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Art musings

Spain and the Hispanic World was the sort of exhibition you might see at the British Museum – rather than the Royal Academy – as it imported the collection of Archer Huntington and was a history of Spain through its art and artefacts from the Middle Ages to the turn of the twentieth century.

Much as I admire Kenneth Clarke as Director of the National Gallery, not least for preserving the artworks in mines in Wales during World War Two and the morale inspiring concerts of Myra Hess, I do critisice him and the Gallery for its emphasis on Italian and French art.

Except for The Marriage of the Arnolfini the Northern Renaissance is largely ignored.

So the Royal Academy exhibition was a welcome showcase of Spanish Art.

This said, El Greco and Velazquez were apparently part of the Huntington Collection but I did not see any of their best works in the exhibition.

There were 4 sumptuous Goya portraits, including The Duchess of Alba, but I prefer his darker, more sinister works.

After a dreadful train journey back to my city, where we were turfed out at Haywards Heath because of signal failure, it was a night in front of the television for me.

I watched Waldemar Januszczak’s programme on The Impressionists.

He is an erudite critic who for some reason likes to play the fool.

Thus, in referring to Renoir’s love of depicting dance hall bars known as Guingettes, we had to see Waldemar dancing badly.

In praising Claude Monet as a supreme painter of water, Waldemar (in a boater) was rowed up the Seine at Argenteuil, which scene Monet painted.

To illustrate the fact that Impressionists used brushes with hog’s hair, he had a pig on a leash.

This programme was followed by Lost Masterpieces.

This is a spin off of Fake or Fortune in which Bendor Grosvenor features as an expert, where he pairs up with Emma Sabiri, who describes herself as a social historian.

Grosvenor’s mission is to identify a work in a museum and attribute it to a well-known artist.

Sabiri supplies the social detail.

On Monday Grosvenor worked on two paintings in the Birmingham Art Museum which he tried to attribute to Thomas Gainsborough and Jan Brueghel.

The Gainsborough attribution failed but an expert claimed that another example could be Jan Brueghel. The programme, like Fake or Fortune, is is contrived but watchable.

I must comment on the passing of Maya Picasso, the child of the tryst between Picasso and Francoise Gilot.

Picasso left no will and it would be true to character that he would have enjoyed the division and litigation this caused, as Maya started proceedings to claim her inheritance.

She and her half-brother Claude officiated on the Picasso Attribution Committee, but did not get along, which made the whole process arduous.

Finally a trio of exhibitions on my wish list: The Vermeer at the Rijmuseum, Berthe Morisot at the Dulwich Gallery and Donatello at the V &A.

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About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts