Friday, September 14


Head of Antinous

On Wednesday I decided to take a trip over to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to see their current exhibition entitled 'The Gentle Art: Friends and Strangers in Whistler’s Prints'. This would be my first ever visit to The Fitzwilliam and it will certainly not be my last. I had no idea what artistic gemstones it held within it's walls, infact I had no idea The Fitzwilliam had art at all...I was in for a treat!

The building itself is magnificent, neo-classical in design and founded in 1816. The entrance hall is a grand feast of marble scattered with various figurines and sculptures. Amazingly, admission to the museum is FREE leaving me with enough money to purchase a treat in the museum shop. I chose a book; 'Treasures of The Fitzwilliam Museum', a beautiful souvenir of my day and worth every penny.

So many great artists are on exhibition that I couldn't even begin to list them. I stood in awe of many, puzzled by some and swept away by others. I saw some I knew and hundreds I didn't.

One painting that managed to 'move' me in a way you wish your own art would move others was a piece by Claude Vignon entitled 'St Jerome'. It was hung quite high on the wall as if not to be as significant as other pieces and yet it caught my heart and would not let it go, I stood so long infront of it that I thought my neck would snap. I have since looked Vignon up on the internet but cannot find the painting to link you, however, as I soon discovered St Jerome was not his only piece to stir my emotions. I find his portraiture to have so much character, kindness and emotion and his style to me appeared so down to earth like a 'poor mans' excellence. You can view his 'Lament of St Peter' here.

To ease my neck I headed to the museum cafe for a latte and made use of the many people of the lunchtime rush in my small moleskin sketchbook with my Lamy fountain pen.

Degas ballerinas are my first memory of all things art, I fell in love with them, as many young girls do, but not because I wanted to be a dancer, because I wanted to some day be a Degas! So seeing more of his work was quite special. I was lucky enough to visit the Musee D'Orsay a few years ago where I viewed a sculpture of his ballerina, my first real glance at a Degas. I made a quick sketch before moving on to Monet, Pissaro, Renoir and Sisley etc...So Much to see!

To name but a few pieces that captured my attention:

Salvator Rosa : 'Human Frailty' - A remarkable painting depicting the vanity of mans achievements and the transitory nature of life.

Giovanni Antonio Canaletto: 'St Mark's Venice', 'Grand Canal' and 'Interior Court of the Doge's Palace' - The most amazing architectural works I have ever had the pleasure of standing infront of.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: '94 Degrees in the Shade - With light bouncing from the rich golds of the corn fields and cream linen calmly guiding your eye into the focal point situated at bottom of the work.

Henri Fantin-Latour: 'White Cup and Saucer' and 'White Candlestick' - Both displaying the beauty of a simple subject wonderfully.

Michael Sweerts: 'Old Woman Spinning' - The wetness of her eyes held my attention for some time.

....I could go on...and on....and on!

My Adaptation of Roubiliac's Handel ~ Original- © Fitzwilliam Museum

I had such a fantastic time and, as good times do, it just flew by and I soon had to make my way back to the truck at Trumpington park and ride.
Later that evening I took my new book into the studio and decided to use Roubiliac's 'Handel' as an exercise reference. I studied the picture of the sculpture for some time before closing the book. I then grabbed a charcoal pencil and my A4 W&N sketchbook, working from memory I started to create my sketch, allowing myself further 'peeps' at 5 minute intervals. I decided to add another challenge to this exercise by trying to change the angle of the child in a believable way, here I believe I suceeded, my child has good proportion and appears nicely grounded at his mentors' feet. I did, however, fail to achieve the beautiful, subtle features that Roubiliac mastered so well on Handel himself.
This exercise took 25 minutes and although I found it massively challenging I did enjoy it. I like the way it allowed me to 'use' the reference, allowing room for change, personal interpretation and emotion, resulting in something unique.


Ujwala said...

great sketches, interesting post and that exercise sounds very difficult. I'm wishing that just by a visit to your blog some of your regularity with drawing will rub off on me :D

Joan said...

I love how you challenged yourself that way. Your trip to the museum sounds great. Art really nurturs the soul.

Anita said...

Thankyou so much Ujwala.

Anita said...

Thanx Joan...Yes, it sure does. I'd love to live around the corner from a museum like this, they would never see the back of me!

caseytoussaint said...

What a wonderful, inspiring post, Anita - I also admire your regularity - your resolve never seems to fade! The exercise with Handel sounds so difficult, but worth trying - but I was especially captivated by your 'Head of Antinous'.

Anita said...

Thankyou Casey. I only wish I'd had more time, there were fabulous statues situated all over the entrance hall....I could have spent a month there sketching and not got tired!

Ester said...

beautiful drawings! Your museum trip sounded like lots of fun, I wish I could have gone to it :) And for free! That's so great.

Anita said...

Thankyou Ester. Yes, free! I couldn't quite believe it!
I'll certainly be going back.

Teri C said...

Wonderful body and face sketches! Sounds like a wonderful time.

Anita said...

Thankyou Teri. It was wonderful!!!

ksklein said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. Otherwise I wouldn´t have found this wonderful blog. :)

Anita said...

You're welcome Klein and Thankyou, glad you enjoyed your time here!

phthaloblu said...

I know what you mean about being inspired by museums. Last year we saw the Monet exhibit and they had paintings hanging that we had studied in art school. The one of the cathedral we studied as our instructor explained what kind of light it was and why. We studied it so thoroughly that it because almost bigger than life to me. When I saw it hanging there in the gallery, it was this little canvas, so small. I sat and stared at it for so long my husband came over and asked if there was anything wrong. And I told him no, it was just that I was trying to figure out how he painted something so huge on such a small canvas. I saw Degas when I was in art school at the National Gallery in Washington. Talk about motivating! I always come away from exhibits like that with a high and wanting to go day and night to create.

scott davidson said...

Cityscape seems a good subject for murals. But many themes can of course be painted there, for decoration and as a break and escape from looking at cement. This painting by American painter Charles Sheeler,, would make a good mural as it is as a good painting. The image can be seen as who supplies canvas prints from original art.