Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Art Museum Outings: The National Gallery, London

My study-abroad students take an art history class while they are here in London, and every week they go on museum outings with their instructor, who has been kind enough to let N. and me accompany them.  N. has been on two of these outings so far -- both to the National Gallery -- and really loved them.  The students and instructor stand around a painting while she tells them some things about it and asks for their observations.  As with the tour of Johnson's London house, N. is eager to answer questions and make remarks, and is learning to be patient and give others a chance to participate as well.

At the National Gallery, the instructor talked us through the following paintings on our first museum visit as a group: Titian's "Bacchus and Ariadne;" Jan Gossaert's "Adoration of the Kings;" Joseph Wright of Derby's "Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump;" George Stubbs's "Whistlejacket;" and J.M.W. Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire."

The next week, we all looked at Francois Hubert Drouais' "Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame;" Elizabeth's  le Brun's "Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat;" J. M. W. Turner's "Rail, Steam, and Speed," "Calais Pier," and "Margate, from the Sea;" John Constable's "The Hay Wain;" Hogarth's "The Graham Children" and "Marriage a la Mode" series; Joseph Wright's "Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Coltman;" Thomas Gainsborough's "Mrs. and Mrs. Andrews" and his portraits of his daughters; and finally Monet's "Bathers at La Grenoilliere."

This sounds like a lot of paintings (and the second week, it was a bit much to absorb), but compared with our whirlwind, full-day museum experiences in Paris, it was great to look at pictures in more depth, with the guidance both of an expert instructor and the students' observations.  We looked at many of the paintings above in pairs that helped us see what was distinctive about each as well as giving us a sense of context.  N. was really excited after both outings, wanting to draw (as always) and to try some things out with watercolors.  He also said it was fun having a different teacher (other than Tim and me!).

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