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Miro’s Chocolateria: the C’an Joan de S’Aigo

If it was good enough for Joan Miro, then it is certainly good enough for me… For the C’an Joan de S’Aigo is a café with a venerable history and a list of clientele past and present so long that it can probably count all of Mallorca’s most famous residents among its number, including the great artist Miro himself. Nestled within the maze of nostalgic alleyways which make up the oldest core of Palma’s centre, the C’an Joan de S’Aigo was founded in 1700 and as such is Palma’s oldest eatery. Founded when the cafe’s namesake had the idea of bringing down ice from the Tramuntana mountains and serving it richly flavoured in the earliest form of ice cream, the C’an Joan de S’Aigo is today equally famous for its rich pickings of local pastries and steaming hot chocolate.

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Despite the age of this quaint faded café, the locals of Palma have never allowed it to go out of fashion: When we sampled the café after our dip in the sea last weekend, it came after several failed attempts to visit previously – for each time we have been along, the place has heaved with locals who head to the café at the traditional merienda hour to sample ice cream piled high from small glasses and creamy indulgent hot chocolate. But it was worth the wait. Sat amongst the traditional interiors packed with blue and white ceramics, colourful glass chandeliers, copper kettles, filigree vases and wooden thrones, we feasted greedily on a sampling of the cafe’s local pastries, all of which tasted all the better when coated with a velvety layer of that legendary hot chocolate.

For Dominik, a sweet bun made, surprisingly, of potatoes (coca de patata) was a light and fluffy counter to the liquid silk of chocolate steaming in a cup before him. For me, a richer, creamier ensaïmada – the local specialist pastry which you can find all over town and which tourists buy in their plenty in what resemble giant hat boxes. Made in Mallorca even before the C’an Joan de S’Aigo was founded, the ensaïmada is made from dough which has been repeatedly folded with pork fat – much like puff pastry – and then either served sprinkled with sugar, or filled with other such goodies. And my filling of cold custard oozed and melted as it dipped into the hot chocolate with as much unctuous delight as melted butter on a warm crumpet. 

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Thoroughly disgusted by our self-indulgence, but rather rewarded by our dip into local culture, we swiftly decided that a visit to C’an Joan de S’Aigo must become a weekly tradition. How else can one become integrated into Mallorquin society?

The C’an Joan de S’Aigo café can be found hidden away just off from the church of Santa Eulalia on the Carrer Can Sanc 10. It’s open daily 8am-9pm except Tuesdays.

Mallorca Moments: Terrace Sunset

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will know that I love very little more than a sunset (or indeed a sun rise – although red sky in the morning is always something of a shepherds warning so it is perhaps better to do without). And of course at this time of year you can experience some of the best. Now combine the sunset and the time of the year with my new relocation to Palma de Mallorca’s faultlessly beautiful old town and you have a truly magical combination. It is that magic which is very much captured in these photos, taken from the roof terrace of my new pied-à-terre. 

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Benefitting from a location in the heart of the old town, with a view directly onto the side of Palma’s most famous monument, La Seu cathedral, a slice of the Mediterranean Sea and a panoply of beautiful old rooftops, our roof terrace makes for an incredible place to watch the changing effects of light on sky, as these photos demonstrate. But for now I can do little better than to let you take a look. For when the beauty and colours of nature look this good, words will always be an insufficient substitute. Suffice to say I’m so looking forward to bringing you more views from the terrace throughout the next year and beyond. 

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown ©2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

Just a typical Mallorcan Sunday afternoon in November…

On the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, which I am now lucky enough to call home, everyone is talking about one thing: the weather. The streets may already be decked in lights for Christmas, the shops full of twinkling trees and nativities, and Christmas markets installed across the island, but as far as the weather is concerned, it could still be summer. With temperatures in the early 20s, you’d never know that in a month from now we will be getting our stockings ready for a visit from Papa Noel. But I’m certainly not complaining. It means that for a day like yesterday, when the sun shone in the sky amidst milky fair weather clouds, enjoyment of this last acquaintance with summer wasn’t be restricted to coffee in the sunshine. Instead my second Sunday on the island of Mallorca was spent revelling in the very best of summertime activities – a visit to the beach.

Brunch at Cappuccino Portals and the yachts which fill the marina

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It wasn’t exactly planned that way. Having met our dear friend for Brunch at the Cappuccino Grand Café in chic Puerto Portals just east of Palma, we had originally intended to head back home to finish that all encompassing of activities: unpacking. But with the weather so perfect and the pull of Mallorca’s stunning coastline so strong, we could not resist the magnetic force of its glowing auburn beaches. And once there, the sea was just too tempting to resist. So stripped down to underwear, the water beckoned, and an afternoon wallowing in the brilliantly warm waters of the Mediterranean ensued. Sorry, did someone say November?

November on the beach. Now that’s what I call a move for the better…

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved.

The Barbican Triptych

It was around 16 months ago when, following a work social function held within the Barbican Estate in the City of London, my colleague, who also lives there, commissioned me to depict the Barbican on canvas. 

It was something of a challenge. Chief amongst the challenges was the scale of the piece – a hefty triptych to feature on a large blank wall – exciting in prospect, but less so when I was already working full time with only evenings and the occasional weekend free to paint. Second was the problem of inspiration. The Barbican does not fall under what one would ordinarily term “beautiful”. Built in the style typical of the 60s and now given the rather unflattering title “brutalist architecture”, the Barbican estate is all grey concrete, sharp jagged edges and high rise. However, the site, built to fill in one of many huge expanses of the City devastated by the Blitz in WW2, is undoubtedly iconic, and as I started to muse upon a possible approach to capturing the architecture on canvas, I noticed how the architecture formed a harmony of shapes, from a variety of circles and semi circles, as well as straight horizontals and the teeth like edges of its famous three towers. And then it came upon me – what other London icon is comprised of simplistic lines and circles? Why the Underground. An idea was born. 

The Barbican Triptych (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

My Barbican Triptych is both a homage to the architectural shapes of the Barbican and the city in which it is located. Along the horizon of all three canvases, the famous skyline of the City can be seen, while across the piece, another London icon dominates: the famous map of the Underground. Taking the idea further, I chose to paint the work in predominant shades of purple, pink and yellow, these being the likes (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City and Circle) that pass through the tube station at the Barbican, while occasionally where round sunken flower beds would ordinarily be found in the Barbican’s waterways, these have been replaced with the famous black ringed circle stops of the tube map. 

The painting not only reflects the architecture of the Barbican but channels the plentiful water which can be found at the Estate, starting from the waterfall on the right and flowing up through fountains and past the main cultural centre of the Estate to the fish ponds on the far right. It also includes the plentiful flowers which today make the architecture less brutal, and the plants which flow from the various residential balconies there. 

The Barbican Triptych = Canvas 1 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych – Canvas 1 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych - Canvas 2 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych – Canvas 2 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych - Canvas 3 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

The Barbican Triptych – Canvas 3 (2013-14 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

It may have taken well over a year to complete but I am so proud of the final result. And somewhat appropriately, this painting was the last of many I have completed while living in London. How apt then that rather than the Mediterranean setting which tends to be the staple of my work, this painting should be made in homage to the city which, up until last weekend, was my home of 12 years. My final swan song to London. 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

 

Move to Mallorca: First days

If I could describe the sensations, thrills and excitement of moving to a new life in the heart of the old town of Palma de Mallorca with an analogy, it would be to compare it with the overwhelming exhilaration of entering a department store at Christmas, full of sparkling temptations, gleaming pleasures, grand architecture and flashing lights across every square centimeter: a treasure trove of excitement so intense that your body quivers with anticipation and shakes with the indecision of not knowing where to explore first. Such has been the irrepressible thrill of moving to Mallorca, to an apartment set within a maze of streets so intensively packed with the charms of Spain and the prettiness characteristic of any historic quarter that we can barely breathe for happiness.

Palma viewed from our apartment

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Not only are we like children around a Christmas tree when it comes to exploring our airy new modernista-style apartment, but look outside the window and the bleak busy grey road view of our previous London home is replaced with a burrow of streets lined with apartment blocks painted in every colour of an artist’s palette, enhanced with ironwork balconies, lamps and other decorative embellishment, and brought to life by the residents who lean from their balconies watching the world go by, hanging their washing out to flap away in the warm autumn breeze, or putting out their little caged birds and fluffy puppies to breathe the optimistic fresh air of the new day. With so much to look at out of our 8 balcony windows, and such a plethora of vantage points to watch the constant day to day buzz of this bustling little quarter of Palma, I am reminded of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where James Stewart’s character would sit day by day living vicariously through the many lives he could see unfolding amongst the apartments opposite his own.

All the charms of Palma

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But of course far from living vicariously off others, our greatest pleasure has been to leave our new apartment and explore the charmingly charismatic streets of this region and beyond. A mere 48 hours into our new life, we have sampled the local fluffy pastry, ensaimada, over a creamy coffee, riffled through a shop’s worth of traditionally made baskets and weaved furniture, strolled along the golden sandy beach and alongside the popular boat-filled marina of Portixol,  scraped clean a huge pan filled with a moist and richly caramalised seafood paella, gulped down a good glass or three of chilled white wine in the surprisingly hot Autumn sunshine, strolled around huge deserted churches lit by flickering candles as though awaiting our visit, and shopped more than we ought in order to add some local touches to the London interior schemes we are importing to Spain.

…and here’s a few more

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There has been so much to see and do that I could split these mere 48 hours into a panoply of Daily Norm posts. But to do so would be to deny you, the reader, the full impact of a city ripe with a resplendent array of visual treasures, and consequently in posting photos of the first two days, I am bringing you a sampling of many treats we have discovered as we began our new life in Palma de Mallorca last weekend. And what a life it is set to be…

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Leaving London: Bidding Farewell to my home of 8 years

Seeing my London home of 8 years empty reminds me of the first few days when I first purchased it. Brand new, with building works only just complete, the flat was a wonderfully polished open plan space. I couldn’t believe my luck when I first moved in, moving from an old cramped Victorian terrace in Camberwell to this über chic space fit for a bachelor. At first of course there was no furniture, and it is of those times that I am now reminded – sitting on the floor with only a television for company; watching the Eurovision Song Contest with my bottom shifting uncomfortably on the new wooden floors. 

The years in between have been perhaps the most formative of my life. It was in that flat that I graduated from my Masters and qualified as a barrister; when I was put through the hell of pupillage and ditched so unjustifiably at the end of it; when I experienced the elation of a new job in government and where I came home two years later knowing that I needed a new challenge; when I met the love of my life, experienced the birth of two nephews and the death of their father; it was where I had the accident that changed me forever, and where I used the compensation monies to forge a future for the better. 

My flat at its best

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It is on that future that I now embark, although sadly that future must be without my beloved home. Packing up this place, the guardian of so many happy experiences, has undoubtedly been the hardest part about this move, but as each box was packed, a little bit of home disappeared. Now standing empty, it’s just a flat again – no longer my home. That home is currently making its way to Palma de Mallorca in cardboard boxes, and I cannot wait to get there now and unpack it. 

Packing up and getting Segunda Guernica out of the building!

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But for now, I thought I would mark this passing with a few photos of my flat at its best, together with some views of the move. For this is truly the end of the era, but only the next phase of my life. And The Daily Norm is coming with me for the ride – so see you in Mallorca! 

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Intelligent Insight: Grayson Perry – Who Are You?

Following on from his superb show, Tomb of the Unknown Craftsmen at the British Museum in 2010 is the latest collection of brilliantly insightful works by artist and craftsman Grayson Perry. This time fitting seamlessly into the collection of the National Portrait gallery, peppered throughout the museum therefore encouraging visitors on a kind of magical mystery your through the space, Perry’s new exhibition, Who are You? once again shows that Grayson Perry is one of the most intelligent artists of our times. Made in conjunction with a series of channel 4 documentaries reflecting on a series of individuals each struggling with some particular facet of their individuality, these “portraits” are very appropriately located within the hallowed halls of the London’s temple of portraiture. Ranging from etching to tapestry, enamel portrait to glazed pottery, they show Perry at his adroit best. But beyond the skilled execution of these works is the messages they so sensitively and intelligently portray. 

Line of Departure (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Line of Departure (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Jesus Army Money Box (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Jesus Army Money Box (2014 © Grayson Perry)

The Earl of Essex (2014 © Grayson Perry)

The Earl of Essex (2014 © Grayson Perry)

The Huhne Vase (2014 © Grayson Perry)

The Huhne Vase (2014 © Grayson Perry)

In mounting the show, Perry tells how he chose sitters who were each on some kind of identity journey. People who had changed religion or gender, physical or mental facilities, lost status or belonging to a group who are actively trying to change the way others see them. Thus Perry presents a vase representing the fall from grace of politician Chris Huhne, who was imprisoned for perjury after asking his wife to take the blame for a speeding offence he had committed. The vase shows his image and that of his car registration plate repeated over and over like the tire tracks of his car. It was smashed and pieced back together again in gold demonstrating Huhne’s downfall but also the fact that his new fragility in a world dominated by generic status figures will make him a richer more complex individual. There too Perry gives us a miniature enamel portrait hidden away in glass cases with others far older. It portrays XFactor star Rylan Clark as the Earl of Essex because, as Perry says, celebrity is the aristocracy of the day. 

But amongst my favourites was the Ashford Hijab, a brilliantly drafted black, white and red design on a silk scarf (appropriately) illustrating the draw of Islam for young white middle aged women who are sick of consumer culture and sexualised scrutiny of women and seek instead the comparative calm and integral values of Islam. So it shows one woman leading her family towards Mecca, her hijab being the metamorphosis of a road which in turn transforms from the outlet shopping centre of consumer culture from which she flees. Brilliant. 

The Ashford Hijab (2014 © Grayson Perry)

The Ashford Hijab (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Memory Jar (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Memory Jar (2014 © Grayson Perry)

I also loved Memory Jar, the vase sensitively portraying the effects of Alzheimer’s on a couple, as the disease ravages the mind of one man leaving his wife deprived not only of his personality and mental functions, but also destroying their shared memories. As Perry says, two people are the guardians of their shared memories. Once one person goes, so does the poignancy of the memories, and in depicting this he shows a kind of demon cutting up the family photos of the couple also reflected on the vase. It’s a stunning piece. 

And of course mention has to go to Comfort Blanket, a huge banknote tapestry representing everything that is so intrinsic to British culture and which makes the country such a stable, lawful, integral place, drawing people from all over the world. Of course fish and chips looms large, as well as words like “fair play” and “Posh and Becks”. Everything on it was so English I stood in awe at how masterfully Perry had managed to capture the essence of an entire nation in one tapestry. It also felt particularly poignant for me, an Englishman, as I prepare to leave England to move overseas in only a few days time. 

Comfort Blanket (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Comfort Blanket (2014 © Grayson Perry)

Grayson Perry: Who are You? is showing at The National Portrait Gallery until 15 March 2015. Entrance is free.

Comparing Seascapes: Sussex and Spain

Two Seascapes, one England, one Spain. In Sussex in England, the sea is a silvery shade of grey. No surprise there, as it is an inseparable reflection of the cloudy skies above, whose repressive covering is broken only by a single glimmer of hope as a glint of light shines through. The seas are active, but not rough, but the winds are sufficiently energetic to catapult the kite surfer across the waters. At the shore the sand is dank and wet, it’s lightening colour resaturated with each swift revolution of the waves. 

The only thing Marbella in Spain has in common is the sea. But its colour is a startling warm blue, glimmering almost independently from the yellowing evening skies above. Above the beach, a golden paseo maritimo is fringed with regal palms whose large canopy of leaves hang as silently still as the warm balmy calm air around them. Through the leaves, the multiple strata of a mountain layered landscape each deliver a different shade of soft pink, while in front the white harbour wall of Marbella’s port colours gently to cream in the face of the setting sun. 

Seascape III: Silver Surfer (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape III: Silver Surfer (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape IV: Marbella (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

Seascape IV: Marbella (2008 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

I painted these two seascapes in 2008 when I was making a more intentional transition from acrylic into oil. These were part of a series of studies I made as I tried out the medium for the first time. Today, they hang at my parents house in Sussex, and it was when I was there this weekend that I was given the opportunity to reflect upon them, and the marked difference between seaside landscapes.

It comes at a pertinent time: in just a few days I will leave England, including the Sussex seaside town where I grew up for 18 years and which is featured in the seascape above. I will then move to Palma de Mallorca, the archetypal Mediterranean city, fringed with glorious palms and benefitting from sunshine almost the whole year around. Yet despite the very obvious benefits of moving to such a paradise, there will always be a part of me that will miss the English coast – for in its silvery wind swept beauty, the sea in England is just as special as in the Med. It’s just that more often than not, you may need a scarf and some gloves in tow to appreciate it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Paths of Glory

As millions gather across the globe today around war memorials and in reflective places holding poppies in remembrance of the horrors and losses of the First World War which began 100 years ago, I have chosen to reflect in the way I know best: through art.

Few bodies of paintings have ever captured with such visceral power and unhindered emotion the horror of war as artwork capturing the Great War. In the past, we have been used to heavily state controlled glory paintings depicting wars as valiant great history paintings full of patriotism and honour; glinting uniforms and massed weaponry; flags flapping in the wind besides stormy seas and atop galloping horses. But depictions of the First World War were always startlingly different. Instead, the emphasis was on the stories of the individuals fighting in the fields; those who had come from small villages and towns across the world without military training to face a monster of conflict never seen on the earth before. The paintings focus on the futility and the waste; the continuous struggle to a pointless end. They show landscapes ravaged and lives likewise; a world torn apart; lives treated as mere playthings.

The reason for the difference is almost certainly down to timing. WW1 came along at a time of great movement in the history of art. The impressionists had been replaced by emotionally vivid expressionism, wildly colourful fauvism, and starkly mechanical vortism. So when the greatest conflict ever known to man came along, it can be no surprise that the artists either commissioned, or inspired to reflect it on canvas or paper did so with an intensely felt emotional reaction which is as roar today as it was 100 years ago.

Christopher Nevinson, Paths of Glory (1917) Oil on canvas (Imperial War Museum, London)

Christopher Nevinson, Paths of Glory (1917) Oil on canvas (Imperial War Museum, London)

Chief amongst them is Paths of Glory by British artist Christopher Nevinson, which for me is the most perfect artistic manifestation of the pointlessness of war. Against a conflict-ravaged landscape devoid of anything but barbed wire and the detritus of war, the bodies of two British soldiers lay face down in the mud, deprived of a proper burial, of the mourning of their families, of any honour. This is a painting depicting life as a mere instrument of war – pawns in a wider political game, laid to waste on fields of human detriment.

There can be no denying the power of the painting. And that power was equally startling at the time of its creation, so much so that it was censored by the British Government who thought it may hinder the war effort, and exhibited in 1918 with censored labels affixed across the dead bodies. Thank goodness that at that time, the Imperial War Museum saw the great value of the painting and incorporated it into their startling collection of war art. For as years go by, and not a single survivor remains alive to remember it, the horrors of war will only ever be truly visible to our generation through art such as this.

Rembrandt’s Late Works: Better seen, and never forgotten

While the works of Rembrandt, Dutch master and one of the most applauded artists in the history of art, are instantly recognisable for their energetic brush strokes, moody lighting, undeniable intensity and rich umber colour palate, there is nothing like seeing his paintings in reality to truly appreciate the virtuosity of his work.

The National Gallery London’s new blockbuster on Rembrandt, The Late Works, provides just the opportunity to do that. In the dark bowels of the Sainsbury Wing of galleries, in rooms purpose-designed with dark walls and sharp focused lighting perfectly offsetting the brilliance of Rembrandt’s mastery over light, one enters the exhibition to come face to face with not one, but a whole room of Rembrandt self-portraits. Each demonstrates a startling honesty in self-examination, as the artist becomes visibly older and more saggy. But in as much as this room shows that a Rembrandt self-portrait is far from a rareity  (he made some 80 painted, drawn or etched self portraits in the course of his career), it immediately demonstrated that there is nothing like seeing these famous works in reality: for only then can you appreciate the brilliant layering of the paint, and the masterful use of brushwork to build an aging texture of skin which appears so realistic as it catches the light against a dark mocha background, that it almost feels as though Rembrandt has cast himself in three dimensions, ready to climb out of the frame when the many visitors to the exhibition have gone home.

Self-Portrait (1669)

Self-Portrait (1669)

Self-Portrait (1669)

Self-Portrait (1669)

Self Portrait with Two Circles (1665-9)

Self Portrait with Two Circles (1665-9)

Such was the main impression that this excellent new exhibition left on me as I departed. I felt thrilled to have had the opportunity to see so many brilliant works executed at the tail end of Rembrandt’s career, when his personal fortunes were in decline, but when the product of his paintbrush was more fantastic than ever. But so too was I struck by the breadth and significance of the collection on show, testament no doubt to the National Gallery’s partnership in organising the exhibition with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, who either own or have access to much of the works on show. The result is the chance to come face to face with famous works such as the Jewish Bride – a subtly romantic painting which held Van Gogh so spellbound that he declared he would give up 10 years of his life for a few moments before the painting – and the masterful group portrait, The Syndics, a superb work on a huge scale, surely surpassable only by The Night Watchmen, perhaps Rembrandt’s most famous work.

The Syndics (1662)

The Syndics (1662)

The Jewish Bride (1665)

The Jewish Bride (1665)

A Woman Bathing in a Stream (1654)

A Woman Bathing in a Stream (1654)

The Consipiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (1661)

The Consipiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis (1661)

The other thing that struck me was how bloody popular this exhibition is. Even when you have a timed ticket, you need to queue. Admittedly I went along at the weekend, but that does not mean to say that this show will be any quieter during the week, such is the appetite no doubt for a sensational London art show after a year consisting largely of flops and unknowns (I do not include Tate Modern’s brilliant Matisse or Malevich shows in this otherwise scathing review). What this then means is something of a struggle throughout the show, something which is felt less when gazing upon huge works such as the rather questionable Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis, a portion of Rembrandt’s less than successful painting for Amsterdam’s new Town Hall. It is however annoying when trying to study the stunning intricacies of Rembrandt’s print works. I never knew that he was such a skilled printmaker, and his drypoint etchings were, in particular, worth elbowing the odd visitor out of the way.

The Three Crosses (1653)

The Three Crosses (1653)

Christ Presented to the People (1655)

Christ Presented to the People (1655)

Christ Presented to the People

Christ Presented to the People

Christ Preaching (1652)

Christ Preaching (1652)

But what these crowds all go to show is how superb this show is – a final hurrah for 2014, and the first great show to come out of The National Gallery, in my view, since the Da Vinci sensation in 2011/2012. Whether it be the intense forlorn gaze of Lucretia at the point of her honour suicide, the sensationally melancholic Man in Armour thought to be Alexander the Great, or the knowledgeable calm grace of Margaretha de Geer depicted wearing her ginormous lace ruff, there are masterpieces aplenty to keep you hooked to this show, and resilient to the many crowds around you.

Rembrandt_lucretia

Portrait of Margaretha de Geer (1661)

Portrait of Margaretha de Geer (1661)

A Man in Armour (Alexander the Great?) 1655

A Man in Armour (Alexander the Great?) 1655

Rembrandt, the Late Works is on at  the National Gallery until 18th January 2015.

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