Henry VII

The real reason why I wanted to call in on the NPG was to see Henry VII before he goes out on loan or into cold storage: one of the most fascinating portraits in the collection (NPG 416), documented by its inscription as having been painted by order of Herman Rinck, an agent for Maximilian I in the abortive negotiations round Henry’s possible marriage to Margaret of Austria. I’ve always been fascinated by how much it seems to tell one about Henry’s character – careful, scrupulous, reticent, if one is still allowed to read portraits in relation to character:-

Done by an unknown artist, but so beautifully, one wants to know about the artist as well as the sitter.

His eyes:-

His mouth:-

His left hand:-


Leonard McComb

Given the imminent closure of the NPG (actually, not until 29 June), I thought I should call in as I was in the area. I was so pleased to see that Leonard McComb’s estate has bequeathed his Self-portrait which in on display on what used to be the Royal landing, together with his very fine portrait of Doris Lessing. His Self-portrait well conveys his personality – earnest and quietly determined, a bit of a loner and a beautiful draftsman. It was done in 2002 when he had stood down as Keeper at the Royal Academy and was living in Brixton; but I don’t remember the moustache:-



It was the publication day today of DixonJones 2, the second volume of the Complete Works of Dixon.Jones, taking the practice from their work on the National Gallery, including the Getty Entrance and Annenberg Court, through their work on the pedestrianisation of Exhibition Road, Jeremy’s beautiful concert hall at King’s Place, Ed’s Villa Jones at Bargemon, to their work on the masterplan for the Chelsea Barracks site and works I know less well like Marlborough Primary School in Chelsea and 35, Marylebone High Street: always well judged, urbane, sympathetic to the surrounding environment, the product of good thinking and design, all of which is beautifully recorded in the book through text, plans, drawings and photographs.



I have been asked why I haven’t commented on the closure of Blain|Southern last week. The truth is that I feel nothing but sympathy and sorrow for Harry Blain who has had a long history as a very successful dealer and had recently done everything he could to reduce its costs by radical down-sizing. I also, of course, feel at least as much sorrow for the many artists the gallery represented, many of whom I liked and admired, and for the lovely and dedicated staff, who I liked working with. What does it tell one about the current state of the art market ? Only that business can be cruel.