Londinium Calling

It was so good to get back to London for a week!

I managed to see awesome members of family and fabulous friends to catch up and check out what they had been up to (my Aunt has taken to making awesome gemstone jewellery, which I’ll share some pictures of later as I bought some of her unique pieces).

Good people, good food – caught up with one of my fabulous fellow writers from Tuscany, AND I managed lots of revisits, sightseeing and shopping!

Places included –

  • National Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Tate Britain
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Sir John Soane Museum
  • British Museum
  • Apsley House
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Hyde Park
  • Bloomsbury
  • City of London
  • Westminster

Here are a few highlights:

Apsley HouseApsley House

  St. Paul'sSt. Paul’s CathedralBMBritish Museum


Art Crush – William Dobson, and the tale of Prince Rupert

I’ve got lots of art crushes – something that I want to explore further here when I have time.  Suffice to say, however that I absolutely love portraits.  If fact, I think I’d like to specialise in them one day.

My art crush for this month is William Dobson.  I discovered him in a roundabout way – via Charles II, his cousin Prince Rupert and the lovely artist Van Dyck.  When I say discover – I heard about Dobson painting a ‘lost’ portrait of Prince Rupert in Charles Spencer’s biography of him – I love anything about him, especially portraits and there are quite a lot of those (and not just by Dobson).

Van Dyck is another hero of mine, a very accomplished (and flattering) court painter for Charles I, and Dobson replaces him when he dies.  The other interesting thing about him is that he painted so few art works before his premature death, and these were during one of the most turbulent times – the English Civil War.

Some of you will have come across Dobson due to the 400th anniversary of his birth this year, and there is a lovely website on him here.  There was also a great documentary linked to this site shown on BBC Four, and this is well worth seeing if you can.  It is also well worth picking up a second hand copy of the exhibition catalogue from the last major exhibition in the 1980s (which I have, it’s lovely), though it has gone up a lot in price recently!

So when are we getting an up to date exhibition on William Dobson?  I’m waiting!


A great book on Rupert – Prince Rupert: the Last Cavalier by Charles Spencer






William Dobson Exhibition Catalogue 1611-1646 by Malcolm Rogers






An engraving of the lost Dobson portrait of Rupert can be seen here.  An old photograph of an unfinished version of the portrait can also be seen here (as well as in the exhibition catalogue).  Scroll down to number 37 for Rupert, but the others are equally interesting.

The is also an interesting book about Endymion Porter (a court subject, who was painted by both Van Dyck and Dobson), from an exhibition from the 1970s.  Endymion Porter and William Dobson is by William Vaughan, and I viewed it via a local Library.

Whilst many Dobson portraits remain in private hands, here are a just a couple of galleries you can view his work:

The Tate Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

So, who else likes Dobson then?  Any favourite portraits?  I also love his portrait of Colonel John Russell.

Field Trips Galore!

Just a quick hello, to thank everyone who has supported me with my study and exams recently – I passed with flying colours!

I am now doing several more History of Art and Scottish History courses.  I thought my regular readers might enjoy hearing about the Field Trips I am doing for the History of Art one.

Every other week, after a lecture on the topic, we take the field trips.  We visited/are visiting the following places:

It’s amazing to get to go out and experience art first hand, and I’d really missed this during my course last term.  Though it’s nice to read books and look at pictures, nothing compares to the real thing – so make sure you get out there and experience some art near you very soon!

I’ve enjoyed all my visits, but I loved the galleries in Edinburgh, and so nice to be able to catch the Young Vermeer exhibition before it finished.  I’ve just recently finished reading The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, so it was a funny coincidence too!

Bletchley Park

Some of you will already of heard of Bletchley.

  • World War II
  • Codebreakers
  • Spies

Some simply because the Victorian house is amazing also.

Or maybe even because you saw the film Enigma, and wanted to know more about the codebreakers.

Truth is, Bletchley needs our help.  It is a charity and relies on donations to keep going.  Not only that you can help by visiting and perhaps even volunteering for them.

Why not get behind Bletchley today?

You can visit the Bletchley Park website, and also follow them on Twitter @bletchleypark

Van Dyck Exhibition

Continuing from my last moment of exhibition excitement, I recently discovered that the Tate is staging a Van Dyck Exhibition.

How gorgeous!  Anyone that has visited the Royal Palaces in the UK must have seen his work, and I love the colours in them.  Great for checking out all the famous people of the day too!  A portrait of Princess Mary, sister of Charles II was recently returned to Hampton Court Palace too, after years in a private collection.

I would really, really love to get to this one, though sadly my exhibitions list grows longer by the day with no sign of it yet.  Sob.

You can check out further information about Van Dyck and Britain at the Tate’s website.  Plus, if you go and don’t tell me about it, I shall sulk.

Thanks Sister Wendy!

I was fortunate enough, a few weeks ago to come across a book called 1000 Masterpieces by Sister Wendy Beckett.  It is a huge hardback book, full of information and of course, the 1000 paintings.  In fact, it is your own personal art gallery, and I have already had hours of fun thumbing through it.  Plus, I got it second hand for the princely sum of £1.50!

It reminded me that I had seen Sister Wendy (a nun) on TV many years ago talking about art in her own engaging style,  some of you may remember.  I feel I owe her for this, as it has really helped me learn more about historic art.

While I am on the subject, there are few exhibitions that I am currently interested in:

Who’s with me?

I have been lucky enough to pick up a copy of the guide to Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow recently also, I would like to get one for the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh next.

Desirable Exhibitions

I’ll subtitle this one as maybe I’ll have the time?

It’s well known here that I love photographs and photography in general so the first exhibition I’d like to see is Vanity Fair Portraits 1913-2008 (14 February-26 May) which is showing at the National Portrait Gallery, London.  I’ve always thought that their photography was of particularly high quality, though I confess I’d probably enjoy the older shots more.

This ties in with my next desirable exhibition, Victorian Artists in Photographs: G.F. Watts and his World (7 January-13 April), which is showing at the Guildhall Art Gallery, London.  I love Watts’ work, plus Victorian art in general, so this is one I’ll actually try very hard to see.

Finally, a place I’ve wanted to see for a while, and is also holding an exhibition is Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire (1 March for 10 weeks), it will be showing a display of costumes from the 2008 BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.  As far as I can tell, they are already showing costumes from the film Becoming Jane also.

Did I mention it will soon be castle season?  Yay!  More places to go…

London Day One: Millais Exhibition

I’d barely made it into town from the airport when it was time to stagger to the Tate Gallery (or Tate Britain if you prefer) for the John Everett Millais exhibition, which has been running since September.

Regular readers will know that I adore the Pre-Raphaelite artists and Millais is one of my favourites. The exhibition is gorgeous, much more than I thought it would be, many more rooms anyway. The works were split into different parts and you were able to wander in between. There were also some artifacts, such as the artist’s easel and brushes, chair etc. which were also quite interesting to see.

I saw my favourite painting ‘Ophelia’ and also looked out for ‘The Black Brunswicker’ and ‘Mrs Perugini’ as the latter are both modelled by Kate Dickens, later Collins and Perugini, daughter of Charles Dickens.

There were many drawings, which were beautifully done, but not my favourite things to see, I love the light, colour and life in Millais’ paintings which I can’t really see in these.

I’d forgotten that it was Millais who painted that famous image of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, and ‘Bubbles’ who is so well known from advertising these days (Pears). It was amazing to see that some family members had preserved the shoes and bonnet worn by one of the child sitters, and they are still in family hands today.

All in all, it is a wonderful exhibition and I recommend that you go and see it if you can. Even if you can’t Millais’ paintings live all over the world, and I’m sure there’s probably one near you that you can visit at a museum or art gallery. That’s the thing really, I fell in love with ‘Esther’ and soon she’ll leave the country of her birth to return home again, that’s one thing that makes me slightly sad about exhibitions…

Millais Exhibition at the Tate Gallery

I’m so excited about this. I’m going to be bogging off to London in December for a week for a couple of gigs, and copious amounts of shopping. Tutankhamun is probably going to be booked up, so I might try and squeeze in the Terracotta Army as well.

My friend told me about this exhibition yesterday, and funnily enough I’ve just acquired an interesting new book about Katey Dickens by Lucinda Hawksley (who also wrote a fantastic book about Lizzie Siddal) one of Charles Dickens’ daughters. The book is simply called ‘Katey’ for anyone interested in getting a copy. I haven’t read much yet, but I’m loving it already.

Lucinda is actually a descendant of Charles, and was so fascinated by a painting of Katey (later in life as Mrs Perugini), this led to her researching and later writing about her life. The painting was by John Everett Millais, so my attending this exhibition was obviously meant to be! Millais also painted the very famous ‘Ophelia’ modelled by Lizzie Siddal, which I’ve talked about previously and was a personal friend of the Dickens’.

Any of you who can get to London for the exhibition, or just want to read a little more about it, can find it on the Tate’s website. I will of course report back in December as to what it was like. 😎