--> Trafalgar Square WC2N 5D
Thursday 15 December
Linda and I naively thought that a third visit might mean that we had seen all the rooms, but of course we were wrong, and after an immersion in 17th century art, particularly Dutch and Flemish, we felt we needed to call it a day. We do own an amazing number of remarkable pictures (by 'we', I mean the nation, not Linda and me, obviously)
So we set off from the Sainsbury Wing, where we had met, and crossed to the older part of the building which, paradoxically, contains the more modern works, and started in Room 16, which contains two lovely Turners and a couple of Claudes as well.
As so often, it occurred to us that we could go to Tate Brit any day of the week, and wallow in Turners, but the trouble with living in a city is that we leave its treasures to visitors.
We then moved into the Dutch galleries, which we enjoyed even more. A painting by Ter Borch showed a soldier dictating a long letter, presumably to his girl, while an officer stands by looking bored, and a Netscher depicted a young girl studiously learning to read while a small boy messes about on the floor: stereotyping which students of modern education will recognise.
Then there were a couple of wonderful de Hoochs. If anything were to turn me to a life of crime, it would be my longing to possess a de Hooch. We were pleased to see a Fabritius, having read that book The Goldfinch, and of course the lovely Vermeers.
More action packed were the Art Gallery, and an Avercamp ice scene, as well as the Elder Breughel's depiction of the Three Kings visiting the infant Christ. There were quite a few of the Breughels that seem to have been reproduced by his son and the studio from templates left by the Elder.
We slipped fairly rapidly through a room full of vases of flowers, which, Linda pointed out, reflected this golden age for the Dutch United Provinces: the porcelain of the Far East filled with tulips which were the western craze of the moment. Several of the vases had snail and other bugs on them, presumably to denote mortality.
We then came to a room which had a Poussin (Moses being found) as well as some other French paintings, including Le Sueur and Philippe de Champaigne, whose pictures of Cardinal Richelieu are interesting.
The next room contains a number of pleasant surprises, including a charming Rubens of Susanne Lunden with all her clothes on and a pretty straw hat. Linda and I agree that we do not enjoy the more normal Rubens style, of ladies who could do with some Pilates classes to firm them up a bit.
We also liked the Jacob van Oost portrait of a thoughtful eleven year old boy. The plain wash background seemed to us rather modern, a bit like Annigoni's 1956 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Van Dyck's portrait of Cornelius van Geest was striking, and then we moved into a Spanish Room, including a lot of works by Murillo, who was clearly much to the taste of British Collectors in the 18th century.
This room also contains a number of splendid works by Velasquez, including the so-called Rokeby Venus, famous for being slashed by the suffragette, Mary Richardson, in protest at the arrest of Mrs Pankhurst. We could not see the marks of the knife, which we gather fell between her shoulder blades.
Room 24 is a place to linger, as it has a number of remarkable Rembrandts, including Belshazzar's Feast and a lovely picture of a woman, paddling in a stream. Our photographs went rather blurry, so there are links to the pictures instead. The Woman Taken in Adultery was also striking; all those nominally religious people who condemn others for sinning could do with checking out what Jesus said in the event depicted by Rembrandt. There were several portraits of old people and indeed of the artist himself.
We had seen many more wonderful works than I have mentioned here; we really appreciated the captioning, which told the story or explained the reference points of each work. We shall be back; but we shall also remember that the 17th century galleries would be a great place to pass an hour or so any day of the week.