Painting with Light

The latest Tate Britain exhibition has been a little quiet: no one I know has been, no reviews that I’ve spotted but it’s got the Pre Raphaelites, so what’s not to like?

To be honest, there wasn’t much and this one left me a little cold – I even felt weary of seeing the Pre Raphaelite works, which has never happened before. I was struggling to see what connected the works and at times it just seemed to be the case that here was a photograph produced at the time which the artist used to finish off their work, or in the case of Holman Hunt, days of sitting and sketching and then he used the photograph.

I’m being a little flippant here, but given how quiet it was in there on a Saturday lunchtime, either everyone was at Tate Modern for the opening, or the word is out: it’s dull. The other negative note is that a lot belonged to the Tate and I always think it’s a little naughty to put parts of your collection into a paying exhibition in your gallery.  Putting Rossetti’s ‘Beata Beatrix’ in there when it is a highlight of your free collection seems a little strange as people would come specifically to see it.

There was one fantastic work that I had not come across before, however, and this would be one I would hang on the wall: John Brett’s Glacier of Rosenlaui.


This was an exquisite work with layers of natural beauty executed with skill and precision but with a dreaminess about it with the misty and cloud filled background.

It reminded me of Caspar David Friedrich with the mountain slowly emerging in the background. The realism of the rock formations was a delightful contrast. Brett was greatly influenced by John Ruskin and you can see how that paid off.

Another bonus was Death of Chatterton. A work that is so familiar from the covers of so many novels:


Couldn’t help feeling that this would look really good next to Millais’s Ophelia.

So, not the best exhibition I’ve been to but you can’t like them all!


Loving Turner

temple-of-poseidon.jpgThis is Turner’s Temple of Poseidon at Sunium (Cape Colonna) from around 1834. I confess that I was not a huge fan of Turner’s but that probably was more to do with a lack of knowledge more than anything else. He just did landscapes and seascapes, didn’t he?

That changed when I visited the Tate for their exhibtion ‘Ruin Lust’.

This was a really interesting exhibition and as I went round I came across this watercolour.  At first, it seemed quite ordinary; fitted in with the theme but as I stood in front of it, I found myself dissolving into tears.  Although the room was busy, I felt completely alone and so desperately wanted to walk into that scene where I could sit on the far edge looking out into that turbulent sea.  The light was incredible and it was hard to see this as a painting any more: it was an escape.

This painting changed everything that I had thought about Turner and about art in general.  Someone told me that I’d fallen in love with a Turner. Is that possible? Can you love a painting?  What I do think is that I had connected with someone who could express on a canvas exactly what I was feeling at that time and who understood how it felt to stand there and gaze upon it. Thanks, Mr Turner!