London – Treasury of Art

“If Paris is a moveable feast, then London is a banquet of visual delights.”  Le Fabulist

Unsurprisingly, ancient and historic London I discovered to be a treasure trove of great museums and art galleries.  Ambling along the crammed full galleries I found myself scannning a visual map tracing man’s epic journey through the ages in expressing their artistry while often recording history.  From ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans through the middle-ages and on to the modern there’s something magnificent to be seen, studied and admired.  In a few photos I offer but a very small sampling of what I enjoyed in an all too brief visit although always mitigated in my mind as being only a foretaste, a sumptuous appetizer to when more time will permit the full banquet in the not too distant future – well, here’s hoping.  I’ll concentrate on but three of the best London has to offer; the British Museum, the National Art Gallery and the Modern Tate Gallery.

(Note: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.) 

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The British Museum is dedicated to human history and culture, its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. Each of these alone would require days, not hours to properly do justice, nonetheless the essential was seen and admired.

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The British Museum from first sight is an impressive array of buildings featuring a magnificent classical facade. The entrance to the building doesn’t really prepare the visitor for the vast and spectacular inner rotunda.   I’m sure Angela Merkel was equally impressed during her recent visit accompanied by Prime Minister Cameron.  

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A mesmerizing statue of the Buddha caught and held my attention.  Not a great photo since it was difficult to take through the reflecting glass, however it’s the most interesting of poses, one I’ve not seen elsewhere in my travels.  Look at the position of the finger of the right hand on the knee.  

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The section on ancient Egypt was impressive with a fine collection of mummies, sarcophagi and  burial artifacts found in royal tombs.  

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P1120398Statues and artifacts are augmented by thousands of the beautifully gold and leather bound books on display on almost every available wall space.

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P1120367A display of ancient glazed pottery and ceramics demonstrates not much (if anything) has been improved upon in modern times.  

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It takes no great leap of perceptiveness to imagine the artist was a man in love with the female anatomy.   Yet again I mused the ‘ancients’ had the same basic human traits we have today and expressed them artistically just as we do now.   I particularly appreciated the headgear – yeah, sure!

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There was so much to view, admire and slide into the memory bank but time moves on and I moved on to the Tate Modern Museum of Art.  Interestingly it has a reputation that to my knowledge isn’t quite at the high level I’d expect and that I personally felt at almost first sight.  And let me tell you the first sight was a memorable one.   The gallery was a clever reworking of an old, disused power station and what you see in the photo was formerly the turbine room.  

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Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall has played host to some of the world’s most striking and memorable works of contemporary art.  Presently this vast space welcomes the largest work ever created by renowned American sculptor Richard Tuttle. Entitled I Don’t Know . The Weave of Textile Language, this new sculpture combines vast swathes of fabrics designed by the artist from both man-made and natural fibres in three bold and brilliant colours.  The huge, floating sculpture floats high above – you can take an approximate guess by comparing to the tiny figures of onlookers below.   I loved it!

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The Tate is reached via a pedestrian bridge over the River Thames and directly across from St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Oh, and yes, it’s a two way path so one could go from the Tate to St. Paul’s.  Okay, just a bit of dry English humour?  The object of my derision is due to the admittedly less than eye pleasing exterior but what could be expected from a reconverted power plant? The thing is that it provides huge galleries inside and a venue for large and impressive works of art that wouldn’t fit elsewhere.  I enjoyed it a whole lot! 

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The gallery offers a panoply of artistic works by the greats such as Picasso, Dali, Matisse and Warhol – post-modern paintings and varied eclectic works, sculptures and video art  find their rightful niche inside the numerous galleries.  

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I love coffee and I’ll avow never did I enjoy a cappuccino more than at the Tate – it was excellent at a modest price and the view was incomparable to any coffee house I’ve ever sat in.  

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I’m told there’s a new Tate in the process of being built right next to the present one.  I have doubts that it can equal the present one in scope and glory but that’s one man’s opinion.   On to Trafalgar Square to visit the British Museum of Art, another of London’s enduring contributions to the enjoyment and safeguarding of world art.  

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An impressive entrance but nowhere near as imposing as the glorious art collection of world acclaimed artists.  Just to name a few that I feasted on, visually and emotionally (Van Gogh always makes me a little sad,) and in no particular order but I’ll let you test your recognize on your own the artist on display, Renoir, Monet, Manet – all the greats and then some.  

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So there you are, a short but intensive visit to three of the world’s best art venues.  I’m sure you must have had fun identifying the paintings above without my help.  If you missed any let me know and I’ll reveal the name.   My next and final post on London will not be long coming.  Cheerio!

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10 responses to “London – Treasury of Art

  1. Now you’ve done it. Your superb description of the British Museum and its treasures has me hankering to return soon Well done, mon ami.

    • To be candid I felt as if I was cheating myself by spending only an afternoon wandering through each of the three world class venues I shared with you. I’ll let you know when I’m returning and you can join me, the sooner the better. So we don’t breathe too much stale ancient air in museums, as good journalists we’ll most definitely actively research and dig around for the most authentic English pub featuring the freshest local brews, a worthy cultural endeavour you’ll agree.

  2. Cher Jean-Michel, vous nous faites aimez de plus en plus Londres. J’aime toujours votre enthousiasme dans vos récits. Merci pour un autre beau voyage à travers vos écrits.

    • Londres fut sans aucun doute une heureuse révélation inattendu. Merci de votre fidélité, vos compliments sont toujours comme une gentille caresse pour mon amour-propre.

  3. Your comment ” Van Gogh always makes me a little sad” resonates with me.
    I remember you sharing with me that you were quite moved when you saw the collection of his paintings in Amsterdam.

  4. Yes, there’s not another painter that emotionally affects me as do his paintings. The colours he dabbed on canvas bespoke of burning passion and expressed his inner emotional pain more than any others. I have come to view some of his most notable works as poetry expressed in images and colours. The world is a better place for having had Van Gogh.

  5. Appreciation to my father who told me about this website,
    this website is in fact amazing.

    • What a clever father you have and how discerning you are too! This is a labour of love for me so that praise such as you have expressed is very much appreciated. Keep on looking and perhaps you may want to click on the ‘follow’ button and you’ll be immediately notified of any new post. In fact there’s one coming very soon.

  6. LOVE London. Have you been to the John Soane Museum? crammed with amazing things. And free 🙂 Tate always fun for its New or Temporary exhibit. Lorra from scrabble

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