Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A glimmer of light in the January gloom

Urgh.  It's January.  We're back to work.  There's a threat of more snow and there's almost nothing on in the theatre.  It's time to get yourself to the National Gallery.  Yes, the art one.  Every year in January, they take out the J.M.W. Turner RA (1775-1851) watercolours and show them in near candlelight to protect their delicate molecular structure.  The 31 paintings come from a 1900 bequest made by Henry Vaughan, an English collector.  He also left some to the national galleries of England and Scotland, and devised a special, beautiful storage case.  Only one storage case survives and it's also on display in this exhibition.  He even stipulated in his bequest that the watercolours be displayed in low lighting for preservation.  This year's exhibition focuses on the care, storage and display of watercolours, so there's some science in it too.  There's also a small (!) display of exquisite miniatures and silhouettes from the Mary A. McNeill bequest to go along with the Turners.  Turner was obviously well-travelled for the period, with paintings of places all over Europe.  I particularly liked one of the Doge's palace in Venice and another of Assos in Turkey.  The whole thing will take less than a well-spent 30 minutes to view and then you can go to the excellent café downstairs at the Clare St entrance.

The exhibition runs until 31st January in the Print Gallery of the NGI and admission is free. 

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