Thursday, February 21, 2008

RA: "From Russia" plus Fortnums and Waterstones

Tea in the Friends Meeting Room, Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly
8" x 11", pencil and coloured pencil in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Yesterday we had another of our periodic trips into town and a visit to Piccadilly. The routine is we go to whichever exhibition is on at Royal Academy, then have a cup of tea in the Friends Room and I sketch and then we hit the book shops - with both Hatchards and the flagship Waterstones (now Europe's largest bookshop) having lots to keep us happy - potentially for very many hours...... Yesterday we also added in a late visit to Fortnum and Mason's Food Hall - always a treat! (I can now thoroughly recommend Fennel salami)

Royal Academy of Arts: From Russia - French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 from Moscow and St Petersburg

The "From Russia" exhibition was heaving when we visited yesterday! If this is what's it like nearly a month after it opened I hate to think what it was like just after it opened on 26th January! The exhibitions closes on 18 April and I predict it get even busier towards the end.

I'm going to have to go back early one morning in March when it's quieter so I can use the audio guide and look at things properly. Yesterday I made notes in my Moleskine about the paintings I liked

Here's my list - plus links to sites which look useful:

Russian painters
French painters - work in Russian museums
  • Cezanne Mont St Victoire (Hermitage)
  • Monet - The Pond at Montgeron 1876 (Hermitage)
  • Monet - The haystack at Giverny 1888 (Pushkin)
  • Monet - Poppy Field 1887 (Hermitage)
  • Bonnard - Summer Dance 1912 (Pushkin)
I'm going to be a bit of time tracking down all the links I want to find - so I've published now and if you're interested check back later when I'll have found more links so you can see the paintings and/or a bit ore about them

There were also blown up photographs of the studios of artists and some of the rooms of their pioneer art collectors - including a number of those of Shchukin. I'm now greatly intrigued by Sergei Shchukin who obviously had a good eye and a great deal of nerve to accumulated a very large collection of Matisse, Picasso and Gauguin He also commissioned The Dance II to hang on his staircase. I'm amazed his wikipedia entry is so short.

"He who must not be bored while I sketch" was of the opinion that not all the artwork was by people who could justifiably called Masters. I'd heard the same comment from another person who visited the exhibition. My feeling is that the exhibition tells a story about how modern art emerged in Russia and that probably means that not all the art will necessarily be top rated. However I note that Andrew Lambirth suggests people be selective with their time. Note also that he wasn't doing his review on a press review day and consequently has to see the exhibition along with all us plebs! Of which there are too many. Someday, the Royal Academy is going to see the sense of timed entrance for exhibitions like this...........

In the meantime, maybe they could use some of the sponduliks they're accumulating from the exhibition to make sure they expand their Friends facilities to cope with the number coming into town to see the Exhibition. The Friends Room has become a complete joke in terms of the queues to get tea and the fact that there is never anywhere to sit down. It's not as if there isn't extra space - there is - they just don't open it until 3.30. All they need to do is have it open all day and employ some extra staff for the duration of the exhibition.

Or maybe the people who took on and revolutionised the refreshment experience at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery could transfer their expertise to he Royal Academy? ;)

I bought FAR TOO MANY art books in Waterstones yet again. The haul includes some real goodies though! I'm now not allowed to visit another art bookshop for months!

About 90% of the Hermitage's collection is not on view, including works that any other museum, city or nation would give a fortune to exhibit.
Simon Jenkins


  1. Thank you for the introduction to Levitan. I have much to learn from him.

    The Spectator article makes it clear to me that we should still "curate" the quality, but overviews can be another matter.

  2. Art books are like pastels. One can never own too many.

  3. I'm glad to see you got to sit down eventually in order to make your sketch. I love the chap at the back of the room.

    Looking forward to all your goodies from the Russian exhibition and have now put Katherine's Library of Art Books on my places to visit, next time I'm in London. :)

  4. I just love the sketch done at Fortnum and Mason's - I really admire your approach. It makes me want to get out and sketch. Thank you for all the wonderful links too!


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