Cecil Beaton (1)

Nice to see the Cecil Beaton exhibition !

Steven Runciman, who I only knew (slightly) as a Grand Old Man was photographed upside down at Wilsford in 1927 when he was already a Fellow of Trinity:-

He had been photographed earlier holding a tulip in 1922:-

And Dadie Rylands as the Duchess of Malfi:-


Roy Strong

It was the last of the Portrait Dinners, perhaps the last big gathering for a while, before the gallery closes at the end of June for its refurb. The former Directors were invited – those who were living, at least – including Roy Strong who started work at the NPG in 1959, more than sixty years ago, and was a protegé of Cecil Beaton, whose exhibition is downstairs. After being photographed in front of the Somerset House Conference, as Roy was as a Young Turk in 1967, we trooped downstairs for champagne:-


St. Mary Magdalene, Paddington

St Mary Magdalene is a fine church – high gothic, tall and brick, designed by G.E. Street as an outpost of All Saints, Margaret Street, originally surrounded by working class housing, now by tower blocks:-

Inside is high church, with crucifixes shrouded for lent and a reredos by Martin Travers:-

Best of all is the Chapel of St. Sepulchre downstairs, locked up while waiting for restoration, designed by Ninian Comper in memory of Father West:-



It is the last day of the Architecture Foundation’s exhibition of new religious architecture, including the Dow Jones adaptation of St. Mary Magdalene, in whose crypt the exhibition has been held.

There’s a beautiful model of the building Roz Barr has planned for the Augustinians in Hammersmith:-

John Pawson is doing a conversion of St. John-at-Hackney.

There’s a model of a floating church for the canal at Stratford:-

And a very ambitious project by James Gorst for the White Eagle in Hampshire:-


Coronavirus (1)

In so far as my blog is a record of my routine preoccupations, which it half is, it would be odd not to make reference to the fact that the whole of the last week has been occupied by anxieties about the consequences of Coronavirus: from early in the week when it seemed odd and a bit discourteous not to shake hands and embrace to the end of the week when the best one could expect was a greeting elbow to elbow, when travelling on the underground meant standing stock still terrified of the first person who might sneeze, and even the Wolseley was half empty for breakfast. It is presumably sensible what we are all doing: making efforts to avoid crowded places; paying attention to the passage of germs; earnest hand washing to rid one of the taint of possible infection. But it is odd how a week can change everything.


Park Village East

I found myself walking the full length of Park Village East, Nash’s early garden Suburb, down towards Euston and a big area of social housing, which, I assume, was in an area which was heavily bombed: an unexpected set of architectural contrasts:-


English Baroque

A session in the archive of the Tate gave me an opportunity to see the exhibition on British Baroque, which I used to regard as my period.

I don’t remember seeing the John Bushnell terracotta bust of Charles II from the Fitzwilliam which shows his intelligence and sensuality:-

The bust by Honoré Pelle is comparatively stylised:-

There’s a sensational Grinling Gibbons font cover from All Hallows by the Tower, commissioned by a parishioner in 1682:-

Jan Siberechts contemporary view of Chatsworth shows its colossal ostentation as it appeared to Siberechts who was there in 1699:-

It’s good to see the Kneller portrait of Prior from Trinity, which shows what a wonderful artist he could be on a good day:-

There’s a picture of the Junto, painted in 1710, only acquired in 2018. It surely should have gone to the NPG. Hard to see as a major contribution to British art:-

The exhibition is good on the martial character of the period and the dominance of the monarchy, but it’s hard to convey its wealth and variety through so many royal portraits, no tomb sculpture, and mostly two dimensions.



I walked through the leafier parts of Kensington west from the Natural History Museum:-

Through squares I scarcely know, Queen’s Gate Gardens, Cornwall Gardens, a market garden until the 1860s, with its grand French Renaissance apartment blocks at the end:-

Lexham Gardens:-

Stratford Studios:-

Abingdon Road (I think):-

To Edwardes Square, named after the family of Lord Kensington who sold the land to a developer Louis Leon Changeur in 1811:-

It was the first day when I experienced people not willing to shake hands, for fear of the plague.


Concealed Histories

I was tipped off by Nicholas Thomas who I met in the tube about the display Concealed Histories: Uncovering the Story of Nazi Looting which reveals the problematic provenance of objects in the Gilbert Collection.

This beaker is thought to have belonged to Alfred Pringsheim, a Professor of Mathematics at Munich University:-

A clock, which belonged to Nathan Fränkel, a clockmaker in Frankfurt:-

The third item are gates from a monastery in Kiev owned by the dealers, J&S Goldschmidt. Interestingly, it does not speculate how they had acquired such an amazing piece of eighteenth-century Russian goldwork:-

The exhibition brings to public attention the complex issues surrounding provenance. My only regret is that it does not reveal more. For example, the Snuffbox which was seized from Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, was given to the Frankfurt Museum. So, how and when was it sold to the Gilberts ?