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The National Gallery and Tate Britain

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 11 June 2022 | Views [33]

The National Gallery, free for all

The National Gallery, free for all

WITH THE HIGH PRICES CHARGED TO VISIT English Heritage and National Trust sites around the UK, it comes as a pleasant surprise that London’s Museums are free! You can tour the British Museum, National Gallery, Royal Academy and both Tates and not spent a tuppence! 


                   "Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you"

While many people think of art museums as Don McLean’s “portraits hung in empty halls/Frameless heads on nameless walls,” the National Gallery has its share of famous works, including some by Vincent himself.


                    Velazquez's "Rokeby Venus"


                   Vermeer? I give it thumbs up

Armed with her list of the-best-of-the-best, Connie led the way through the maze, seeking out a Velazquez here, a Caravaggio there, a well-known painting by Jan van Eyck and one probably by Vermeer. I’m no expert but I am willing to concede the authenticity of "A Young Woman Standing by a Virginal"—there are only 35 others to compare it to.


             Rembrandt's Self-portrait at 63


                   An entire room devoted to Rembrandt

The National Gallery has an entire room devoted to Rembrandt, each one a masterpiece. It doesn't compare to the 400 Rembrandts owned by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam but there are certainly enough to impress the likes of me. 


                     If it's by Monet, where are the haystacks?


             "Umbrellas" by Renoir

In almost every art museum we visit all roads—ours, at least—lead not to Rome but to the Impressionists. The National Gallery was no exception. I stopped to study two paintings I didn’t remember having seen. One was “Le Gare St-Lazare,” a very different style for Monet and the other “Umbrellas” by Renoir.


                       The Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is, well, British. Paintings by Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds stand side-by-side. More voluptuous sculptures by Henry Moore than can safely fit are croweded into one room. An entire wing is devoted to JMW Turner who bequeathed his collection to the Tate. There are so many Turners that the eye fights to distinguish a single painting from the mass.


        "Lady Talbot" by Reynolds and Gainsborough's "Sir Benjamin Truman


            More Moore than the room can hold; sculptures by Henry Moore

                   Turners as far as the eye can see

The star of the collection, in our humble opinion, is John Singer Sargent. Singer was a prolific painter with more than 900 oil paintings and 2000 watercolors. We have seen only a small sample of his work but I can't imagine any are superior to the portraits he painted of the Asher Wertheimer family. They make you wish that you were part of the family..


                  Some "Children of Asher Wertheimer" by John Singer Sargent


    More "Children of Asher Wertheimer" by John Singer Sargent

We weren’t the only Singer fans. I watched as a woman sat in front of a painting by Sargent and unabashedly copied it in her sketchbook—left-handed, no less. What's that they say about the sincerest form of flattery?


     Coping Sargent, the most sincere form of flattery


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