Pursuing Art, Fort Worth to London

One of the first connections my husband and I made was a love of art. I rate cities by their art museums: New York, London, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Winter Park, Florida (which has the excellent Morse Museum of American Art).

Even before we left U.S. soil we experienced a surprising, eye-opening exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth with our friends Linda and Kenneth. Not knowing much about noted African-American artist Romare Bearden, I was intrigued by the exhibit “A Black Odyssey,” Bearden’s illustrations of Homer’s classic tale. 

Off to a brilliant start

Off to a brilliant start

Once in London, an early destination was the Tate Modern, after a walk past St. Paul’s Cathedral and across the Millennium Bridge.

St. Paul's Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, from the Tate Modern

St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, from the Tate Modern

Clay art at the Tate Modern

Clay art at the Tate Modern

Shadow art at the Tate Modern

Shadow art at the Tate Modern

We closed the day with a pleasant evening stroll along the south bank of the Thames, past the Globe Theater and  Southwark Cathedral, and cold drinks while watching evening crowds on a warm summer evening.

Globe Theater

Globe Theater

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral

In Yorkshire, my cousin and her husband took us to the Preston Park Museum in Stockton, which was another delightful surprise. It has mostly historical objects, which I’ll address in a separate post, but Gary loved this painting, “The Dice Players,” by Georges de la Tour:

Preston Dice Players Georges de la Tour

Our next art fix was in Edinburgh, where we ducked into the National Gallery of Scotland on a rainy day. We were pleased to see an exhibit of the American painter Frederic Church. My absolute favorite painting, maybe from the whole trip, was this, the portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent.

Isn't she marvelous? (Photo from the Scottish National Gallery web site)

Isn’t she marvelous? (Photo from the Scottish National Gallery web site)

I also enjoyed the stairwell, filled with interesting heads:

Google+ tries to make me tag these pictures as people I know.

Google+ tries to make me tag these pictures as people I know.

Bath is one of the most unusual and interesting cities I’ve ever visited. The Holburne Museum was another pleasant surprise, recommended by the host of our B&B (who was a former Bath mayor) and a short walk from central Bath. It has both art and objects built around the private collection of Sir William Holburne.

Photo from Holburne Museum web site

Photo from Holburne Museum web site

Our next stop after Bath was Cambridge, where we spent much of our time at the Scott Polar Museum and Kings College Chapel (both of which will be featured in future blogs). We got to the Fitzwilliam about 20 minutes before closing, so it’s another museum I want to get back to. Outside the Scott, we had fun with this statue:

'Youth' (1920) by Kathleen Scott

‘Youth’ (1920) by Kathleen Scott

Modest statue

Back in London, we made a must visit to the Courtauld Gallery, where I wanted to view the famous Manet, “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,” which we have a poster of in our house. The portrait of the women holding flowers just captured my attention.

Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Marx Reichlich Woman with Pansy and Lilies of the Valley

Marx Reichlich “Woman with Pansy and Lilies of the Valley”

We couldn’t miss spending time in Trafalgar Square, nor could you miss the huge blue rooster. Fortunately, it’s not there permanently.

Totally out of place in Trafalgar Square

Totally out of place in Trafalgar Square

Also in Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery, is a statue of George Washington, which made us do a double-take. Great trivia question.

G.W. in London

G.W. in London

Most of the museums allowed photography without a flash, but I learned quickly that the National Gallery does not when a guard scolded me, and I just wanted pictures of the flowers!

Forbidden Flowers at the National

Forbidden Flowers

Another pleasant surprise was the Saatchi Gallery, near Sloane Square, which we stumbled across  on our way to the Army Museum (more later). Contemporary, provocative, wonderful gallery that neither of us had ever heard of.

Finally, the Queen’s House  in Greenwich, about which I wrote in my journal: “next was the Queen’s House, which it was at one time but I forget which queen, also an excellent example of Palladian architecture. Lots of maritime and historical painting, including its showpiece, Turner’s “Battle of Trafalgar,” which I didn’t care for, but then I’ve long since tired of Turner. It’s a weird composition, with the ship smack in the middle. At this point I was doing ‘drive-by’ looks at the art. I just got ‘museumed’ out.”

Tulip stairway, Queen's House, Greenwich

Tulip stairway, Queen’s House, Greenwich

There you have it. Even as an art lover I get tired of looking at art or, as I put it: “My eyes get full.”

Not my favorite artist.

Not my favorite artist.

Next: historical museums

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