Category Archives: Art

Topping the list: Is the National Gallery of Art really the best in the world?

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I’m a serial lover of lists, especially those about art and art museums around the world. A few years back I read a ‘Worlds 50 Best Art Gallery’s’ feature in The Times and thought that I needed to do more to get around them. I kept the paper and I’ve annotated each entry with the date I visited so far managing 29/50 in almost four years. You can read the feature (even if you aren’t a subscriber) on the following three links.

There are many other lists out there: Trip Advisor even has its own crowd sourced version, the Independent has a particularly good list of the UK and the Telegraph has a decent one on a largely European city basis. You can even do the online equivalent of rating yourself using this link. I make the top 1% Continue reading Topping the list: Is the National Gallery of Art really the best in the world?

A tale of two Cultural Cities

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The very concept of what constitutes culture arouses a fair bit of discussion even in my office, not least as one of my colleagues originally hails from Hull. On 1st January 2017 the city will take up its place as the UKs City of Culture. I could just about cope with understanding the concept behind Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. But I just don’t see Hull as cultural. Perhaps it’s simply because I grew up not a million miles away.

The UK isn’t alone in having its own city of Culture and I was recently fortunate enough to spend a day in the beautiful northern Italian town of Mantua. Continue reading A tale of two Cultural Cities

One you won’t find in the guide book… Vienna

parlament-viennaVienna is a beautiful city with attractive architectural delights and an array of fantastic coffee houses such as Demel or Hotel Sacher. There is so much to see and do that invariably you need a guide to help you plan beforehand. We have found the Lonely Planet Guides as good as any and have a shelf full of them at home.

But they really don’t cover everything. Continue reading One you won’t find in the guide book… Vienna

If you could take away just one thing from… Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna)

Maria-Theresein-Platz, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

The Kunsthistorisches Museum or KHM, as it’s known to locals, is an absolute must on any trip to Vienna. Its collection is a superb treasure trove of art to rival the worlds very best. The building itself is in my humble opinion the most beautiful major museum in the world. I’m not trying to do down either the Louvre or the Hermitage (both are beautiful), it’s just that the KHM edges them out. Continue reading If you could take away just one thing from… Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna)

David Hockney: a contemporary colossus

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Contemporary art, I confess, isn’t really my thing. There are the odd exceptions: Lucian Freud, for instance. But my coming to terms with contemporary art owes much to one man. Perhaps it’s the fact he’s from Yorkshire which means I was always more likely to be receptive.

David Hockney must by some distance be our greatest living artist. His shows have for years drawn public and critical acclaim and his latest, David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, at the Royal Academy is no different.   Continue reading David Hockney: a contemporary colossus

If you can see just one thing in… Dublin

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No, it’s not the Book of Kells… Often it’s hard to pick out just one thing as a real highlight from a trip. Dublin’s most famous work of art is undoubtedly the Book of Kells. It’s beautiful but, well, manuscripts however fine don’t really do it for me.

So if you want to see something equally world class make the short walk over to the National Gallery of Ireland. Entry is free and there’s nothing like the volume of people you’ll find queuing up over at Trinity College.

On display you will quickly find a real masterpiece. It’s a great example of Vermeer at his absolute best. Continue reading If you can see just one thing in… Dublin

Michelangelo and other treasures from the Portland Collection

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I love going home to Yorkshire but often I need something else to do to help pass the time. Family chit chat isn’t really me. So when I first read of the opening of the Portland Collection at The Harley Gallery, I thought it made the perfect trip. Art and history combined in less than an hour’s drive from my parents.  Continue reading Michelangelo and other treasures from the Portland Collection

Wentworth Woodhouse: a slumbering great English country house

 

The Palladian east faÁade of Wentworth Woodhouse, which lays claim to be the longest in the country

Blenheim, Burleigh, Chatsworth and Castle Howard: the English country house is a thing of beauty. Each year millions of us visit these great ancestral piles from a bygone age. One long forgotten house deserves to be returned to the roll call of the greats. More fortunate than some, Wentworth Woodhouse has not survived until today without showing her age.  She is, however, even in her present condition, exceptional.

Continue reading Wentworth Woodhouse: a slumbering great English country house

Here’s looking at me: Rembrandt by himself

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Why are we so drawn to Rembrandt? He is one of the few old masters who you could be confident the non-art fan might recognise. Like today’s superstar politicians, Boris or Obama, he needs no name other than Rembrandt. I can’t but feel that it has something to do with his universality. There is something in him which we can all like. The confidence of youth as he makes his way in the world. The good time Rembrandt, out enjoying himself with his beautiful young wife in the Prodigal Son in a Brothel, or the old Rembrandt, slightly saggy and down on his luck, yet radiating a quiet dignity. Every stage of life is there for us to see. Continue reading Here’s looking at me: Rembrandt by himself