintings were in display, as part of the permanent collection, not wothout having first photographed an oil and pencil on paper painting by Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) called The Hands, which caught my attention on the ground floor.
The painter is said to have made her hospital drawings after having watched surgeons in the operating theatre when her own daughter was being treated. In this picture the surgeons'hands stand out in a prayer-like and peaceful pose.
Bronze bust of Kathleen Garman (left), Sir Jacob Epstein's long-term mistress and muse, whom the sculptor (1880-1959) would marry after the death of his wife. I came across an account of the making of this work worth of note "a trembling eagerness of life pulsates throughout the work ... a quartet of harmonies ... head, shoulders, body and hands like music." Madame Récamier's marble bust (right) after Joseph Chinard celebrating the beauty of the hostess known to have great wit and charm.
The pianist by Eugene Carrière (1849-1906) - oil on paper laid on canvas. The almost monochromatic grey aplette and soft focus contribute to the naturalistic recreation of light , space and colour according to specialists.
La Frette by Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944) - oil on canvas. This late (neo-) Impressionist scene was painted from a high vantage point on the river bank at the village of la Frette on the Seine.
Saint Jerome in a landscape (detail) by Giovanni di Niccolo Mansueli ( -1526) - oil on canvas. According to Christian legend when he was in the wilderness Saint Jerome removed a thorn from a lion's paw. His compassion towards the creature was interpreted as an act of Christian charity.
Andrea del Verrochio (1435-1488) - Madonna and child with angels - painted stucco and wood.
Madonna and the child (1509) by the Flemish School - oil on panel.
Giovanni Bellini - The descent of Christ into limbo (detail) - oil on vellum on panel. Christ is depicted in a radiant white mantle, trampling down the gates of hell as he enters the abyss, from which the naked figures of Adam and Eve have already been liberated, whilst another man cringes at the cacophony made by the trumpeting demons.
Il Cerano (1575-1632) - The flight into Egypt - oil on canvas. The quiet drama of the scene painted by the well considered Milanese painter of the 17th century is created by the extreme contrasts of light and dark, as well as the nearly life-size depiction of the Holy Family.
William Larkin attributed (1585-1619) - Portrait of an unknown lady - oil on panel. Although little is known about this painter it is certain that he worked for patrons connected with the Royal Court over a decade.
Cornelies de Zeeu - Portrait of a young man (1565) - oil on panel.
Jan Steen (1626-1679) - Kitchen interior - oil on panel. A lascivious gesture towards a serving maid with a man in the shadows laughing behind the scene.
Dutch School - The denial of Peter (about 1630) - oil on canvas. A young woman is depicted pointing her finger to accuse Peter of being a follower of Christ. This highly admired picture has been associated with the early work of the Dutch artist Gabriel Metsu, although the question of attribution has not yet been satisfactorily resolved.
(To be continued)