I can’t quite believe I’m standing here still speaking to you all at the end of a year of Art 2010! I set out as a newbie in this city of Washington DC, clinging barnacle-like to the bows of the NGA, in hopes that by taking small steps in these soaring halls I’d find my feet in a new place and in a new life. Read the rest of this entry »
And now for the second half of my (much contested) favorite fortnight… Jan 3 sticks out for me, when I went right in with one of the NGA’s most prized paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci. And on January 21 we mourned the loss of a lion at the National Zoo with this life-size beast-ridden bombastic show-stopper from Peter paul Rubens.
Well here we are, with just a couple of days to go folks! On Friday the curtain falls on Art 2010, but before the lights go up and everyone is ushered out of the auditorium, let’s nestle into a nostalgic glimpse back over the last 12 months. I’ve come up with my favorite fortnight’s worth of works, which I’ll roll out over the next 2 days… hope you enjoy this mini-trip down memory lane…
There are rules around present-opening, and that’s only right. No one likes the spoil-sport who tip-toes down the day before a major celebration to ravenously rent open their gifts with gluttony and glee. Mostly on Art 2010 I’ve exercised a great deal of restraint in waiting patiently until the decreed and agreed day when I could unveil a painted or sculpted gem to you: saints stuck fast to their official feasts days, festivals were fused to the correct calendar mark. It wasn’t always easy, I’ll grant you (patience is not one of my most easy virtues) but there’s no point pinpointing a year with higgledy-piggledy highlights.
So it’s roughly around this time that the shepherds (who had been watching their flocks by night, all seated on the ground) start star-gazing, and making their way to Bethlehem to honor the brand new baby Jesus. For as long as I can remember, I have felt profound fondness for these adoring shepherds – the humble rustic characters who were the first to recognize Christ’s divinity – who travelled through the night to bring gifts of milk and fleece and little lambs.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Two Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
So sings the English carol that enumerates a series of increasingly grand gifts given on each of the twelve days of Christmas by a lover to another. It’s an impressive wish-list to say the least, but quite aside from how one could accommodate such showy showering of affection (have you any idea how many eggs 6 Geese-a-Laying lay or how loud the din is when you get 11 Pipers Piping?), I’ve always swooned ever-so-slightly at the thought of all those extravagant offerings.
It’s Christmas, and have I got a glorious gift for you all (frankly, anyone who’s logging in to learn about art on a day so deeply ensconced in the festive period definitely deserves a treat). Inevitably today’s painting is of the Christian persuasion, but I think it’ll cater to all creeds, on the simple basis of its sublime appearance. The Nativity (c. 1450) comes proffered by Petrus Christus (active 1444 – 1475), a Netherlandish artist we’ve befriended before on Art 2010. This though is better than the portraits we looked at then: indeed, this is one of the artist’s most important devotional paintings.