Travels and new aquaintances

The last few months have featured a lot of travel, exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. The downside of moving around lots is that there hasn’t been much time to draw, but that’s the price for seeing lots. Since this is an art blog and I’m not a serious photographer, I’ll leave off travel snaps and simply introduce you to a tiny selection of some artworks and design that have caught my eye in Berlin, New Zealand and San Francisco.


Gothic ruins by Friedrich August Elsasser, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

No surprises why I like this, so much detail yet the voice of the piece is its colour, eerie and mystical, full of romance.

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Die Familie des Malers Fritz Rumpf – Lovis Corinth, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1901.

This picture is stunning for its ambition: bringing a busy, fidgety family together at once, and placed against the backlight of a window. I get the sense that they were painted individually, but imagine that the rest of the family were busy coming and going in the kitchen as the painter worked.


Detail of Medieval retable, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

I wish I had the skills to read this, I’d like to know what each of the lions are being instructed, and explain their reactions. I love that they are painted so simply in crisp line over gold, yet each has an individual character.


Detail from a Medieval retable, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

I fear that this painting has been rather over-enthusiastically restored by the Victorians, but the fluidity of the soldiers still shines through, as they slink and slide in sleep as Christ rises above them.


Portrait by Lucas Cranach

I love Cranach’s pictures, and the boldness he has in accentuating features until people almost become caricatures of themselves. s as much confidence of the artist and his vision embedded in them as the sitters he records.


Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

I can’t find the name of the painter now, but I loved how this picture seems more about the joy of the animals, harmony in Paradise, than about the ongoing of Adama and eve behind.


Portrait by Holbein

Holbein portraits are always mesmirising to draw, his drawings are infuriatingly flat and stripped to their bare essentials, and yet from these and life his paintings are hyper-realistic in a way that can only be made from observation, he’s the main reason I can’t abide many of the photographic-quality paintings at the NPG Portrait Prize.


Wall of five Holbeins, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

dragonDragon relief on the outside of Dunedin’s Fire Station, New Zealand

I love dragons, lions, griffins, and any beast that’s reminiscent of a medieval bestiary. This one must be from the inter-war period, but I loved the idea that a fire-breathing dragon might still symbolise the enemy for modern fire-fighters. Though given New Zealand’s re-incarnation as Middle earth, its now more appropriate.


Late afternoon sun over buildings in Wellington, New Zealand


Lions’ heads holding up canopies, New Zealand


Cast-iron fern designs on a porch fence, Dunedin

The lucky students of Dunedin seem to reside in the most gorgeous Victorian houses in the heart of town. This was appropriately near the city’s Botanic Gardens, and reminded me of my past drawings of Kew Gardens and their white cast-iron staircases against green foliage.


Building signs at Napier, New Zealand


Bear on column, San Franscisco


Virgin and Child – Dieric Bouts

Northern Renaissance Madonna and Childs often feel more realistic than idealised Italian ones. It might be just my interpretation, but I can’t help but feel that this Virgin Mary looks worn out and ha;f asleep having been kept up overnight. Jesus, by contrast, looks like he’s going to try some cheeky at any moment.


Musicians by Edgar Degas, San Franscisco

I’ve only seen this painting in a book, so it was amazing to see the real thing. As ever, looser, freer and sketchier than I anticipated.

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Portrait by Franz Hals, San Francisco Legion of Honour Museum


Early 20th Century print of Boxers

An amazing graphic piece, reminding me of my brother.


Detail of The Adoration of the Magi – Rodrigo de Osona the Elder, Legion of Honour, San Franscisco