visiting the National Gallery


On our last two days in London, we really packed in the sights and gallery visits. I wrote about the morning of our second-to-last-day’s visit to the Annette Messager exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, after a ride on the London Eye. After lunch, we walked over to The National Gallery which sits so majestically on the top of the grand Trafalgar Square, shown above with St. Martin in the Fields on the right. This is another free institution though the traveling Picasso exhibition in the Sainsbury wing of course was not.

Our granddaughters and their mother joined a children’s tour they had been signed up for while husband and I went about on our own. It was exciting to recognize many many famous art works from the 13th to the early 20th centuries. I can’t remember all my favourites now though I did at first start to write them down but that took too long! We did not take photos (I think it was not allowed) but the National Gallery’s website has the entire collection online so its great to be able to go back and review the collection. Just a few of our favourites:

Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait – I adore the North European artists
Leonardo da Vinci’s Sketch for The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne – I love his drawings
Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors – some fascinating details in this
Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire – I think one of the first Turners I’ve seen in real life.


The Impressionist Collection is gorgeous as well. I was thrilled in particular to see the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele (above). Many years ago when I was researching Finnish art I fell in love with Gallen-Kallela and especially his work inspired by the Kalevala. He became a significant figure in my BFA Honours thesis.

The interiors are gorgeous with rich brilliant colours on the walls in most of the rooms but I was quite shocked to see mud-coloured ones for the impressionists! As is usual with most huge museums, it was a bit confusing navigating the rooms so as not to miss anything. And as usual, looking at a lot of art exhilarates then exhausts me so, sadly, we did not get to the Picasso exhibit.

Oh, and the children, even the three-year-old, loved their tour, a compliment to their excellent guide! We were then rewarded with delicious treats in the cafeteria to restore some energy for the trip home on the tube and bus. The bus trip that late afternoon rush hour was extra slow and long because it was diverted the long way around due to a water main break near home, sigh.
(Next: visiting the Tate Modern)

August 17, 2009 in Art Exhibitions, Other artists, Travel by Marja-Leena