Sunday 12 February 2023

 The Reason for Art Galleries

I was well aware of the quality of Van Gogh's painting through seeing many reproductions of his work. Colour printing in those days was not a patch on today's excellent standards. Even with those drawbacks I was able to see the devotion and the vision he was able to bring to everything he painted.
In the summer of 1979 my wife and I visited the The Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo in Holland. At first I was surprised to find that each of the works was on a smaller scale than I had assumed before. That is difficult to take on board even though the dimensions are usually given.  I was completely overcome with emotion when looking close to each painting I was able to fully appreciate the wonderful skill behind the bold impasto and the feeling which had made it possible. This is why we have picture galleries. 

Seeing works in the original is very different from seeing them in reproduction.
I remember having the same sense of shock I experienced in the National gallery when I saw the original painting of "Health of the Bride" by Stanhope Forbes. Its size first took my breath away 8ft. x 6 1/2 ft. On closer inspection showed it the command of shape and form and composition which is common in the best of Victorian art.

Nothing can beat seeing the original.
I remember when at a Toulouse Lautrec exhibition I was explaining a painting to my wife. I had attracted one or two other visitors who were listening to me. A lady wearing the guided tour commentary headphones complained loudly. I was holding up the queue of people who were following the audio guide by spending too long in front of one painting. She told me forcibly that I should move on. I didn't reply, nor did I move on. She seemed unaware that the audio headphones had been given out freely to move everyone efficiently through the show to make room for more paying customers.

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