Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, London

One thing I love about London, or should I say Europe, are the art galleries and museums. They have so many amazing artifacts and works of art by the most famous artists in the world, and I find it amazing that they have all this history and art that are hundreds or years old. Also, many art galleries and museums are free. Yes, FREE. Of course it does have some T&C's, but I think it's so reasonable. Usually, is you're under 18, a full time student (with valid ID) or disabled you get in for free. Some places don't allow international students free admission but you still get a concession price. But, seeing as I'm not a student and I'm eighteen, I wasn't valid for the free admission, I did however get a concession price because of an International Youth Card I bought before I went to Europe. There's also and International Student Card available for purchase. However, some places don't accept Youth Cards and only Student Cards, however there were times went the ticketing office dismissed my Youth Card and still gave me concession prices. So just take note. 

We went to The Courtauld Gallery in London, it was only about ten minutes walking distance from where we were staying, near the London Eye. It's a small gallery that is famous for a lot of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Some famous artist include Van Gogh, Gaugin and Manet. It's a really beautiful building, it's in this building called Somerset House and is next to other buildings that create a courtyard like thing in the middle of all the buildings. Since it was the festive season, there was a ice-skating rink set up. There was also this big Christmas tree and music playing through the courtyard.

Look at the buildings! Look at the cobblestone pathways and the cast iron gates! All the buildings in London were just so beautiful. Inside the gallery, all the ceilings were beautifully carved and painted, to me they were a piece of artwork itself but to the locals they were just ceilings of an ordinary building. The ceilings were just painted so detailed and everything was so intricate and delicate.

This was what you see when you look up at the ceiling outside the door to the gallery.

So here are some artworks, most are paintings.


This painting really intrigued me because of the little sypnosis, it's a oil on canvas called 'A Bar At The Folies-Gergere' by Edouard Manet.

"A Bar At The Folies-Gergere was Paris's first music bar. A magazine described its atmosphere of 'unmixed joy'. It was notorious as a place for men to pick up prostitutes: the poet Maupassant said the barmaids were 'vendors of drink and love'. Here a barmaid is shown before a mirror, which reflects the audience watching a performance.

Manet knew The Folies-Gergere well. He made preparatory sketches there, but he painted the final version in his studio....

.... It is unsettling. An acrobat's feet dangle in the air (top left). The quickly sketched crowed suggests the bustle of the Folies-Gergere. In contrast, the barmaid is detached and marooned behind her bar. Manet as displaced her reflection to the right. She faces us, but the mirror shows her leaning towards a customer. Are we standing in his shoes?"

Where did you ear Gogh?
I felt somewhat privileged to be viewing such famous paintings, from the likes of Van Gogh (who's my favorite). I've seen this self-portrait so many times on the internet, in books, advertising and it's surreal that I actually saw the real original.

They were also show casing this German artist, Durer in a temporary exhibition. All the detail in his prints and drawings are so fine, delicate and intricate. It's amazing what people can do with just their hands and some tools. Many of his works have biblical themes to it and often relate to stories from the Christian Bible.

The gallery is multistorey and the winding staircases were so pretty. The skylight was amazing too. I think there's a lot of effort put in to the construction and design of English buildings. Not only the exterior but the interior is just such a high standard and it's always beautiful and elegant.