Famous women


In some countries, 8 May is women’s day, so here’s a bunch more of the Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant set that will hopefully be bought be Charleston soon and remain on public display.


The collection covered dancers (Pavlova, Taglioni), political movers and shakers (Sarah Churchill and several queens), writers (Georges Sand and Eliot), artists and muses (“La Bella Simonetta” was a subject for Bottecelli) and royal mistresses.


I recognised most of the women in set, including Dorothy Osborne, whose letters I studied at uni, but Agnes Sorel had me stumped…


Photos from my visit to the Piano Nobile gallery.



How beautiful is this statue from the antique collection at the Rodin Museum? Rodin collected Greek, Roman and Egyptian art for over 20 years and left it to the French state as part of his own works’ bequest.


I’m pretty sure that I’ve written before about how much I enjoy finding unexpected correspondences between a places, but I have a similar thing for faces.

It struck me as I was going round the Musee d’Orsay how much this Fantin-Latour sitter’s face is like a Gerald Brocklehurst from 70 years later.

Or how Berthe Morisot’s defiant face, painted by Manet in the 1860s, is exactly like this young girl’s face in Doisneau’s photo of 1957.

Or that this Bonnard really does feel like it could sit in the American Midwest.

All photos on the left of the pairs by me from the Musee d’Orsay.



It’s been a good winter for art in London this year – I can’t recommend highly enough the Cezanne portraits at the NPG, the two Opera and Balenciaga shows at the V&A or the Scythians at the BM – but the Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain was actually rather a disappointment for such a talented artist who previously did a well-displayed installation at Tate Modern just along the river.


Instead, I say keep your visit to the ever excellent permanent collection (free), especially the wonderful Henry Moore rooms (free!), and if you want some Whiteread, this gummy bear piece in the main upstairs hall that is currently turned over to sculpture (all free).


You’re getting the point…save your £15 and just enjoy the permanent show!


All photos from last month.



Angela Burdett-Coutts was not only a formidable philanthropist and champion of Dickens, she also clearly had a good eye for a bit of gold-glitzed tartan. Joking aside, I do like how the National Portrait Gallery is finally including more women on its walls, from Georgian actresses and suffragettes to the artists themselves. About time! Follow along on their Instagram feed for more wonderful discoveries, including pieces from their recent photographic commissions.



If you go to the RA (and aren’t distracted by the chicken trucks), then go to the top floor by the Sackler Wing and see if Richard Deacon’s selection of RA diploma pieces is still there. Bracketed together by Deacon’s choices there’s a subtle and varied set of sculptures which I actually enjoyed more than the exhibition I’d been to see. From the classical to the avant garde, through marble to terracotta, metals, paint and rough to smooth there as something for every eye.

All photos October 2017.

An education


The Portland Art Museum has a really good collection, from sculptures in the courtyard outside the entrance hall to prehistoric Chinese art,


modern woodblocks, dancing gods, Versailles artists and portraits


Impressionists and Roman Syrian art,


American artists,


and three generations of the Wyeth family.


From top to bottom: street art, Chinese artefacts from 200 BCE, Jiang Bibo, Shiva from S India, Buddha from China, Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer x2, Gabriel Revel, Marianne Loyer, Alexandre Calame, Boucher, Gustavo Courbet and tomb carvings from Roman Syria, Julian Alder Weir x2, NC Wyeth, Eugene Speicher, Andrew Wyeth. Jamie Wyeth and Oswald Achenbach.

October 2017.



Still finding London’s war memorials whenever I go. This one’s in Baker Street. If you want a literary record of the Second World War, then VS Pritchett’s London Perceived, written in 1962 but republished with a new foreword in 1985, reflected how the post war building boom saw London lose its “almost Venetian” low skyline. Funny to read as a Londoner who’s grown up with a much more diverse city and rather likes the skyline from Waterloo Bridge.