This week I am at last back to presenting my thoughts and images of The National Gallery in London. Although I love the French Impressionists and therefore, the famous galleries in Paris, some of my favourite artists are to be found in this London landmark. I generally like to have lunch in the small restaurant near the entrance, but as we had already eaten at the V&A and we wanted to catch our train back to Banbury ahead of the crowds, we went straight up stairs to the grand galleries where even the walls and timber work are impressive.
When searching through my photo files, I couldn’t find any from this visit, so we have Susanne to thank for the images you see here. I guess that, having stood in front of the same paintings so often, and having many photos of them from precious visits, I must have decided to not bother taking more that day. The main purpose in going there was for me to show my sister the amazing skies produced by Turner.
Amongst his other works, this view of the steam train crossing the bridge, is well known to all followers of English art. Again, the sky is an important feature of the painting. Susanne was suitable impressed.
Constable’s depictions of country life are similar to the realities we had found in Cornwall on our previous trip to the UK. Of course the clothing is different, but the cottages are still there and one can still see boys playing in the streams, having fun with a fishing rod, although I doubt that they’d catch anything today.
My first father-in-law brought this painting of Constable’s to my attention, when he painted a copy of it, probably back in the 1970’s. Seeing the original on my first visit to London a few years later, when I became enthralled by the beauty of the English countryside, I, too, became a fan of John Constable. Susanne and I didn’t have enough time to see everything in the National Gallery that day, but I was delighted to able to show her two of my favourites.
We also saw and admired several works by Gainsborough, who was popular in his day, as a portrait painter for the wealthy members of society who dressed in their finery (as of course one would.) I like this more natural one though, of his daughters playing.
No national gallery in Europe would be complete without a Rembrandt or two (or several) and although we had seen his work in Paris and his self-portraits are almost too common, he had to be included here. I love his attention to detail, especially the way he draws out the character in his depictions of the elderly.
After the seriousness of our discoveries inside the National Gallery, we found a bit of light entertainment outside. I’ve no idea what it was supposed to be about, but these young performers were certainly pretty clever.
I still can’t work out how this chap managed to seemingly float above the ground. My feet were killing me by then and I knew that catching a taxi would soon be difficult, with rain clouds gathering overhead and the rush hour already started, but Sue, bless her, insisted on going to each of the performers and putting some money in their open boxes. That, of course was the purpose behind their show.
The rail service to Banbury is very good, considering the distance from London. We were too tired to manage the ten minute walk back to our flat so got in a taxi. Some of the drivers are polite and helpful but that day we suffered one who must have had a bad day. The vehicle should not have been allowed to operate as a taxi, with seats that were smelly and the ride so rough it felt like the springs had long since died. I was a bit slow getting in and he took off before I’d barely shut the door, never mind finding and fastening my seat belt.
Thank goodness our accommodation had a bath. Nothing like a long hot soak, with a glass of wine on the side. Although we’d eaten well at lunch time, we were both sufficiently hungry to enjoy a good dinner. I love the variety and quality of packaged meals available in Marks and Spencers. With an excellent shepherd’s pie and frozen vegetables, followed by lots of berries and icecream, we went to bed feeling very satisfied, but needing a quiet one the next day.