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.
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.