Thursday, August 29, 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings as Visual Knowledge

The Royal Drawing School sent out an email this morning which focuses on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
Inspired by Autumn Term course, Life Drawing and Anatomy: Mechanics of the Human Form, we have drawn from the fields of science and art to bring together articles, art works, exhibitions and lectures that will open the mind to the world of anatomical drawing...
It included a link to a Lecture - Martin Kemp - Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings as Visual Knowledge - which the art historian Martin Kemp gave at the Royal Drawing School in 2015. This is available to listen to - for free - via Soundcloud. It's an hour and 24 minutes long and it won't surprise you to know I've not listened to it all as yet!

Click the link below to enjoy the lecture. Unfortunately you'll have to imagine the drawings or try and identify them online while you listen
He never draws solutions..... Drawing for him is an act of exploration, of invention of analysis all simultaneously. 

In addition there is a Lecture in October

Exhibiting Leonardo da Vinci across the UK

Lecture by Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust
Venue: Royal Drawing School Shoreditch,
Date: Wednesday 9th October,
Start time: 6.45pm

This talk will discuss the purpose of Leonardo’s drawings, and the experience of curating a nationwide exhibition of these drawings for a mass audience.

About Martin Clayton 

  • Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust. 
  • Studied Natural Sciences and the History of Art at Cambridge
  • Has worked in the Print Room at Windsor Castle since 1990. 
  • He has curated many exhibitions on the drawings in the Royal Collection, including the works of Poussin, Canaletto, Raphael, Castiglione, and especially those of Leonardo da Vinci.

Studies of the Foetus in the Womb.

Exhibitions re. Anatomy

Exhibition: Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing 

Venue: Queen's Gallery
Date: Finishes 13 October 2019
Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition brings together more than 200 of the Renaissance master's greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition of Leonardo's work in over 65 years. 

The Science Museum: Anatomy and Pathology Departmental Collection

These objects chart how our understanding of human anatomy has shifted over time. They include an important series of anatomical models, tools used to dissect and study the dead, and preserved human specimens including a large tattoo collection.

The London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus: BodyWorlds

BodyWorlds, curated by creative director Dr. Angelina Whalley, explores the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, locomotive and metabolic systems in more detail than has ever previously been possible, offering an unparalleled insight into the human body and how it works.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Art Education: Courses, Workshops and Talks at the V&A Academy

The V&A Academy provides courses, workshops and talks for Adult Learners at the Victoria and Albert MuseumThey are predominantly art history related and also focus on design and decorative art as well as fine art.  They also include professional development courses which may well have wider application to those involved in the business of art and design.

At this time of year people often start planning any courses they want to do over the winter months - hence his post!

If anybody wants to recommend any other venue for courses please contact me


The 2019–20 V&A Academy Course programme is our richest, most varied yet. Whether you’re looking for an inspiring weekend or an in-depth exploration of your favourite subject, we welcome all kinds of learners. You can expect exclusive lectures from V&A experts, hands-on sessions with museum objects, behind-the-scenes access and day trips to see history in context.
examples of some of the courses

They've recently published their V&A Academy 2019 - 20 Courses brochure PDF (3.1 mb)

Titles of Available Courses in 2019-20

The Courses vary from:

  • Year Courses 
    • these take place on one fixed day per week for three terms.  
    • Day tickets are available for some of the days in these courses. 
    • There are also optional visits to External Locations
  • Short Courses - often frequented by those who have retired.
    • in each of the Autumn, Spring and Summer Terms
    • typically 4, 8 or 10 week courses
    • some are in the evenings
  • Weekend Courses - unsurprisingly are on Saturday and Sundays making them accessible for those who work.
They also include professional development courses for those working in art galleries and museums or wanting to do so.  For example

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Films about artists - Mrs Lowry & Son

Those of us with northern roots will be interested to know that The Gala Premiere of Mrs Lowry & Son is next Tuesday 27 August 2019 at the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry in Salford.

The film is about the relationship between L. S. Lowry, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and his bed-ridden mother Elizabeth.  Timothy Spall plays Lowry and Vanessa Redgrave takes on the role of his mother, Elizabeth.

Below you can see view:
  • a trailer video of the film
  • a video of a Curator at the Lowry commenting on the paintings seen in the film
  • a video which compares the paintings with what the places look like now
  • where you can see LS Lowry Paintings - in art galleries, online and in my blog posts
  • where you can find out more on the dedicated social media sites
  • where you can see the film
  • PLUS Artists and Art on Film: my past blog posts

Monday, August 19, 2019

Films about artists - an Omnibus interview with Lucian Freud

The lovely thing about looking for past posts on this blog is I come across ones I've totally forgotten about....

....such as Lucian Freud - on film, in words and ink - which includes my efforts to draw him while he talks - and moves!
still from Lucian Freud on Omnibus by the BBC

It's well worthwhile highlighting the Omnibus interview with past master Lucian Freud conducted by jake Auerbach on the occasion of his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1988. That's over 30 years ago - when he was 66. (It's on BBC iPlayer which means that it can be seen by viewers in the UK only)

As Auerbach says on his own blog post The first one....
It is a filmed conversation with Lucian Freud recorded at the time of his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1988.

The filming took place during two early (6.30AM) sessions at the Gallery itself and was followed on each occasion by breakfast at the Quality Chop House (Quality Chop House)… which looked similar to today… if a little dirtier… but was then a cafe for the Royal Mail sorting staff from across the road; served great porridge and had fresh kippers from the down train from Scotland which arrived at Kings Cross station at 5.45 each morning.
Omnibus: Lucian Freud - available on iPlayer

More About Lucian Freud 

For those who want to know more about Lucian Freud, here is a list of past blog posts about him

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sculpture at Wisley 2019

Yesterday we went to RHS Wisley and found there is a Modern and Contemporary Sculpture Trail around the garden which includes works by Henry Moore.

The exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture around the 240 acre garden runs until 1 December 2019.
Sculpture at Wisley 2019 features the work of seminal 20th and 21st century artists: Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Phillip King, Henry Bruce and Philip Haas.
In addition - formally opening tomorrow - the Surrey Sculpture Society Trail has other works by more local artists and continues until 22nd September.

I've included images from both exhibitions below.  If you like sculpture, Wisley is well worth a visit in the near future while both Sculpture Trails are on.

Henry Moore

Draped Reclining Figure by Henry Moore
next to the Jellicoe Canal
Locking Piece by Henry Moore
next to the Lake
Large Standing Figure - Knife Edge 1976 by Henry Moore
in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden
This piece seems to have claimed by the kids as the Sculpture Play Park! It had kids around it all the time we were near it.

The pieces have been lent to the exhibition by the Henry Moore Foundation at Hoglands

(You can see more Henry Moore pieces at Hoglands in my blog post Sculpture in the garden at Hoglands, Perry Green and my Flickr set Henry Moore Sculptures, Hoglands, Perry Green)

Lynn Chadwick

Little Girl, I, II , III by Lynn Chadwick
in between the Walled Gardens and the Lake
Lynn Russell Chadwick, CBE RA (24 November 1914 – 25 April 2003) was an English sculptor and artist. He was known for his innovative bronze and steel sculptures of abstracted and expressive figures and animals.

Henry Bruce

There's a Giant's Chair by Henry Bruce at the top of the Mixed Borders Hill.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Paint Offs, Paint Outs and Quick Draws - in September 2019

A couple of events for those who like their plein air painting are coming up next month - in Bristol and on the Broads.
This is in addition to the normal plein air paint out days organised by the British Plein Air Painters during the summer

Inaugural Bristol Plein Air Paint Off

Central Bristol has a rich landscape ranging from the soft slopes of Brandon Park, the historical, industrial cranes and harbour, the modern architecture of Millenium Square and the traditional architecture of the cathedral and university, not to mention the iconic suspension bridge - a feast for "Plein Air" painters whatever their medium or practice may be.

Cass Arts Bristol @ 43-45 Park Street, Bristol - organiser, assembly point and exhibition holder

EVENT: Bristol Plein Air Paint Off

Jen Gash painting plein air this time last year - in the semi-finals

Who can take part

  • 50 places available (there are 35 left on the Eventbrite website as at the time of writing)
  • Minimum age for entering is 16 years. 
  • £10 entrance fee per person
  •  and it would be helpful for you to have a mobile phone so we can find you and visit you during the day!

What you have to do

  • bring your own supply of art materials, tools etc and lunch/drinks etc (Cass Art will be providing a discount for materials on the day, should you need further supplies!)
  • 9.30am  assemble at Cass Art Bristol43 - 45 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5NL
    • to register for a 10.30 start (i.e. time needed for paperwork etc.)
    • You will be given a unique entrant number
    • stickers will be applied to your intended supports
    • you'll also be given a waiver and a permission form for photos etc
    • provide your mobile phone number so that you can be located during the day
  • 10.30am start painting (maximum canvas size of 100cm square)
  • 3.30pm - finish painting. This gives you 5 hours painting time, in total. 
  • thereafter - gather at Cass Art for preliminary judging and shortlisting.
  • 3.30 and 5pm - paintings by 20 artists completed on stickered supports will be shortlisted for an exhibition during the following week
  • 5pm - collect your paintings if not shortlisted
PLEASE NOTE: Jen Gash and Cass Art are not responsible for participants safety and wellbeing. Please make sure you have sun screen, umbrellas, food etc and are able to take care of your own needs.


There will be prizes for the following categories:
  • Young Talent Award - 16 - 21 years, to be awarded at 5pm on the day
  • Cass Art Plein Air Award - overall winner to be awarded at 5pm on the day
  • Peoples Choice Award - to be decided following a public exhibition where members of the public can vote for their favourite piece.
Prizes and judges to be announced... but there will be some lovely things !

A Brush with the Broads

A fourth annual weekend of painting activity on the Norfolk Broads which seems to invade my Facebook feed once a year!

The Broads is a network of mostly navigable rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.
The lakes, known as broads, were formed by the flooding of peat workings
It's back after a break of two years having run in 2014, 2015, and 2016
A Brush with the Broads™ started as the dream of local artist, Linda H Matthews, to bring artists and collectors together in an area steeped in artistic inspiration and history, the Norfolk & Suffolk Broads.
For artists to inspire, socialise, learn from and compete with each other.

EVENT: A Brush with the Broads
  • Registration / Exhibition Space: change of location, to Hall Farm Cottages - a complex of self catering cottages in converted farm buildings.
  • Dates: Thu, 26 Sep 2019, 14:00 – Mon, 30 Sep 2019, 22:00 BST
  • Organised by: Linda H Matthews
  • Event Link (for Booking tickets): A Brush with the Broads™ 2019
  • Registration: Online and at Hall Farm Cottages

Monday, August 12, 2019

If you missed Van Gogh in Britain at the Tate

Last week I visited Van Gogh and Britain at Tate Britain - and took rather a lot of photos. I've now uploaded some of these - mostly the ones of the drawings and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh to an album attached to my public Facebook Page titled Van Gogh and Britain

The exhibition has now closed and I recommend you take a look if you wanted to visit but were unable to do so.  Also if you want to read more about Van Gogh I've listed other blog posts about Van Gogh - which also contain pics at the end of this post.

It includes:

  • drawings by Van Gogh - including one where I show the mark-making close up (see above - his drawing of the garden at the asylum at St Remy)
  • self-portraits by Van Gogh - three in total
  • paintings by Van Gogh - in variou venues and across the years
  • Drawings, paintings and prints by other artists who influenced Van Gogh - notably John Constable, John Millais and Gustave Dore
  • paintings by artists influenced by Van Gogh - including Lucien Pissarro, Samuel John Peploe and Francis Bacon.
  • pictures from the last Van Gogh Exhibition at Tate Britain in 1947-8 - when they had to resurface the floors afterwards due to the number of people who visited
You need to look at each photo individually to see the caption - and I haven't quite finished these but have done most of them - and with some that are not finished you can read the wall caption which is also in the photo

READ (a lot!) MORE

You can also read the Guide to the exhibition on the Tate website - but you'll need to be quick as for some reason the Tate does not archive its exhibition and educational material!

PLUS my blog posts from my Van Gogh Project - which do not date - and are included below (Introduction to the Van Gogh Project)

Van Gogh and Drawing

"I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing." Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

Van Gogh's Paintings

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sarah Wimperis talking and teaching about how Van Gogh paints

A big shout out to my friend Sarah Wimperis who was the artist commenting on the Official Audio Guide to Van Gogh in Britain at Tate Britain - and talking about the Van Gogh paintings and how they are painted.

All the people with the headsets on are listening to Sarah Wimperis
commenting on how Van Gogh painted this painting - Starry Night (Arles, August 1888)

I finally got to see the exhibition last week having only just realised in time that it was about to finish!  (I hate the crowds at the beginning and have to endure the crowds at the end when I forget to make a date to go after the beginning and well before the end!)

I posted the above photo to my FB account and Sarah commented with Those people with headphones are listening to me!

I thought she did brilliantly - highlighting aspects of the painting which just don't come through when curators or critics talk about them. 

What I liked was she talked about how careful he was - in terms of the colours used and his brushwork.

For example, in relation to the Starry Night Painting (Arles 1888), the caption, by the curator says one thing

While Sarah - on the Audio Guide - is talking about LOOKING at:
  • how many different blues he has used for the sky to demonstrate that a sky is not always a flat colour
  • how he has always made sure his brush marks reflect the contours or form of the object he is painting e.g. the broad brush marks for the ripples in the water are all horizontal
LOOK AT: the various colours used in the night sky and the horizontal brush marks he made for the water

That's because she spent several months in 2017 painting 788 paintings exactly like Van Gogh for the total of 65,000 needed for the film 'Loving Vincent'! (see example of four frames).

Sarah was the only English artist out of 125 artists from all over the world - and hence a natural choice for the audio guide!

You can see something of what she did on her website - on the Loving Vincent page

Learn to paint like Van Gogh

Having learned an awful lot about how Van Gogh painting, Sarah now includes tuition for those who would also like to paint like Van Gogh in her portfolio of painting workshops. 

Check out the workshops section of her website for more details. 

I just rang her to tell her about this blog post and she tells me that her tuition dates for next year will be going online within the next week!

In the meantime she is providing painting tuition in oil and gouache on painting holidays and workshops this year in:
  • Provence - August 31st - September 7th 2019
  • Norfolk - September 22nd - 26th 2019 - already sold out

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery - closes 11 August

Yesterday I went to see the exhibition Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery.

On my (public) Making A Mark Facebook Page (i.e. you don't have to be a member to look) you can see a photo album of pics I took in this free exhibition in the Basement Galleries of the National Gallery (just beyond the Expresso cafe)

Below is a VIDEO which you can also in the lobby area before you enter the exhibition - which shows you and tells you why and how he makes his artworks - and why JMW Turner's painting of ‘The Evening Star’ is also in the exhibition.

Works by Sean Scully in the show include:
  • oil on linen
  • oil on aluminium
  • pastel on paper
  • etchings, aquatint and spitbite on paper
Arles Abend Vincent by Sean Scully

detail of one of his pastels on paper

Landline Star and Landline Pool viewed either side of JMW Turner's painting of ‘The Evening Star’ 

Triptych - Etching, aquatint and spitbit on paper  by Sean Scully

The exhibition continues until 11 August so you better move fast if you want to see it in person!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Why the Smithsonian now owns paintings by Bob Ross - but few others do!

Trust me - you'll enjoy this! 

It's a happy little video about what happened to all those Bob Ross paintings that he painted - before, during and after "The Joy of Painting".

Published by the New York Times on 12 Jul 2019, it's already had more than 6 million views.

Did you know you can't buy a Bob Ross Painting?

That's because it has never occurred to Bob Ross Inc. to sell them.  The company which looks after his artistic estate is based  P.O. Box 946, Sterling, VA 20167 - but the building is closed to visitors and the paintings are all boxed up inside.

Bob used to paint three paintings for the famous The Joy of Painting television show
  • one before the show - as a reference
  • one during the show - in 26 minutes flat. Sometimes he introduced last minute improvisations. 
  • one after the show - for use in the "how to" instruction books
According to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight, Mr. Ross painted in 381 of the 403 episodes of the show (the rest featured a guest). If three versions were made of each of those paintings, at least 1,143 originals would exist. Bob Ross Inc. estimates that it has 1,165 paintings stored on site. New York Times
However his paintings never seem to come on the market.

This article perhaps best reflects why people love Bob Ross and want to buy his paintings - I Spent Two Months Trying to Buy a Bob Ross Painting Because Nothing Makes Sense Anymore

The New York Times set out to solve the big mystery of why you cannot buy a Bob Ross and wanted find out how many paintings there were - see Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them.

The consensus now is that there are 1,143 paintings associated with the show which were painted by Bob Ross.  It's surmised that there may also be paintings in existence which he painted as an instructor outside the TV show and in demonstrations - but that number is unknown. There are also the paintings he made before he started on TV.

The Smithsonian offered to take some of his paintings - and as a result, in 2019,  Bob Ross Inc. donated an array of artwork and artifacts to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the paintings and other objects officially became part of the museum’s permanent collection on March 22. You can see the paintings that were donated in the New York Times article.

Two exhibitions of paintings by Bob Ross

This year Bob Ross has paintings in two exhibitions in the USA.  Quite how the paintings were extracted from Bob Ross Inc. is a story which still needs to be told....

Monday, August 05, 2019

NEW PAGE: Art on Television

I very much enjoy reviewing the episodes of the various art competitions on UK television and seem to have accumulated rather a lot of posts on the topic.

So much so I've decided to create a brand new page on my blog which is purely about my "Art on Television" blog posts.  It can be accessed

  • via the menu tabs at the top of the page if viewed on a desktop or tablet
  • in the hamburger menu if viewed on a smartphone

The "Art on Television" Page includes 

  • all the series I've reviewed of programmes by both Sky Arts and the BBC - which are listed below. 
  • Every blog post I've written is also listed on the new page

Sky Arts - Artist of the Year

  • Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 - which is in the can but won't be broadcast until 2020
  • Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 - which aired earlier this year on Sky and is currently being repeated on Channel 4 on Saturday evenings at 5pm.
  • Landscape Artist of the Year 2019 - which has just finished filming the semi-finals and will be broadcast in the Autumn. The really big (this is a pun!) question was always whether a very pregnant Kate Bryan would be there all the way until the end. If you go to Kate Bryan's Instagram account you can find out what happened!
a mashup on Instagram of pics tagged #landscapeartistofthe year
  • Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - the first series I watched via the NOW TV app
  • Landscape Artist of the Year 2018 - which I enjoyed enormously and got to know a number of the artists as a result!

BBC - programmes involving artists and artisans

The Big Painting Challenge

  • BBC Celebrity Painting Challenge - which was the format I'd been advocating for some time - but sadly with no 'normal' people involved
  • BBC: The Big Painting Challenge 2018 (Series 3)
  • BBC: The Big Painting Challenge 2017 (Series 2)
  • BBC: The Big Painting Challenge 2015 (Series 1)

BBC: The Arts and Crafts House (2018)
BBC: Home is Where the Art is (Series 2)
BBC: Home is Where the Art is (Series 1)

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Home is Where the Art is: Series 2 - Call for Artists

The BBC is looking for "talented passionate artists" for its second series of "Home is Where the Art is" - with another 15 episodes each featuring 3 artists and/or crafts people.

Home is Where the Art is returning for a second series.

The type who can:
  • work to a brief
  • create something fabulous for a buyer you've never met

I'd add the type that:
  • don't mind not getting paid (except a notional sum for materials) if you are not selected by the client
  • don;t get a named credit in the end credits of the programme (of which more below!)
They also want to "showcase how rewarding commissioning art can be" but I guess that's more for the client than the artist.

Some of you may recall my previous posts on the first series including
My blog posts are the most comprehensive with respect to the artists featured. They include:
  • website and social media links for the artists who participated in each episode
  • contact details are embedded in the artist's name
  • commissions details are provided if self evident
If you're interested in taking part, I suggest you 

  • take a look at my posts as the episodes from the First Series are no longer available online (although doubtless will be made available again just before the Second Series is broadcast).  You'll get a sense of the variety of skills and competences involved.
  • ponder on the fact that they are filming in October and November - which can be very busy months for those who are preparing/creating stock for the run-up to Christmas
  • note that they especially like artists who live in the North. (Some of you will have worked out that this BBC Studios production is based in Manchester! It also means you save them money on the travel expenses budget as most of the locations of clients will also be in the north of England i.e. north of Birmingham!).
  • note also you need to do a face to face interview via Skype - although some artists are suggesting that they should use Facetime instead.
If you're still interested, you can contact the BBC via

If you don't hear from them by September, you've not been chosen.

The Lack of NAMED CREDITS Issue

I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the television programmes which use professional people as their "reality stars" and yet faily to give them any credit and/or pay them.

I very much RECOMMEND that artists should decline to take part if there is no formal written agreement that their name is featured in the end credits. Otherwise there is no record of you ever having taken place in the show - other than my blog posts!

Here's what I had to say in one of my blog posts as to why NAMED CREDITS are important
For all those saying that the names are said in the programme so why do they need the credits?

Well a number of reasons:

  • to respect the work of professionals - just as the credits at the end of the programme respect the work of the people behind the scenes who make the programme
  • two of the three are unpaid - and providing a named credit is fair exchange for the many hours given for free to make content for the BBC. Otherwise it's the equivalent of working for free for the exposure - but without the exposure in terms of a name to enable people to find you!
  • the names might be said - but nobody spells them out. In the first week there are THREE artists where I had to keep replaying the segment to listen to the names again and again - and even then finally identified them using information from elsewhere in the programme (eg "Gallery Windermere paintings cattle" got one of them).
  • the BBC is hypocritical and ignores its own rules when it suits it - such as making sure it gets great guests on the Graham Norton show - because they are only there to promote their latest whatever - and always do!

Sky Arts and some other production companies who are commissioned by the BBC got their act together on this issue after I named and shamed their programmes....

I will continue with the naming and shaming until such time as the BBC "gets it" and makes it routine that all professionals who feature in television programmes get a named credit at the end of the show.

The dedicated Facebook group

The original artists from Series 1 who are on Facebook have set up a dedicated Facebook Group which continues to highlight their activities - and market their art!

You can find it at Home Is Where the Art Is artists 2019

Interestingly, a number of other "arts and crafts people" also decided to make good use of the programme title and there are now a fair few pages about "Home is Where the Art is" on Facebook - but have nothing to do with the programme!

and finally......

If you get selected, make sure that your website, Facebook Page (not personal account), Twitter account and Instagram account - if you have them - are all looking good and are bang up to date BEFORE your episode is broadcast.

A number of artists wrote to me to thank me for the fact I featured their websites in my blog posts and said what a difference it made to traffic to their website - and of course more commissions!

Friday, August 02, 2019

JMW Turner's Travelling Watercolour Paints

Yesterday I visited the Permanent Collection in the NEW Collection Gallery at the Royal Academy of Arts (one of the new developments). This is free to visit for everybody.

I viewed (amongst other items) the travelling watercolour set of JMW Turner RA which is currently part of a temporary display. Below you can see my photos of:
The travelling watercolour set of JMW Turner RA ca. 1842
Dimensions: 296 mm x 317 mm x 9 mm
The set was given to the RA by Given by Mrs Hilda Félicité Finberg in 1940
Watercolour palette owned by J.M.W. Turner, R.A.
175 mm x 148 mm x 4 mm
This porcelain watercolour palette was also given to the RA by Mrs Hilda Félicité Finberg in 1940. It's in remarkably good condition if a little scratched.

The imprint on Turner's palette for watercolours

It's clearly marked as being made by RB Newsom. This is what the online resource British artists’ suppliers, 1650-1950 maintained by the National Portrait Gallery has to say about this gentleman.
Richard Bowden Newsom, 14 Wellington St, Borough, London 1834-1837, oilman and artists’ colourman; 7, 8 and 9 Leyland St, Vauxhall 1837, candle maker and preparer of canvas and mill boards for artists; 9-10 Leland St, Lambeth 1839 candlemaker and colourman. Post-1839, see below.

Richard Bowden Newsom (1806-80) led a varied career over many years in retailing and manufacturing. He was christened on 22 January 1806 at St Mary Scarborough, the son of Joseph Newsom and Sarah Maria, née Bowden. He was apprenticed in 1820 to his father, a grocer and tallow chandler of St Albans, Hertfordshire, and a Citizen and Cordwainer of London, and was admitted in 1827 to the freedom of the Company of Cordwainers. His father set up as a tea dealer in the Borough in 1823.

Richard Bowden Newsom married Mary Wright in 1830 and they had eight surviving children. He traded from 14 Wellington St, Borough as an oilman and artists’ colourman from 1834 to 1837, and was specifically listed as an artists’ colourman in Pigot’s 1836 London directory. He was followed at this address by Frank Livett, oilman and artists’ colourman, in 1838. Newsom moved to 7, 8 and 9 Leyland St, Vauxhall, where he took out insurance as a patent wax candle maker and preparer of canvas and mill boards for artists in May 1837 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 564/1250680). In Pigot’s 1839 directory he was described as an artist, colourman and manufacturer of improved imperial wax and sperm candles, his last listing as a colourman.

His partnership with William Bayley the younger as goldbeaters at 79 White Lion St, Pentonville, and woodcutters in Hoxton, was subject to bankruptcy proceedings in 1860 (London Gazette 5 June 1860). Described as of Orpington, he was made bankrupt again in 1865, when in partnership with William Maslen and Thomas Tillam, gas apparatus manufacturers (London Gazette 7 February 1865). In census records he can be found in Lambeth in 1841, in Plaistow in 1851 as a ‘collector wine trade’ and in 1871 in Orpington as a retired grocer. He died in January 1880 at the age of 73, leaving an estate worth under £100.

Activities as an artists’ supplier: A porcelain watercolour palette once owned by J.M.W. Turner can be dated to the mid-1830s since it bears an oval printed label: R.B. NEWSOM/ 14 BOROUGH/ Requisites for/ Drawing & Painting. (Royal Academy, 03/7070). 
(see British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 - N)

Watercolour swatch taken from travelling watercolour watercolour set owned by JMW Turner

This is described by the as the Watercolour test paper taken from travelling watercolour box owned by J.M.W. Turner, R.A.

Their photo on the website is considerably lighter than mine. I'm wondering if they're trying to give the impression of what it would have looked like when paper was white. So I had a go at changing the colour of the paper today - as viewed in a dimmish gallery - to one which was lighter and brighter.

Watercolours if paper is nearer to white (adjusted via Photoshop Levels)
The colours of the watercolour pans he used are as follows:

TOP ROW (left to right)
  • Carmine
  • Purple Madder
  • Purple Madder
  • Orange Chrome
  • Vermillion
  • Permanent Blue
ROW 2 (left to right)
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Brown Madder
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Raw Sienna
  • Cobalt (Blue)
ROW 3 (left to right)
  • Ivory Black
  • Purple Carmine?
  • Crimson Lake
  • Roman Ochre
  • Vandyke Brown
  • empty space
ROW 4 (left to right)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Intense Brown Madder
  • empty space
  • empty space
  • empty space
  • green colour no name
ROW 5 (left to right)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Intense Brown Madder
  • indecipherable writing (a mix?)
  • Olive Green
  • Yellow Lake
  • Lae Lake
ROW 6 (left to right)
  • Indigo
  • Indigo (lighter)
  • Yellow Lake
  • Brown Pink
  • Gamboge
  • Lae lake
You can see these items for yourself in the new Permanent Collection Gallery at the Royal Academy of Arts - which the RA seems determined to keep obscure as I can't find a reference to the space on their website. 

Thursday, August 01, 2019

A gem of an art collection and maybe a Titian?

This morning I went to see a painting and found an extremely impressive art collection as well.  You can see both at Apsley House and the permanent collection - like those at the Wallace Collection and the Courtauld - is an absolute gem.

A painting from the Titian Workshop

The painting is called Orpheus enchanting the animals. It celebrates the civilizing power of music and its capacity to create peace. English Heritage have been working on its conservation for the last 18 months - and they are now confident of attributing the painting to the workshop of Titian (1490-1576).

Orpheus Enchanting the Animals AFTER TREATMENT
(c) English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House
The ancient Greek god and poet Orpheus is seen charming the animals by playing the a Lira di Bracchia which was a four stringed instrument popular in the 1560’s in Venice when the painting was made. His music has united the Lion and the Unicorn who are traditional foes.

There are a lot of animals in the painting - everything from iguanas and turtle doves to dragons, dogs and tortoises!

Orpheus hanging on the wall of the Waterloo Gallery

In 2018 the decision was made to conserve Orpheus Enchanting the Animals. The conservation involved:
  • removal of the old, yellowed varnish with swabs dipped in solvent mixtures. 
  • a specialist liner relined the painting as the old lining canvas was failing. 
  • old damages filled with chalk putty and retouched with easily removable, synthetic pigments which will not discolour like oil paint does
  • finally the painting was revarnished. 
Conservator Alice Tate-Harte restores 'Orpheus Enchanting the Animals'  
Working on the Conservation
(English Heritage | Apsley House)
The quality of the figure can now clearly be seen as the removal of dirty varnish revealed some subtlety in the shading and modelling of the figure.

New art historical research also found
  • An old inventory number was discovered on the back which linked it to the Spanish Royal Collection. This placed the painting in the Duke of Infantado’s collection in Spain from 1601 (meaning that its previous attribution to an artist called Padovanino is now unsustainable since he was only 13 when this was written!)
  • infrared examination of the work revealed an underdrawing - but also pentimento (significant changes between the underdrawing and the final painting). 
Some experts now believe that, at the very least, the figure and the red cloth are of sufficient quality to be painted by Titian himself.
The question of attribution is so tricky but by looking at technical and historical evidence we were able to pin it down at least to Titian’s workshop, although the process in Titian’s studio was very collaborative and Titian may well have done some of the underpainting or added some finishing touches. It is now over to connoisseurs of Titian to decide. Alice Tate-Harte, Fine Art Conservator, English Heritage 

The Apsley House Collection

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND art fans visit the art collection hung on the walls of this very prominent house. I had no idea that Apsley House has what is called the "the Spanish Gift".

These are 82 paintings which were removed from the Spanish Royal Collection by Napoleon and then rescued from Napoleon by the Duke of Wellington who tried to return them to the Spanish King.

King Ferdinand VII however considered that the Duke of Wellington had rescued Spain from the imperial ambitions of Napoleon and he was gifted the paintings - which became known as "The Spanish Gift".  They now form the core of the permanent art collection of Apsley House

This important collection of fine art, includes paintings by Velazquez, Goya, Titian, Rubens, Brueghel, Jan Steen, Sir Thomas Lawrence alongside an absolutely outstanding display of porcelain and silver (I thought it more posh than Buckingham Palace!). 

I came away with the impression of a house which has an outstanding art collection.

The Waterseller of Seville by Diego Velaquez
Entering the Ark by Jan Brueghel the Elder
Danae by Diego Velaquez

See Wellington's Titians revealed to be the real deal which talks about the conservation work done on this painting which proved that this is the painting which Velaquez sold direct to the Spanish King Philip II.

Apsley House

Apsley House is located at Hyde Park corner was purchased in 1817 by the 1st Duke of Wellington after his victory at Waterloo. 

As the victor of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, he had been voted £700,000 by Parliament to build a new ‘Waterloo Palace’. Instead of embarking on a new building, however, he submitted an anonymous bid to buy Apsley House (from his elder brother) for £40,000 to help resolve his brother’s financial difficulties.

The house became known as ‘Number 1 London’ although more conventionally it's located 149 Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London, W1J 7NT. It is open Wednesday-Sunday from April until 22 December.

You can read more about on the Apsley House website about