10.8.17

Guildhall and Pokemon Go

It was Romans day for the kids
I've been living in or near London for nigh on 50 years. I've visited the National Gallery, the Tates, you name it. But thanks to a heads-up on Facebook by Mary-Lou, on Tuesday I was about to visit an Art Gallery I'd never even heard of, the Guildhall Art Gallery, in the City of London.

The 1999 exterior
What attracted me was a photo of Rossetti's La Ghirlandata, a gorgeous picture of Alexa Wilding, with May Morris (Jane's 10-year old daughter) posing as the angels above. It's full of symbolism, described in detail to a small group of us taking the free guided tour. The only thing Rossetti got wrong were the flowers at the bottom of the picture. I didn't expect a lot more to be honest, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Photography was allowed too.

Rossetti and others
Almost every Pre-Raphaelite and follower is represented: Holman Hunt's Eve of St Agnes, a smaller version to that in the Walker; Millais' The woodsman's daughter and the pair of Sermons, My First and My Second. Then there are other treasures, such as Lord Leighton's The music lesson [Fun fact: Leighton became a Lord on his deathbed, the shortest peerage in history, just one day], and Paul Delaroche's The execution of Lady Jane Grey, our forgotten queen, so poignant as she was tried for treason in the Guildhall next door, and William Shakespeare Burton's The wounded Cavalier, also full of symbolism.

Burton and Holman Hunt
Take the free guided tour (Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays) and you'll be taken to all the nooks and crannies (mind you, I'm convinced I missed a room under the main gallery, where the bottom half of John Singleton Copley's The defeat of the floating batteries at Gibraltar, 1782 resides. What a whopper, the largest painting in Britain. There are several big 'uns on display. I was taken by the more formal The ninth of November, 1888 by William Logsdail depicting the Lord Mayor's procession. Beautifully painted, it looks almost 3D. The collection of London paintings are down below, and even deeper is a Roman amphitheatre!

Another whopper: Michele Tedesco A Pythagorean school attacked by Sybarites
The building itself, though founded in 1886, was reopened in 1999, after being mostly destroyed in the Blitz. I got the bus from London Bridge and spent the rest of the day chasing Unown and Kangaskhan in the Pokemon Go city event. They were not as plentiful as I'd been led to believe, but tracked down a Kanga at Victoria station and a couple more at Green Park. My one and only Unown was found in Lincoln's Inn Fields. And I was so pleased that I treated myself to a pint of something welsh-sounding at a nearby Wetherspoons, Penderel's Oak, named after another Cavalier.

BTW the last exhibition I went up to London for was Alma-Tadema: At home in Antiquity at Leighton House, back on 12 July, the day of the David Devant and his Spirit Wife gig at the Monarch in Camden Town. No photography allowed, but a fine exhibition. [Fun fact: Alama-Tadema was born plain Mr Tadema, he added the Alma so he would come first in catalogues.] There's an Alma-Tadema in the Guildhall catalogue but not on display, or maybe on loan to Leighton House*, or maybe in that room I might have missed!

* A Pyrrhic Dance was indeed in the Leighton House exhibition.
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