the art

The second thing was the Dulwich Picture Gallery. A simple name for what seems to be one of London's best kept secrets. Or maybe I'm just out of the loop. This all exists in South London, a place I've been unkind to in previous posts. With good reason; some of it's rubbish. I've decided Dulwich is not. It's ace. Because up the road from the incredible restaurant (set 2 course lunch, £14.50, 3 course £16.50 - bargain) is this wonderful gallery. I went to see the Winslow Homer exhibit.

I'm going to digress for a moment. When I was a kid, just getting into double digits, possibly hitting pre-teens, I loved sharks. I had volume upon volume of shark books and learned as much as possible. One of the better ones (I can't remember the name) had a chapter on cultural views of sharks, from the people who worshipped them as gods to the often imbalanced fictional representations in Western literature and later film (Jaws, duh). There was a hugely powerful painting of a lone black sailor, flattened against the deck of his demasted ship, holding for dear life. The ship was surrounded by sharks and on the horizon was a waterspout - a seafaring tornado. Almost imperceptible further on the horizon is a big, three-mast ship. It's an incredible image, burned into my brain by the curiosity of youth and its own merits. There is tremendous courage as well as despair and it leaves the viewer desperate to know what happens. The accompanying paragraph explained that people were so concerned about the fate of the sailor when the painting was first exhibited (and ever since) that the artist had to explain that the sharks never get him, the waterspout misses him and the ship rescues him. The name of the painting is The Gulf Stream and Winslow Homer painted it.

The exhibition was astonishing - incredibly powerful and beautifully structured works, mostly of the sea. The best works gave the impression of movement; bold and striking snapshots of life with amazing light and commanding brush strokes.

The rest of the gallery was fantastic as well, small and perfectly formed. There were gems, including a couple of fantastic Canallettos (as well as Reynolds, Rembrandt, Van Dyck. Great art in beautiful but comfortable surroundings.

Of course afterwards the light was stunning and my internal debate as to whether I should take a camera came to what turned out to be the wrong, as I did not. So armed with my phone I took the following shots of the grounds and the art college building next to the gallery.

This is the art school attached to the gallery. I didn't get a decent shot of the gallery itself. No good light.
That's part of the gallery wall on the right.

The Gulf Stream