Today we took a jaunt to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to see their paintings. This is somewhat like the Smithsonian in that it houses all sorts of stuff in a Victorian building that was designed like a palace. Therefore, you must walk through lots of rooms of silver and gold knicknacks to get to the paintings. There is no direct way to get from one place to another.
The paintings are primarily British artists with some notable exceptions. Delacroix is represented as are several painters of the Barbizon school. However, the best reason for an artist to visit this museum are the two rooms dedicated to J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. Wow! One room is filled with Constable’s plenn aire oil studies on paper that were used for large works in the studio. These really demonstrated his method of working up a finished painting. Many of these studies are beautiful paintings in their own right.
Another surprise were oil on glass transparencies painted by Thomas Gainsborough. These were viewed through a special box viewer that included a magnifying lens and candles behind the glass. It was quite the thing in Victorian England and the paintings are still beautiful today.
We hustled back to our lodging to order pizza and stuffed jalapenos in time to catch a TV special. It was Andrew Lloyd Weber presenting a documentary about the Pre-Raphaelites of the 19th century. He is a collector of their work and quite knowledgable. The show highlighted a couple of paintings we have seen at the Tate as well as many we did not know before. It was a great educational show. Now we’re settled for the night.
Home in three days.