Friday was my second day in London. I decided to take a leap of faith and try to navigate my way around London. Luckily, my friend is a master navigator who also had a map of London which was quite helpful.
We made our way down to Hyde Park where we walked along the paths. It was a beautiful sixty degree day and my stomach was full from my Pret croissant. Everyone was out and about because the sun was shining and the light breeze ruffled the dampness off the benches. We ended up at a duck-pond where Swans floated and ducks ate bread from small children. We came to a meadow of yellow flowers with a wooded area nearby. We sat down and basked in the golden sun shining down from the heavens.
After sunning ourselves in Hyde park we walked along the paths. I was astounded at how active everyone is with their children! There were so many mothers and fathers out in their jogging attire while their children would roller blade or bike alongside them. It was inspirational in a way. I haven’t seen even one larger person since getting here and this and eating clean may be a reason why. I think working out and getting your children involved in exercise is a valuable way to interact and set a positive example for your children. Next, we got lunch- at Pret of course, and then walked to The National Gallery.
The amount of people outside was astounding. This was partly because it is The National Gallery and also because there was a reenactment of Christ’s Journey to the Cross happening right in the square outside of the Gallery. It reminded me of the Mystery Plays that were put on in Medieval Times. We watched a little bit of the reenactment and then made our way into the Gallery. I was amazed at the shear size of it! There were so many wings and it had to span at least three city blocks. Inside there were many dignified looking rooms that help precious paintings from hundreds of years ago. I could gush for years if I spoke of every painting I fell in love with. I’ll stick with a few of my favorite painters.
Alesso Balvonetti painted profile view of a girl titled “Girl With The Hair” in 1465. I recognized it from art books I used to look at when I was younger. I remember learning that it was fashionable for young women to shave their hairlines further back along their heads. This was quite apparent in this painting. It was neat to connect two things I had learned in my younger years together in one painting.
I think “starstruck” is what you would call how I felt when seeing Da Vinci’s works. Never in my life did I think I would see such splendor in real life. My throat got tight and chills went down my spine as I studied the angel faces he created with such simple elegance. If I can ever strive to be like someone when I paint people it would be him. He knew how to capture a mystery that shrouds each person he painted. They all look like they know a funny secret that they cannot tell you. I am obsessed. Okay I’m done fan-girling.
Picasso’s Sunflowers are also in the National Gallery. It was so rewarding to see a paining that is so famous and can be seen in prints on T-shirts, folders, calendars, or really anything. I thought Picasso’s works were especially phenomenal to look at because there wasn’t glass over the top of the frame. If I had extended my arm a half foot I could have literally brushed my hand along the texture of his painting. The painting that Picasso painted with his own hands so long ago. CRAZY. I would never but I will admit it was tempting.
I also was fortunate to see a lot of Rembrandt’s work! Rembrandt’s work fascinates me to no end. It’s so perfectly mastered and realistic. So long ago it’s not like they could just mix up a tube of paint and slap it on with a brush. There was so much more time involved, so much more expertise and care taken. I respect Rembrandt for taking that time and being so talented at getting proportions colors spot on. So much love.
Cezanne’s work is something that just two or three years ago I would have past by without paying much attention to. It seems ordinary at first but I knew the background behind Cezanne. Knowing the background gave me the insight to appreciate his art for what it really is- pure genius. In my Aesthetics class I wrote a paper on how Cezanne paints. He focused on painting in a way that looks like how things really look to the eye. The philosopher Merleau-Ponty wrote an essay called Eye and Mind which praised Cezanne’s painting style among other things. Cezanne struggled with suicidal thoughts most of his life and became quite reclusive in his end days. His goal was to paint like the eye or how the eye saw things- always moving and never 100% still. Many other artists capture everything like a photograph would. Cezanne didn’t agree with this approach. Everything in his paintings is a little disproportional and seems almost like it might be in motion. I really like that.
The National Gallery was an experience that I dream of letting others experience with me someday.