The Night Watch by Rembrandt

We’ve been to the Netherlands quite a lot as I have a brother who has lived there for decades, but we had never been to Amsterdam and Jack and I were both fed up having to tell people we hadn’t been there as it seems that that is the only place people visit in NL. So we rectified that a few weeks ago and took the train to Amsterdam from Friesland, a two and a half hour journey. We were heading for The Rijksmuseum, around a 30 minute walk from the railway station, everybody else seemed to be a tourist too!

We wanted to see everything at the museum and we DID see everything, but we especially wanted to see Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and look what we saw when we got there!

Rembrandt's Night Watch, Rijksmuseum

At the moment most of the very large painting is covered with machinery and gadgets which are apparently measuring the vibrations of the canvas. It’s thought that tiny vibrations in the atmosphere are damaging it.

It’s just typical – when we went to see Chatsworth part of it was covered with scaffolding, see the photo below.

Chatsworth House

The famous bridge at Ironbridge was likewise obscured the first time we went there.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

And of course when we sailed to the Bay of Biscay it was an absolute flat calm when it’s well known for being rough, something that I was looking forward to. I’m strange that way, I don’t like fairground attractions, just looking at them makes me feel sick but I’m never sea-sick.

Bookshelf Travelling – 6th December

Bookshelf Travelling is a meme which was originally hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but at the moment I’m gathering together any other Bookshelf Travelling posts.

This week I’m featuring the bottom shelf of a Billy bookcase in my sunroom. This is a room at the back of our house looking on to the garden and it’s the main reason we bought this place. Anyway, it’s a shelf of art books this week. In normal times we visit a lot of art galleries, exhibitions and museums and of course that hasn’t been possible this year. As Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland we have been able to access some interesting talks by experts so that has been an unexpected plus anyway.

Art Books

This shelf houses books on Renoir, Tissot, Matisse – mainly well known artists, so I’m just going to feature a few lesser known artists.

James McIntosh Patrick is very well known in Scotland, he was born in nearby Dundee in 1907 and died in 1998 and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. You can see images of some of his work here. Most of his paintings are of local rural scenes in the east of Scotland, I really like his work.

I love woodcuts and Four Hedges A Gardener’s Chronicle by Claire Leighton has 88 illustrations in it, as this is a gardening book it’s doubly of interest to me. You can see images of some of her work here. Clare Leighton was the sister of the poet Roland Leighton, Vera Brittain’s fiance who was killed in World War 1.

Introducing The Glasgow Boys
was published by Glasgow museums and written by museum curators Jean Walsh and Hugh Stevenson. You can see some of the artists’ work here.

I love children’s illustrated books, not all of them of course but some are beautiful and frankly probably aren’t published for children to get their hands on, unless they’re being supervised! A Treasury of The Great Children’s Book Illustrators features works by Edward Lear, John Tenniel, Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, Beatrix Potter, Ernest H.Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and W.W. Denslow.

A Treasury of the Great Children's Book Illustrators cover

Other Bookshelf Travellers this week are:

A Son of the Rock
Bitter Tea and Mystery

Marian Clayden Exhibition at Drum Castle

It can be quite surprising what you see when you visit castles in Scotland. When we went to Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire – I have to say a couple of years ago now, I didn’t expect to see an exhibition of textiles and clothes by Marian Clayden who I hadn’t heard of before but is very well known in her field of textiles and weaving. You can see my earlier posts on Drum Castle here.

Marian Clayden designs

The photos really don’t do her work justice as you can’t see the textures so well. The fabric is mainly silk and velvet, absolutely sumptuous looking.

Marian Clayden textile

Marian Clayden dress designs

Marian Clayden, designs

Marian Clayden was born in Preston, Lancashire which had a thriving textile industry back in the day, so her family was involved in various crafts, but I think we can safely say that Marian picked up that baton and ran with it. You can read about her life here.

Marian Clayden design

She trained as a teacher but after having a couple of kids and being stuck at home she decided to try dyeing some textiles in her kitchen, using skills she had learned in her teacher training. Moving to San Francisco in 1967 must have influenced her hugely – with all of those flower power people and bright colours around the place.

Marian Clayden  designs

Her career took off and there were exhibitions of her work all over the world. Sadly she died in 2015 but her work lives on in major collections all over the world in places such as the V&A in London and the Metropolitan in New York. We were just incredibly lucky to stumble across this exhibition in a Scottish Castle.

Marian Clayden

Art from the Second World War

 Art from the Second World War cover

Art from the Second World War is one of the books that I got for Christmas. It was published by the Imperial War Museum and it’s their collection of artworks.

I’m interested in the war although mainly from the social home front aspect, and many of the artworks depicted in this book are of war workers and even of people queuing outside a fishmongers and poulterers.

It’s a lovely book although some of the images are quite disturbing – such as the one of bodies in Belsen. I prefer to concentrate on the more domestic images.

It contains works by Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Mervyn Peake ( I didn’t even know he painted), Laura Knight, Eric Ravilious and many more.

The image below was painted by Evelyn Dunbar.

Evelyn Dunbar

And the one below by Laura Knight (Dame) is of a balloon team.

A Balloon team Laura Knight

Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel

Pieter Bruegel d. Ä. 106b

I love this painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I was amazed to discover that it was painted so long ago, 1565 – as it seems quite modern to me, it must be something to do with the clean, crisp quality of it. The original is in Vienna. I first came across Hunters in the Snow about 30 years ago when a friend sent me it as a Christmas card and I managed to find a framed print of it not long afterwards. However it was one of the things which disappeared during our last removal to this house 24 years or so ago. Things always seem to go missing when we move and we moved around the country a lot before we got here.

I haven’t replaced it in all these years but I’ll really have to get around to it, or maybe I should leave it until after we downsize, just in case another removal man takes a fancy to it.

I love just about everything about it. Click on it to enlarge it and you’ll see the smaller details. I love the trees and the snow, mountains, dogs, skaters, curlers, the church in the distance, the birds, the person carrying wood for a fire across the bridge and especially the sign which is on the left hand side and is dangling lop-sided in the wind. I can just about hear it squeaking and creaking and I can almost smell the snow and the fire. I have a very eclectic taste in Art. What about you? Has anything ‘disappeared’ from a removal of yours?’