Saturday, 1 February 2014

Edinburgh, the enlightenment walk with Stuart Usher (the last part) - The National Gallery of Scotland - The 25th of January 2014 (early afternoon)


We were extremely surprised to find out that we didn't have to pay any entrance fee for the National Gallery of Scotland. That was actually the first time I happened to have free access to an Art Museum.

In one of the  Gallery exhibition rooms some school children were "re-enacting" one of the paintings, which I found rather interesting.


Our short visit took us onto the ground floor where we had the possibility of admiring just a few paintings (some of which I managed to photograph), once Stuart had to get prepared for his afternoon tour and we had to try to have a proper meal before it was too late.

Venus rising from the sea (Venus Anadyomeneby Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) - about 1512-1514.

"According to the legend, the Goddess Venus was born fully grown from the sea and landed at Paphos on Cyprus. Here she strides through the shallows having floated ashore."

The Holy family with a palm tree (detail) by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) - about 1506-1507.

"Joseph is accorded unusual prominence as he offers the infant Jesus a handful of flowers."

Christ blessing, the Saviour of the world by Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) - about 1600.

"The half length of Christ looking out directly at us with his right hand raised in blessing is a traditional Byzantine icon painting by el Greco, whose extensive use of white conveys the idea of Divine Light. Rather than having included a book of scripture the artist decided to include a crystal-like sphere or globe representing the world."

A study of a head- Saint Ambrose by Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

"Though being a preparatory study the head of Saint Ambrose for a grand altarpiece probably painted from a live model looks like a  finished work."

The Feast of Herod by Sir Peter Paul Rubens - about 1635-1638.

"Herodias 'daughter, Salomé having been granted a wish chose to ask for the head of John Baptist. Rubens conveys the dramatic moment in which she presents his head to Herod through the actions and expressions of the figures and the contrasts of light and shadow."

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci - about 1501.

"An unusually large Christ child seated on a rocky outcrop beside his mother gazing intently at a cross-shaped yarnwinder as if already aware of his future crucifixion. The Virgin's tender expression and hesitant gesture reinforce the poignancy of the scene."

Venus, Cupid and Mars by Paolo Veronese - about 1580-88.

"Venus conforts her son Cupid, who has been startled by a lively spaniel. She is balanced awkwardly on Mars' lap."

Wooded landscape by Meindert Hobbema - typical of his work of the early 1660's.

"Hobbema frequently painted this type of landscape with horizontal format and a meandering path leading from the foreground well into the distance."

Portrait of Maria de Haen  by Frans Hals

"Recent research has established the identity of this woman's husband, Francois Wouter. There remains a slim possibility that the portrait  was painted to commemorate  Wouter's marriage to his second wife."

Verdonck by Frans Hals - about 1580.

"The portrait was engraved with a caption stating - this is Verdonck, that outspoken fellow, whose jawbone attacks everyone. He cares for nobody, great or small. The jawbone, the same weapon used by the Biblical hero Sanson, probably refers to Verdonck's ability to wound with his cutting words."

A woman in bed  (detail) by Rembrandt Van Rijn.

"While this painting might appear to be an intimate and direct portrayal of a specific person, neither the woman's identity nor the exact subject are known. The setting suggests that the subject shown might be the story of Sarah waiting in bed as her bridegroom Tobias chases away the Devil."

The kiss (on loan) by Auguste Rodin - 1882.

"The kiss originally depicts the adulterous lovers, Paolo and Francesca, who appear as characters in Dante's Divine Comedy. This life-size evocation of love is amongst Rodin's most famous works."

Harbour view  by Joseph Mallord William Turner.

"This is an intense study in colour relationships. It is possible  it represents the harbour at Margate on the Kent coast. Fishermen have gathered in the foreground and are perhaps depicted repairing nets, while part of their catch has been laid out at the left."

The interior of St. Bavo's Church, Haarlem by Pieter Jansz Saenredam - 1648.

The interior of St. Bavo's Church  is the largest of Saenredam's surviving works. The Church, where the artist was later buried is virtually unchanged today. The painting was presented to the restored English King Charles II by the Dutch Government in 1660."

The ladies Waldegrave by Sir Joshua Reynolds - 1780.

"This grand yet intimate conversation piece of the daughters of the 2nd Earl Waldegrave shows Lady Anna Horatia making silk lace on a net covered tambour frame helped by her sisters. Reynolds may have intended to flatter his aristocratic sitters by implying a comparison with the Three Graces of Classical Antiquity." 

We found it difficult to part. Stuart had been more than a guide ... he had been with us all morning and it was evident that not only had he been strongly committed to sharing everything he could within such a short amount of time but it was also clear that he loves what he does and that (does and) did make a tremendous difference.

We felt like hanging around with him all afternoon despite knowing that he had other commitments but  we'll certainly make sure we book a full day walk next time we travel to Edinburgh for the simple pleasure of having him share with us his knowledge, his life experience ... his soul.

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