Monday 27 July 2020

At the National

Titian, The Death of Actaeon

Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto

Perseus and Andromeda

Bacchus and Ariadne, left - referenced in Brookner's
The Next Big Thing

Nicolaes Maes, Girl at a Window, 1653-5,
on loan from the Rijksmuseum

It was a great pleasure at last to visit the Titian exhibition at the National Gallery, curtailed by lockdown but now resurrected. We find Titian's late masterworks painted for Philip II reunited for the first time. They're starry attractions and a great novelty, but finer still is the feeling of being in a gallery again. The National Gallery is much changed. It's practically deserted. You must book, cannot just wander in. It has lost that old communal feel. At times its bigger halls could feel like railway station concourses. Now one might be in Europe, not England.

A great discovery downstairs, barely advertised: a Maes show, Dutch Golden Age painter. And beautifully lit, by which I mean almost in darkness.

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