We spent most of the day at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery in London. This meant there was a good balance of photography, contemporary art works and masterpieces for us to ogle. I saw some of my favourite paintings and both Kate and I enjoyed all those iconic representations of ‘The Tudor’ period. I am currently reading and have almost finished ‘Wolf Hall’ so it was good to see Thomas Cromwell’s portrait.

The AmbassadorsHans Holbein the Younger‘s iconic painting from 1533 looks like it was painted recently. The restoration must have been extensive as it has a HDR-like vibrance about it. My interest in this painting was through reading (and watching) a John Berger essay in ‘Ways of Seeing’. I knew enough to keep Sarah and Lucy pretty interested.

As you probably know, walking to the righthand side of the painting allows one to see the anamorphic skull, in the foreground, clearly. Sarah was heavily into this and kept walking back to the centre, then back again, to immerse herself in the effect. So did I. I love this painting.

We saw some really interesting, for a variety of reasons, photography and installations. Mick Jagger: Young in the 60s was good but Comedians: From the 1940s to Now was just superb. Sarah refused to look at a self-portrait, sculpted in blood, by Marc Quinn and once again, who could blame her. Everyone liked the breathing, digital portrait that blinked but I cannot remember the artist.

We really explored both galleries pretty thoroughly. Sarah, looking thoughtful, said, “if you put all these paintings in a row, they make a journey”. The subsequent praise she received kept her going for another hour or so. It is a long day for a 5 year old but she was great.

We had an amusing incident today. Outside the Portrait Gallery we saw a camera man standing in the middle of the road, risking life and limb, filming a man walking out of the entrance, who appeared to be a television presenter. They did this several times. Lucy asked them what they were doing and they were playing a prank on a friend, Simon Pearson, who had an exhibition (of cartoons?) at another (very minor) gallery. Their idea was to make out that he was exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery. Pretty funny stuff. The pranksters were quite amusing. Lucy and Sarah were subsequently interviewed for the ‘doco’ about their knowledge of the cartoonist.

Cambridge tomorrow.


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