Wednesday, 2 March 2011
If there's one thing everyone knows about me, it's that I'm mad for the early Northern renaissance. I was well interested in the National Gallery's Gossaert exhibition.
If there's one thing everyone knows about Gossaert, it's that he's the first major Northern Renaissance painter to be directly influenced by going to Italy. He has gone through peaks and troughs, and he's sometimes been thought of as absolutely one of the top guys, and this exhibition is to show why. It's really, really good.
I thought, and let's be clear that I am pretty ignorant:
1. He still seems very Northern. I'd kind of expected fleshy voluptuousness, but it was much more dispassionate, clean and bright, all of which I like. Clinical without being cold.
2. He is unbelievably good at the patterns on the edge of clothes. If you don't think this is a thing that can amaze you, be prepared to be amazed.
3. I think he is one of the very goods, not one of the greats, which doesn't mean this isn't a terrific exhibition.
4. Durer is one of the greats. There is a woodcut of his, Samson and a lion, which is one of the best things I have ever seen. It is worth the price of admission. The decision and crispness (which might be as a result of a restored woodcut, I am not entirely sure) are just astonishing. I hummed and hawed about whether to include a picture of it here. I am doing so, but it gives absolutely no idea of the real thing.
Quite soon, I think, I will place a list on my website of artworks I wish to commission. I have been meaning to do this for ages.