Sunday, 30 November 2014

Verrocchio's David

Here's the third of the Davids to be found in the V&A Cast Room, a plaster cast of Andrea del Verrocchio's bronze David (1473-75) commissioned by the infamous Medici family. I find this the most convincing of the three Davids in the Cast Room. Verrocchio's David is youthfully well formed, rather than a pretty boy, and he isn't starkers. I can't imagine a future king of the Israelites parading about in the nuddy to take pot shots at Goliath. The myth is he had to remove his armour to wield his slingshot. Okay, but starkers... (CLICK).

Bernini's David

While browsing the web for Davids sculpted by different artists yesterday, I chanced upon one of my old graphics from my defunct website Coxsoft Art. Using XnView and Paint, I had combined three images to convey the dynamic action of Bernini's David (1624). This is no pretty youth standing in triumph with a foot on Goliath's decapitated head, but a rugged man in his prime in the act of wielding his slingshot to kill his enemy. I'm glad to see that my graphic is still in the public domain. CLICK to view a larger version.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Cast Courts

A fortnight ago I posted news that the refurbished Italian Cast Court, now renamed the Weston Cast Court, would be reopened to the public on 29 November (CLICK). Today's the day. Here's a view of the gallery showing Michelangelo's David towering above the doors at the far end. Two more David masterpieces are there, one by Donatello (my sidebar) and one by Andrea del Verrocchio. CLICK for more information.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Chess Champ 2014

To avoid being seen as a plonker when discussing chess in your local pub, take note that the FIDE World Chess Champion 2014 is Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen (right). In Sochi he pulverised five times World Champion Vishy Anand (left) from India so effectively that the closing ceremony was held three days earlier than planned. And guess who was there signing autographs for young fans and trying not to look like Russian Mafia, our old chum Vladimir Putin. This was the first time the president of any nation hosting the World Championship has been present at the closing ceremony. The next FIDE World Chess Championship will be held in the USA in 2016 (CLICK).

Star Wars 7

BBC News is getting excited about the teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due to hit cinemas on 8 December 2015. It has posted stills from the teaser. British actress Daisy Ridley has a new form of hover transport. There's a light sabre with cross-shaped hand guards and a cute little droid that looks like one of those nested Russian dolls. View the YouTube video, then CLICK for the BBC stills.

Drawn by Light

Here's a brief YouTube trailer for the exhibition Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection, which opens on 2 December in the Media Space of the Science Museum in London, Floor 2. This is the world's oldest surviving photographic society, founded in 1853. The exhibition will show 200 works by some of the greatest names in photography. Admission costs £8 for adults (with donation). Silver surfers can get in for half price on Mondays and Tuesdays from 3pm. The show runs until 1 March 2015 (CLICK).

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Egypt in Essex

What is it about Essex that ancient Egyptian sarcophagi keep turning up there? In September a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus lid found in a house in Bradwell-on-Sea sold at auction in Cambridgeshire for £12,000, four times its estimate of £3,000. The one shown here was found in a house clearance in Colchester by auctioneer Mark Stacey. It is thought to have been in the owner's family for about 60 years and may have been acquired after a museum closed down. Reeman Dansie Auctioneers in Colchester sold it for £13,500 (CLICK).

Post Pop

Yesterday the Saatchi Gallery in London opened Post Pop: East Meets West. The exhibition brings together 250 works by 110 artists from China, the former Soviet Union, Taiwan, the UK and the USA to explore the legacy of Pop Art in countries that have had very different and sometimes opposing ideologies. Shown is Wang Guangyi's Great Criticism: Benetton (1992). Admission is free (CLICK).

New Dinosaur

This drawing of Pentaceratops aquiloniua (2014) by palaeontologist Dr Nick Longrich from the University of Bath in England depicts a new species of dinosaur he identified from studying remains in a Canadian museum. The fossilised bones of two horned dinosaurs from the ceratopsian family had been in the museum's collection for 75 years. Dr Longrich found they were two previously unknown species. It suggests that dinosaurs are more diverse than once thought and that there are many more still to be discovered (CLICK).

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

John Smart 2

Yesterday Philip Mould & Company opened John Smart: A Genius Magnified at the Philip Mould Gallery, 29 Dover Street, London. The portrait shown here is John Smart's Portrait of an Unknown Lady (1777). Since first mentioning this exhibition I've identified the "Unknown Lady". She is Ann Hurlock. CLICK to see her miniature portrait on a snuff box and note she appears to be wearing the same dress in both portraits.

NEAC at Mall

On Friday 28 November the New English Art Club opens its Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London. Over 400 paintings, prints and drawings by NEAC members, as well as selected work submitted by the public, will be on display, showcasing some of today's finest figurative painters. Shown is Town Hall, La Paz, Mexico by Jacqueline Williams NEAC. Entry costs £3 or £2.50 silver surfers (CLICK).

First Folio Found

This valuable, if begrimed, Shakespeare First Folio published in 1623 has been discovered by Remy Cordonnier, a French librarian in Saint-Omer, near Calais, while he was selecting books for an exhibition on historic links between the local region and England. Only about 230 copies of the First Folio were published. This find brings the number up to 233. On Saturday the book was authenticated by Eric Rasmussen, a First Folio expert from the University of Nevada, USA. This is the first new find in a decade (CLICK).

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Pin-up Art

It had to happen. Christie's London has been seduced by cheesecake. It's holding its first collaborative online sale of Vintage Posters and Photographs: The Art of the Pin-Up. Shown are two very famous examples of 20th Century pin-up art: Jean-Gabriel Domergue's L’Été á Monte-Carlo (c.1937) and Andre de Diene's photo of Marilyn Monroe on Tobey Beach (1949). The former is estimated at £2,000 to £3,000, the latter at £3,000 to £5,000. There are male pin-ups too. The sale closes on 3 December. CLICK to register.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Cumberland Suite

A new art gallery has opened at Hampton Court Palace. The Cumberland Art Gallery occupies a recently restored Georgian suite of rooms at the heart of the palace. The suite was designed by William Kent for William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II. The new gallery will display changing exhibitions of paintings mainly from the Royal Collection. I was interested to note that two scandalous women were chosen for inclusion in the inaugural exhibition, put side by side. On the left is Sir Anthony van Dyck's portrait of his mistress Margaret Lemon (c. 1635-1640) with breast coyly exposed. On the right is Artemisia Gentileschi's feminist statement Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1630-1639). There are also masterpieces by Holbein, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bassano and Gainsborough plus a room full of Canalettos (CLICK). Admission costs £18.20.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hamilton Wins

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton for winning his second drivers' World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today. Here he is celebrating with his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. It's also a celebration for Mercedes GP, which built his winning car in Great Britain (CLICK).

Tate Worlds

Tate has teamed up with leading Minecraft mapmakers to create virtual 3-D worlds for your edification. This Minecraft map (2014) is based on Christopher Nevinson’s painting The Soul of the Soulless City (1920) depicting New York. From tomorrow onwards Tate Worlds maps will be available free to players of Minecraft on PC or Mac only. They were created in Minecraft V1.8. Players will need the latest version of Minecraft to explore the new maps (CLICK). I must admit I got hooked on Sim City and Populous, but I've not tried Minecraft.

Paul Cézanne

I'm no fan of artist Paul Cézanne, whose quality of work I believe is wildly overestimated, but his daubs do fetch a pretty penny. The Paintings of Paul Cézanne is an online catalogue raisonné under the direction of Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash. For the very first time the new database allows free public access to full-colour images of all known paintings by Cézanne, updated from John Rewald's 1996 print version of the catalogue raisonné. You need to register to use the database, but that's a doddle. Coxsoft is registered. CLICK to begin. The image shown is Cézanne's La Montagne Sainte-Victoire et Noir (1904-06).

Hitler Sold

A watercolour by Adolf Hitler, together with the original bill of sale, has been sold for 130,000 euro thingies (£103,000) at an auction by Weidler in of all places the central German town of Nuremberg, where the Nazi war crimes trials were held. Munich City Hall (1914) was put up for sale by two elderly sisters whose grandfather had bought the painting in 1916, when Hitler was still a struggling artist rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. If only they'd accepted crap artists as modern art schools do, World War II and the deaths of millions of people, including six million Jews in concentration camps, might have been averted (CLICK).

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Mike Nichols RIP

Recognize her? If you haven't seen Closer (2004) you'll find it difficult to recognize Natalie Portman. She won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the film. It was directed by Mike Nichols, who died this week at the age of 83. BBC News has posted stills from his movies to illustrate his career: CLICK.

Two Women

The most interesting painting I've seen today is George Bellows' Two Women (1924) which fetched $1,265,000 in Bonhams New York auction of American Art. Leading light of the Ashcan School, Bellows was renown for the gritty realism of his paintings of the urban poor in New York City. He painted Two Women a year before he died. The work is less impressionistic than some of his earlier paintings, but the gritty realism is still there in this double portrait of a brothel madam and a beautiful young prostitute (CLICK).

Friday, 21 November 2014

$44m Jimson Weed

Behold the most expensive painting by a female artist ever sold at auction. Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 by late US artist Georgia O'Keeffe sold for $44.4m (£28.8m) at Sotheby’s New York auction of American Art. The painting was one of three O'Keeffe works put up for auction by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sold to benefit its Acquisitions Fund (CLICK). Wanna Picasso?

Lost Wilkie Found

A generous legacy from art teacher Miss Marcia Lay has helped The National Gallery in London buy Scottish artist Sir David Wilkie's A Young Woman Kneeling at a Prayer Desk (1813). The painting was lost for more than 140 years. London-based art dealer Ben Elwes recognised the painting as a Wilkie when he saw it in the catalogue for a sale in New York. The sitter is thought to be Lady Augusta Phipps, who died in 1813 aged just 12. The painting needs a good clean. I've tweaked its gamma setting to bring out its colours (CLICK).

Venus Disrobing

This morning I chanced upon Lord Frederick Leighton's Venus Disrobing (not to be confused with his Venus Disrobing For The Bath) and noticed this little girl sitting at the feet of Venus, gazing up at her. The girl's dress looks totally out of keeping with Greek mythology. In fact as Venus's handmaiden she should be in the nude. Her dress appears Victorian. So is this an example of Trompe-l'œil (French for "to deceive the eye"? The Victorian viewer would be drawn into the picture by the illusion of a little girl sitting at Venus's feet. Sadly, the painting is in a private collection and I can't even find its date, let alone a commentary. CLICK to see it.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Major General Wolfe

This uninspiring portrait of Major General James Wolfe by Thomas Gainsborough was almost certainly commissioned by the family of Katherine Lowther to celebrate her engagement to Wolfe in 1758, prior to his military expedition to kick the Frenchies out of Quebec. After a long siege, he captured Quebec City and became a hero, but caught three musket balls during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and died aged only 32, one year after his engagement. So he never married his fiancée. The portrait comes up at Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale in London on 3 December, estimated at £120,000 to £180,000 (CLICK).

Elgin Marbles

The Greeks want their marbles back. They've been moaning about them for yonks, but now they're virtually bankrupt they want them even more, probably to sell to the J. Paul Getty Museum. They have Amal Alamuddin Clooney (wife of George Clooney) taking up the cudgels on their behalf. UNESCO has agreed to act as mediator in the long-running dispute. And yesterday their latest ploy was unveiled at Athens airport: a picture of the Parthenon and its marble statues on an interactive screen. Travellers are asked "Do you support the return of the Parthenon marbles? Yes" or "No". The Elgin Marbles are named after British diplomat Lord Elgin, who had them shipped to Britain in the early 1800s. Some diplomat! But he did a deal with the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled Greece, and the British government bought the marbles, which have been in The British Museum for 200 years (CLICK).

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Peder Balke

The National Gallery in London is showing the first ever UK exhibition of pioneering 19th-century Scandinavian artist Peder Balke. Thanks to a collaboration with the Northern Norway Art Museum and international loans, over 50 of Balke's paintings are on display in the Sunley Room, admission free. He was the first painter to venture into the North Cape, where he was captivated by the beauty of the landscapes. Shown is his North Cape (1845). Sadly, his art lacked commercial appeal and he became a politician (CLICK).

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

World Toilet Day

There seems to be a World Day for just about everything except bankers and jihadists. Did you know that tomorrow is World Toilet Day? And there's an exhibition in London for it. Photographers from Panos Pictures teamed up with Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) to photo women and their toilets and document the effect loos have on their lives. Shown is high school student Flora, 19, who lives in Chamanculo C in Maputo, Mozambique, with her mother, sister and niece. She shares a toilet with several other families living nearby. "I hate using the toilet. Sometimes men peek over the fence. There is no privacy." According to the United Nations 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. The exhibition My Toilet: global stories from women and girls is at the The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery until 22 November (CLICK). Entrance is free. CLICK for more photos.

Yeo's Prints

The inaugural exhibition at Lazarides Editions gallery on London's South Bank is Jonathan Yeo: The Print Retrospective, opening on 20 November and running until 20 December (CLICK). Among the celebrity portraits is his famous portrait of George W. Bush, a montage made up of flesh tones taken from pornographic magazines. He's given bunga bunga champion Silvio Berlusconi the same X-rated treatment. Shown is his Mammary Augmentation. I don't know who these belong to. Signed limited editions of Yeo's prints don't come cheap: £1,000 to £2,000.

Monday, 17 November 2014

UK Bird Flu

Bird flu has turned up in the UK at a Yorkshire duck farm, probably imported by a migrant bird from Germany or the Netherlands. It reminded me of this neat little cartoon from the last bird flu scare back in 2008. The strain found recently isn't the human killer strain (CLICK). So don't panic!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

G20 Summit

Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin got up Australia's nose at the G20 summit by turning up with a flotilla of warships and almost everyone else's nose by ignoring complaints about his stoking up the war in Ukraine; but he took a photo op. to cuddle a koala with PM Tony Abbot to show what a nice guy he really is. The koala he's holding looks as nervous as hell. Frozen out, the oligarch caught his jet home for a kip, leaving the rest of the G20 leaders looking smug and promising a 2.1% increase in economic growth regardless of whether the planet can sustain it (CLICK). Climate change? What climate change? Is such growth even possible, what with earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, droughts, floods and mad Muslims trying to start World War 3?

War Horse

I'm surprised the BBC didn't save Steven Spielberg's movie War Horse (2011) for its Christmas schedules. but I guess it wanted to extend the World War 1 outbreak commemorations a while longer while we still have remembrance poppies in our buttonholes. Based on Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel, War Horse follows a plucky steed named Joey around the battlefields of Europe while his former young owner tries to bring him back home. The film was nominated for 6 Oscars, but was pipped at the post. It's on BBC One tonight at 8pm (CLICK). I'm not sure even a Steven Spielberg blockbuster can keep me awake for 2 hours 20 minutes, but we'll see.

Arise, Sir Daniel

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis received his knighthood for services to drama from the Duke of Cambridge at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday. Sir Daniel is the only actor to have won three Oscars in the leading role category, his latest being for Lincoln (2012). The only other triple Oscar winners, Walter Brennan and Jack Nicholson, include supporting roles (CLICK).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Atlantis 2

This evening I thought I'd try Series 2 of BBC's Atlantis, the programme that takes every liberty with Greek mythology the writers can imagine (CLICK). Mainly I wanted to see how Princess Ariadne, played by the lovely Aiysha Hart, got on. She's Queen Ariadne now and Atlantis is under attack by the evil Pasiphae, who poisoned Ariadne's father. Jason and his chums Hercules and Pythagoras are Ariadne's protectors. If you missed series 1, that's about all you need to know. The start of Series 2 was mostly set at night, so we had to peer through flickering torchlight. It must save a fortune on sets. Will the traitor be unmasked?

Discerning Eye

The ING Discerning Eye annual exhibition opened at the Mall Galleries in London on Thursday and runs until 23 November. This year a record 657 works were selected for the show. These are small works, as you can see from Felicity Gill's soppy Childs Play. All the works are for sale. Admission is free. CLICK for the Discerning Eye website, where you can view an online gallery of works in the exhibition.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cheesecake Shirt

Where did he get that cheesecake shirt? Tesco? Marks and Sparks? Dunn & Co? Having helped land Philae on a comet 10 years and 4 billion miles away, Physicist Dr Matt Taylor has every right to look pleased; but his shirt with scantily clad young women wearing the occasional garter raised a Twitter storm of feminist protest. Some people are so small minded. The Rosetta project is an historic milestone for humanity, but the Tweeters need to spoil it with gender politics. Today Dr Taylor made a tearful apology for his shirt as though he were in the wrong. What a wimp! When Emma Watson addressed the UN on HeForShe and said It's my body and I'll do what I want with it, she received a rapturous ovation. That's what Dr Taylor should be telling the feminist Tweeters, not blubbing (CLICK).

Doctor Who's Fall

Doctor Who lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat has played down the show's fall in ratings (CLICK). That's a bad mistake. He should learn from the defection of viewers to, of all things, The X Factor. Series 8 was a waste of the fine acting talents of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, shown here at the BAFTA Britannia Awards in Los Angeles. Ripping off Robin Hood, Fantastic Voyage, Murder on the Orient Express, Web and something akin to The Day of The Triffids revealed the writers' paucity of fresh ideas. Setting the series in a school was a mistake. The Doctor's soul-searching - Am I good or bad? - was a mistake. Clara's running argument with him was a mistake. Her romance with the incompatible ex-soldier was a mistake. (I was glad to see him take off on a tail of fire in the final episode.) The special effects are great, but the plots are idiotic! New writers are urgently needed.

Victorian Obsession

If anyone is still dithering over lashing out £10 (£6 for silver surfers) on A Victorian Obsession: The Pérez Simón Collection at Leighton House Museum, let me persuade you. This is Coxsoft's Exhibition of the Year. I've twice previewed it: CLICK, CLICK. The Paris title Desire and Sensuality is much more seductive than the Leighton House title A Victorian Obsession, which strikes me as a put-down. The exhibition has toured Paris, Rome and Madrid to great critical acclaim. Its showing in Leighton House is its last before it goes back to Mexico. Alma-Tadema’s magnificent The Roses of Heliogabalus (1888) hasn't been exhibited in London since 1913. Shown is a detail from Frederick Goodall's The Finding of Moses (1885). The exhibition opened today and runs until 29 March 2015 (CLICK).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Allen Jones RA

Today the Royal Academy of Arts in Burlington Gardens, London, opened Allen Jones RA. The aged pop artist isn't very pop with feminists. This sculpture Chair (1969) was attacked by a feminist who thought it demeaning to women. It would have been more demeaning if Allen hadn't given her knickers. But there's more to his work than using women as furniture. This is a complete retrospective of the many aspects of his career. It runs until 25 January, admission £10 adults, £9 silver surfers (CLICK). The BBC loves it (CLICK).

Ivan Shishkin

Earlier today I mentioned that Russian Ivan Shishkin (1831–1898) was one of my favourite landscape artists. Shown is his painting: The Rocky Landscape (1889). This award-winning artist studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, then at the Imperial Academy of Arts. He haa a minor planet named after him (CLICK). Olga's Gallery has the largest online collection of his paintings I've found: CLICK.

Philae First Photo

Here's the shot we've been waiting for: the first photo from Philae released by ESA with the ironic title Welcome To A Comet (2014). Bottom left is one of the feet of Philae standing on the comet's surface. The lander appears to be in the shadow of a cliff, which will limit the life of its battery. However, there should be enough power in its battery to perform all the scientific tests required. The big question scientists want answered is: Did a comet like this bring water to the Earth? (CLICK for more.)

Russian Sale

I must admit I'd never heard of MacDougall’s auction house until today. Founded in 2004, it has become one of the three world leaders in Russian art at auction and now holds a quarter of the global market. Russian mafiosi wondering where to invest their cash need look no further. This Reclining Nude (1902) by Mikhail Larionov comes up in MacDougall’s London auction on 26 November, estimated at £1,500,000 – £2,000,000 (CLICK). I noticed one of my favourite landscape artists in the sale: Ivan Shishkin's Pine Forest (Sukhostoi) from 1897. If you haven't seen Shishkin's beautiful landscapes, look him up in Google images.

Rosetta Probe

After yesterday's historic landing of comet probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, scientists have confirmed that Philae is now stable and sending images back to Earth (CLICK). European Space Agency engineers say it may have bounced hundreds of metres off the surface after its harpoons that should have anchored it to the comet failed to fire. The planning for the Rosetta Probe began 25 years ago, then 10 years since lift-off to reach its target. Some of the people involved have spent all their working lives on this project. No wonder they got so excited yesterday. Journalists reporting the history of space research seem to have forgotten the Russian sputnik that startled the world in 1957 and launched the Space Race (CLICK).

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Humans are an incredibly curious species, at least those who aren't bamboozled by the trite homilies of religion. While today's big news is that scientists have landed a probe on a faraway comet after a 10-year journey. other scientists are trying to map and model those ballets of the skies created by starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) when they come in to land at dusk. These murmurations are a fantastic spectacle. This photo is the best nature picture I've seen in the past week. It shows a Murmurations of starlings as dusk falls near Gretna Green in Scotland, taken by Owen Humphreys. (CLICK to find a larger image.) If you fancy being a murmuration spotter, CLICK for details, as well as photos and a beautiful video of a murmuration being formed.

Taylor Wessing

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize of £12,000 has been won by David Titlow with this spontaneous snap of his toddler son Konrad meeting a dog for the first time (CLICK). A nice snap for the family album, but I don't see this as a portrait photo, let alone as a prize-winning portrait photo worth £12,000. In fact I think the best of the shortlisted photos is third-placed Birgit Puve's picture of nine-year-old Estonian twins with their chicken. The National Portrait Gallery exhibition opens tomorrow (CLICK).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Last Poppy

Here is the lad who planted the last of 888,246 ceramic poppies to complete the powerful art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. At 13, Harry Hayes is the youngest member of the Combined Cadet Force at Reading Blue Coat School in Berkshire. He is also older than some of the boys who volunteered to fight in the Great War and lied about their ages. Artist Paul Cummins, the creator of these ceramic poppies to commemorate the British and Commonwealth dead, handed the last poppy to Harry to plant (CLICK).

David at V&A

Here's another warrior from a past conflict: the biblical David sculpted between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo. In the 1850s Florentine cast-maker Clemente Papi created this plaster cast, which Leopold II, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, gave to Queen Victoria. She gave it to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Some idiots at the V&A had a fig leaf carved to cover David's genitals to spare the Queen's blushes when she visited, but she had ruder sculptures in her private residence Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. The photo shows V&A's sculpture conservator Johanna Puisto giving the plaster cast of David a brush up prior to the Italian Cast Court reopening after major refurbishment. It's been renamed the Weston Cast Court in honour of long-time supporters The Garfield Weston Foundation. Casts of over 60 masterpieces will be back on show from 29 November (CLICK).

Armistice Day

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, military cadet Harry Hayes plants the last ceramic poppy at Paul Cummins' and Tom Piper's art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marking the end of World War I in 1918, nearly a century ago (CLICK).

Tower Bridge Glass

Oo-er. Don't look down! But that's the whole point of the new glass floor installed in the high-level walkway of Tower Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world. It opened yesterday to press photographers and those with a head for heights (CLICK). Rather them than me.


This is the second E.H. Shepard drawing of Poohsticks "For A Long Time They Looked At The River Beneath Them" (1928) to come to auction within a year, showing Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin. This signed ink illustration has been in a private collection for more than 40 years. Last year's Poohsticks was estimated at £30,000 to £50,000. This one is much better, estimated at £100,000. It's in Sotheby's London sale of English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations on 9 December (CLICK).

Monday, 10 November 2014

Illuminating Atoms

Did you know that 2014 is the International Year of Crystallography? Neither did I until I saw this BBC webpage: CLICK. Photographer Max Alexander has been capturing the work of crystallographers for an exhibition Illuminating Atoms at the Royal Albert Hall. Shown is his photo of a Diamond Crystal subjected to high pressure (2014). CLICK to find out the times when the public can view his exhibition.

Hogarth's Birthday

Today is the birthday of William Hogarth, one of England's most inventive artists, the father of western sequential art which eventually led to the ubiquitous comic strip. Also, this year marks the 250th anniversary of his death. BP Spotlights at Tate Britain is currently showing a collection of his paintings, chalk drawings and prints (CLICK). Hogarth House in Chiswick, west London, reopened in 2011 after an extensive restoration (CLICK to read more and find a link to an excellent video). Shown is his painting Hogarth's Servants (mid 1750s). The National Gallery has a number of his paintings, including the complete 6-part series Marriage A-la-Mode. Hogarth's bust is in Leicester Square, where his town house once stood and where movies - the epitome of sequential art - are premiered (CLICK).

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday

As today is Remembrance Sunday (CLICK for pictures) I thought I'd take another look at Paul Cummins' and Tom Piper's Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, which must be the most successful art installations ever (CLICK). Up to four million people - 6% of the UK's population - are expected to have visited the artwork by the time it closes. Images of this emotive work have gone around the world. Even a visiting North Korean artist painted it (CLICK). Yesterday PM David Cameron and wife Samantha visited the moat to plant poppies. He described it as an "incredibly moving" reminder of how many lost their lives." Yet The Guardian's art expert Jonathan Jones brayed "The Tower of London poppies are fake, trite and inward-looking – a Ukip-style memorial" (CLICK). Why does The Guardian employ such a donkey to bray about art?