We went to Goya: The Portraits. It was a strange sensation seeing portraits so apparently lacking in artifice, so direct and humane, showing sitters in ways which are ostensibly unflattering, which they not only tolerated but admired, beginning with his great group portrait of The Family of the Infante Don Luis de Borbón, where Don Lois is old and grumpy while his wife is having her hair done. Goya painted for a relatively small group of inter-related liberal aristocrats. He painted their face first, then dashed in their clothes at speed back in the studio. Great group portraits. We liked the Self Portrait with the hat which he put candles in to finish off the highlights. And the last Self Portrait, which shows him with his doctor, Eugenio Arrieta, who was responsible for his survival.
I wandered into the National Gallery’s exhibition out of the maelstrom of tourists outside. I found it more satisfying than expected to be made to concentrate on the detail of the frames and the quality of their carving, dating back to the mid to late sixteenth century, although nothing to do with Sansovino:-
I was keen to see the National Gallery’s Soundscapes, which has been curated by Minna Moore Ede, who organised the exhibition Metamorphosis in which three contemporary artists responded to Titian. This time she has got six contemporary composers and sound artists to respond the paintings in the National Gallery’s collection. The point is to get visitors to slow down, to listen as well as to look, and respond to art through all their senses. First is Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele interpreted by Chris Watson, a sound engineer who recorded bird song not in Norway where there is too much sound pollution, but instead in Northumbria:-