My apologies for a lack of a post yesterday but I was touring the Italian Lakes and ended up in a non-WiFi hotel. This is the last day of my short break and I am at Milan airport awaiting a flight home.
I will start today’s blog with a question. What do you like best about an art gallery visit? Maybe that is a kind of obvious question but to many people galleries mean different things. I will go to a gallery sort of prepared as to what I want to see, especially if it is a large gallery and I have no hope of seeing everything. I am a great believer in the premise that if you try to see too much, you end up seeing very little. It is like going on holiday and trying to visit too many places. You do visit them all but you miss the soul of the places. You miss the hidden gems of a town and so if you rush around a gallery, you miss their hidden gems and you miss the opportunity of carefully studying great works of art. So back to my original question, what do you like best about art galleries?
For me a visit to an art gallery is not complete without visiting the gallery shop. My bookcase shelves groan at the weight of art books and gallery catalogues I have placed on them over the years. However to take away a piece of the gallery to read and study at your own convenience is an absolute must. Unfortunately when I have taken home gallery catalogues and read them I often kick myself for not reading the details of a painting before I actually stood in front of the paintings itself and thus would avoid the realization that I have missed something.
However most of all when I go to a gallery I like to discover a new artist, whom I have never heard of. To see a beautiful painting by an artist unknown to me is like finding a gold nugget during a walk in the countryside. You admire the landscape on your walk but then this little extra find makes your day. At the art gallery it is the same. You enjoy the paintings of well-known Masters but all of a sudden you come across a new name. For from that discovery you can then learn about the artist and search for his or her other paintings. It simply opens up a new window in your world. When I was looking around the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan a few days ago, I came across a painting by Paul Bril and artist I had not heard of before. Yes, I can just imagine some of you groaning at my lack of knowledge, but that is how it is and I, like everybody, has to build up an artistic knowledge!
Paul Bril was a Flemish landscape painter and was born in Antwerp in 1550. His brother Matthijs was also a landscape artist. Paul, who received Papal Favour, a form of Papal patronage, lived and worked mostly in Rome. His brother died when he was quite young and Paul continued with his fresco work. Paul was also a painter of small cabinet paintings. These were small paintings, characteristically no larger than about two feet in either dimension, but often much smaller. The expression is especially used of paintings that show full-length figures at a small scale, as opposed to a head painted nearly life-size, and these cabinet pictures are painted very precisely, with a great amount of “finish”. From the fifteenth century onwards wealthy collectors of art would keep this type of painting in a cabinet, hence the name, in a relatively small and private room to which only those with whom they were on especially intimate terms would be admitted.
The painting on display for My Daily Art Display is one I saw at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan and is entitled Landscape with a Marsh which he completed in 1590. It is quite small in size, measuring 26cms x 35cms but its size does not detract from its beauty. It is a haunting landscape with just a few wading birds or ducks present at the pool. The water is still but appears crystal clear. The silvery-green colours add a picturesque tranquility to the scene. Wouldn’t you like just to sit on the bank of the pool and let the world pass you by? I know I would.