We started the course with a brief introduction to the building and how it has evolved (with multiple extensions at the back) and of course that new Sainsbury wing with its' nods towards the architecture in the original façade.
The gallery was actually as is so often the case with public buildings made on a tight budget - bits taken from other projects and corners cut but unlike
|The referential Sainsbury extension|
In fact the Prince of Wales probably raised some very good points and the building fits in with the general environment around Trafalgar Square, Leslie pointed out that the big failure was that the extension was conceived before the days of the 'blockbuster' exhibition and no big space was made in the addition.
|The Gallery -A purpose built home|
Once inside the gallery Leslie explained how the extension was modelled (full size) at Pinewood (Studios) and the resulting perspectives seen have been used to highlight some of the works in the Gallery extension.
I'm hoping to get from the course three main things
1) A better appreciation of composition - by looking at the 'Masters',
2) A feel for the sweep of development of Western Art against the backdrop of changes in society,
3) The changes in materials and methods employed by the artists,
and of course a familiarity with some of the major works and the artists behind them.
I'm pleased to say it started well, the gallery is organised on a chronological basis (which of course has some problems) and during the first session we saw some religious works aimed at a largely illiterate church going population.
The works often described as primitive showed narrative and employed conventions to highlight themes.
The painting we saw (in detail) first was The Virgin and Child Enthroned (reference NG564) at this time artists were not credited and this work was (as was the practice then) painted on wood.
We also looked at the impressive Crucifix by Segna di Bonaventura (NG567) which would have hung above a church Altar it was clear to see that anatomically and emotionally development had taken place when compared to the nearby Crucifix
Thought to be (possibly) the earliest English work on show 'The Wilton Diptych' is painted on Oak, a pointer to UK provenance it's a two part-er which includes a representation of King Richard against a scene which features the infant Jesus (with Mary).
The painting is thought to emphasise a connection between Royalty and Christianity it use expensive paint and gold leaf.
I'm looking forward to more highlights next Thursday!
[One of the great things about the National Gallery Website is the ability to see fine reproductions, by reference number online that can be searched and zoomed in on to see the details.]
Red 177In the heart of London saw this temporary arena
|A large number of red flip down chairs|