Wednesday 3 April 2013

The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein

I took advantage of one of the few and far between sunny days of 2013 to take a trip to The Queens Gallery to see The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein exhibition. 

Before popping in to the show I decided to soak up some of the sunshine outside Buckingham palace and boost my Vitamin D levels.

It looked marvelous with the sun reflecting off the magnificent building and the hustle and bustle of tourists taking in the stunning sight. Queenie was even in so the Royal Standard was flying proud.

The show itself was sublime. The Queen's Gallery if you haven't visited before is a really wonderful exhibition space which is only appropriate as the Royal collection is one of the biggest and best royal collections around. 

Look at that sunshine!

This exhibition focused on the work of Northern European artists in the collection. A branch of art history all too often overlooked and undervalued in favor of the perspectival genius of the Italian Renaissance.

The portraiture component is particularly strong and the walls throughout the exhibition are lined with the faces of some of the most prominent royals, politicians, intellectuals and nobles of the day. The care and attention put into these portraits in self-evident. I was particularly struck by the various artists efforts to create a true likeness of the sitter. The portrait by Hans Memling hanging in the second room is a prime example of this. The careful modelling of the flesh on the face and the inclusion of the fine v shaped lines on the mans necks leaves you in no doubt that you are looking at a face of a man that once walked and talked on this earth. 

The inclusion of various masterful drawings by Holbein and the French artist Jean Clouet and his workshop strengthens the sense that these northern artists were truly observing their subjects during the painting process. Some of the drawings are even shown alongside their accompanying painting and it is interesting to see the alterations that were carried out along the way.

This drawing of Sir Thomas Elyot by Holbein includes what can only be described as an early manifestation of designer stubble!

 Image from Wikipedia
The exhibition is appropriately titled after the two artists Durer and Holbein who contribute the greatest number of works to it's walls. However the important word 'from' in the title should not be missed. This is not an exhibition that simply presents these two artists as the main protagonists of Northern Renaissance art. Oh no it includes and celebrates the work of the undeniably brilliant Hugo Van der Goes, Hans Memling, Quinten Massys, Jan Gossaert, the two Clouets and Lucas Cranach.

It has taken me soo long to publish this that the exhibition is now in it's last week so seize the moment and Click Here to book.

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