National Gallery (2014)

Good. Yeah.
Beautiful colour...
Let's go...
We know, but I think
it's worth our trying to remember,
that the Middle Ages were religious,
profoundly religious,
in a way that we can't really conceive
I want you now to imagine, if you can,
that you are inside that church,
which you see as a model, and into which
this altarpiece was once placed.
So no big windows,
obviously no electric light,
but a space like this
with very narrow windows.
The light would be filtering in.
You're not in the National Gallery,
you're inside that church.
Low light, maybe the sound of chanting,
maybe the sound of prayers
being spoken slowly.
The smell of incense used
to carry up the prayers of the faithful
to the heavenly realm.
And, if you will, now, just imagine
that you are looking at this painting
by the light of candles.
Candles which flicker. Candles
which would shine against the gold.
And you might think - because, remember,
you can't read, you can't write,
the year is 1377, your houses are
too hot in summer, too cold in winter,
death is part of the threnody of everyday life,
people are dying all the time -
you might think to yourself,
"if I'm good, I can perhaps get up
to the kingdom everlasting,
"where all is good, great and golden
And I think another thing
might also happen.
By the flickering candlelight,
you might think that
these figures were moving.
If they were moving, they were real,
and could hear your prayer and intercede
for you with Christ and the Virgin in Heaven.
So the painting would be acting as a
sacramental channel from earth to Heaven.
And in a sense,
that's how this painting worked.
I don't mean to make this sound as crude,
perhaps, as I am,
but if you will, for a moment, just imagine
that I've brought from my pocket
a picture of a sweet grey, fluffy kitten,
and I've pinned it here,
and I've said, "Here are the darts,
aim for the eyes of the grey, fluffy kitten."
It's just a bit of paper, but in some way,
you feel that you might,
in a peculiar way you can't quite explain,
be hurting some fluffy kitten,
somehow, somewhere.
So I'm not suggesting to you that,
in the year 1377, or any time onwards,
people felt, "Oh! They're moving!
They're real! They can hear me!"
But with a same kind
of grey, fluffy kitten analogy,
I am suggesting to you that
there is a very strong attachment
between representation
and the thing itself.
So we're now in the National Gallery,
having a look quite quietly,
thinking about aesthetics and gold and
colours made from ground pigment.
But what we must remember is how
this was originally intended to be seen.
So, I've tried to sort of pull together
my first thoughts,
and I don't mean this to be a criticism...
I don't... I'm quite keen on criticism.
No, I'm just trying to be very open here.
I think what comes out of it
is that, as an organisation -
I suppose that's probably
a bit why I'm here -
our public voice is quite
weakly represented
when we have forums together
and we're talking about things.
And I kind of tried to chunk
that up this morning, of,
"How does that manifest itself?"
One is that just, quite simply,
I still find it quite amazing
that we don't kind of really talk much
about the public and the visitors.
But actually, I don't think that, when
it comes to a lot of what we talk about,
in some of our meetings
that actually are talking about
communications out to the public,
we're not necessarily focusing on those
52 million people and their needs
as much as I think we could be
and should be.
It would be good to think
that we could foster a culture
where we focus a little bit more on,
you know, "What are our public needs
and how are we meeting them?"
- Yeah.
- I was thinking... My next little diagram -
this was all three o'clock in the morning,
son of stuff -
I was thinking, if we are, you know,
the National Gallery,
and we were talking about, you know,
Old Masters at our heart,
and we are a number of things,
we're conservation, research,
preservation, heritage, all around
the collection and education of it,
we are also a visitor attraction, and I know
that word's horrid, but we are also that,
and if our mission is to make our Old
Masters more central lo modern cultural life,
then I think there needs
to be more of that dialogue
around the audience as the centre as well.
Still having art at the centre, but it's like
having another bubble that comes off,
where we're looking
at those audience needs,
and the conversations will talk about,
you know,
how are people reacting to us emotionally,
in terms of their pleasure,
in terms of intellectualism,
in terms of the academic side,
in terms of self-development, spiritually?
And those kind of conversations can help
inform the son of decision-making
that we're doing in meetings
like that titian meeting yesterday.
I thought that meeting yesterday
was fantastic,
and I think the outcome
was absolutely right.
But I think, going forward, it would be good
if we could have more conversation
about the audience that are gonna...
what their needs are,
and what our communications
need to reflect going forward.
Alongside, you know,
what we want to say about the art,
we also need to be thinking the end person
that's gonna see our communications.
- Yeah.
- What are their needs?
And I found some of the meetings
that we have,
particularly the sort of, you know,
very large meetings,
where perhaps a curator's standing up
and talking about a subject, is fantastic,
but there needs to be the other dialogue
that goes on that then carries it on
so we're not just seeing it
from "What's our perspective?"
but "What's the perspective of the people
"that are actually gonna see
what we're trying to show them
"through our exhibitions
and marketing and stuff?"
So my hope - and this is, you know,
if there's this opportunity
to talk about one's vision going forward
with the trustees in June -
my hope is that we can make that dialogue
more central to what we're doing
at exec, and in some
of our exhibition meetings.
And on my side, I'm trying to imbue,
you know, the marketing and PR side
with more of that stepping back
and actually looking at things
from the audience point of view.
So it's a question of balance. I'm trying
to get, perhaps, a more balanced view,
where our processes enable us to look
at the end user's needs, sort of thing...
- Yes.
- ...alongside the curatorial needs.
I understand all this. I would like to have
some examples of where you've felt...
we've failed, or because we hadn't...
done this...
A lot of what we do is absolutely beautiful
in terms of exhibitions,
lovely when it comes to the marketing,
beautiful imagery,
absolutely gorgeous, high quality...
But I think, because we're sometimes
not going through that process
of thinking of it
from the audience perspective,
we sometimes don't do that,
what's - ugh - crudely called in marketing
a sort of call to action.
We don't say, "This is the reason
why you must come and see it."
Now, with something like Leonardo,
it does it itself.
- Everybody wants to see it.
- Yeah.
You could argue we should
have done less.
No, no. So Leo isn't a good example.
You've just got to put up that beautiful
picture and everybody wants to see it.
But other things, we need to actually make
them come alive in a different way,
because people don't get it immediately.
They don't understand,
you know, what we offer.
And it's part of that conversation
we had a few days ago about,
"What's the National Gallery represent?"
When you look at the research
we've done recently,
people love the National Gallery when
they get here and they understand it,
but to the average, sort of,
person on the street, as it were,
they don't quite understand
what we are and what we've got.
The fact we've got these amazing paintings,
they don't get it,
cos we're quite discreet
in how we tell them that.
You know, I do have
some prejudices to overcome.
What I don't want is to end up
with the gallery...
producing things to the kind of lowest
common denominator of public taste.
But I don't even want the kind of av...
I mean, I'd rather have
spectacular success followed by...
sort of, really interesting failure,
- than have kind of average, you know'?
- No...
In fact, I'm quite in favour
of those things going up and down.
OK, thanks.
I'm going to try something
a little bit new today,
I'm going to try something
a little bit new today,
which is because the painting is slight...
is sort of rather more abstract
than most of the ones we talk about.
So we're going to have a bit of a go
with some touch drawings.
I... I son of made a very, sort of,
simple sketch of the main structures
of the picture
and then put it through this very exciting
machine that heats it up and it all goes furry.
I don't know whether it's going to work
for you, but I just thought it was worth a try
and that it might help some people
get the overall structure of the picture,
which is not a narrative painting
or a painting with great detail.
So the sort of abstract shapes
within it are quite useful,
to, sort of, get a sense of.
And then we'll move on to
a normal reproduction as well.
- If you could possibly...
- I'll pass those around.
Thank you.
Raised image here.
Professor Whitestick,
I'll be back in a minute.
Raised image here.
So, today we're talking about Camille
Pissarro's Boulevard Montmartre at Night.
It was made in 1897,
so just over a hundred years ago.
Certainly, the viewpoint he takes,
which is a viewpoint from a hotel window,
high above, an aerial viewpoint
of these streets,
adds to the sense of someone
who's a little bit distant.
Whereas his colleagues
would have a viewpoint like that
but include, somehow,
a sense of themselves,
even if it was just
a bit of balcony or whatever,
he... you just get no sense
of the window frame,
no sense of his presence,
and the whole thing is viewed,
you know, at a distance.
And the particular painting
we're looking at,
though it was one of a whole series
of 14 of the Boulevard Montmartre...
He went for these big campaigns,
painting a lot of pictures at once,
trying to capture the changing light effects,
so he might have several paintings
on the go.
But this is an exceptional one,
because it's the only night-time one.
His work's always a little bit dappled,
you might say,
and full of little brushstrokes,
but in this one, nothing is very clear
because it's dark and it's been raining,
and all the sort of things that can be seen
are sort of merged together
in this great sort of watery pool
of colour, light and shape.
What we're thinking about
is the general structure of the picture,
and we're thinking about it a bit like a flag.
So you're seeing an aerial view
of a street scene.
At the front of the picture is the...
is an upside-down V
going in towards the middle.
So it's a flag divided into four triangles.
The bottom, upside-down V triangle
is the street.
So it's basically a great whoosh of space,
leading towards the point
where all the triangles converge,
which is exactly halfway down the picture.
And then, the right-hand side is a V with
its apex meeting the disappearing point,
and then, the left-hand side
is a triangle on its left-hand side,
and then, the top is a real V,
and that, of course, represents the sky.
Take both your hands and put them
son of at the top of the picture,
and then come down a bit.
If you go from the top corners,
and then down a little bit,
and then you move your hands
inwards and downwards,
following the diagonals...
Can you feel the tops of the buildings?
I've only put the main sort of forms in.
And above that is an empty space,
which is a beautiful, deep, soft, smoky,
dark bluey-mauve
that dominates the painting.
So that's the sky.
Take that line of the tops of the buildings
and go to the... where the two lines meet.
Do you see that they meet
at a sort of bubble,
where the lines converge?
Yes? So that's
the sort of disappearing point.
And he punctuates that
with a tiny little dot of light.
So, overall, it's a really dark picture.
It's almost like a sort of semi-transparent
curtain's been drawn over the whole scene,
and it's very much nighttime.
And yet, it's punctuated all over the place
by these flares of light.
And they sort of emphasize the structure
and give a sense of excitement
of this son of city scene,
which is a great characteristic
of this picture.
So, not surprisingly, the furthest light
of a great line of streetlights,
the furthest light is at the point
where all these triangles converge.
It's almost like a sort of great symphony
to light in darkness, there.
And there are all these people,
out there on the street.
I've read people son of trying
to make something
of this being something
to do with his anarchism as well.
Certainly, in the paintings
where you can see more clearly,
the daylight pictures, he does make...
he does ensure that he defines the different
people and their different social class.
So you see people with top hats,
you see people who are selling things,
you know, you see all sorts.
In this picture, you don't get that,
because it's all so ill-defined.
But he is unlike many of his colleagues
in that he does show all strata of society.
Remember to keep
looking around you.
Always look around. Be careful, though.
Let's go nice and slowly, don't run.
I don't want you to fall over.
It doesn't have a magic carpet next to it,
but it is the painting.
Please, have a seat.
So this is the story of Moses.
It's the story about how a little baby boy
is sent down the river
and then picked up again,
given to the princess,
who gives it back to the mother,
and he grows up to be an amazing
and fantastic person.
Now, if you like the story of Moses, you
might like to see more stories about Moses.
And there are lots of other storm
about Moses in the National Gallery.
But if you think to yourself,
"I've had it up to here with Moses,
"I'm sick of Moses,
I want to see somebody else,"
there's lots of other stories you might wanna
learn about in the National Gallery.
There are people writing.
There are people eating
and being surprised.
There are people -
you might not believe this -
there's an old man over there
who's being fed by ravens.
There's a raven, a little black bird,
that's giving him his food.
All these amazing stories
in National Gallery paintings for you to see.
This is a portrait
which was commissioned by Henry
lo fulfill another one
of his demands, really,
to, as I say, to son of almost
meet Christina by proxy
through the medium of the portrait,
so that he could decide
whether he wanted to marry her.
So Holbein is dispatched to Brussels
in March 1538.
This is following the death of Henry VIII's
third wife, Jane Seymour.
And Henry is sort of desperately trying
to identify a suitable fourth wife.
Holbein arrives, Hans Holbein,
sent by the King of England,
to paint a portrait
on the understanding
that if it satisfies the King,
she's then going to go over to London
and become the Queen of England.
Henry is said to have fallen in love with it,
and to have been very, very keen
to arrange the marriage.
But that doesn't happen.
There's an anecdotal statement-
we don't know whether this is true -
that Christina herself
said to the English envoy,
"if I had two heads, one should be
at the disposal of the King of England."
So it seems that she herself had a sense
that this wouldn't necessarily
be a good match for her.
And, ultimately, Henry gave up.
This is a very sort of simple picture
in its composition.
The sort of frontal pose
is very deliberate here,
so that Henry could actually sort of see
exactly what she looked like,
no sort of profile view that's hiding
any blemishes or imperfections.
But the use of light
across the features, again,
is very, very subtle
and carefully modulated
so that there's a hint of an expression,
there's a hint of animation in her features.
She seems to be ever so subtly
sort of wryly observing the artist
as she observes him.
And I always feel, looking at this painting,
this portrait,
that this really is a young woman
fully in possession of her faculties.
Very intelligent, squarely facing the world,
and ready for anything
that the world might throw at her.
So I'll stop there and say
thank you very much and goodbye.
How did Leonardo da Vinci start off
with a blank panel and a palette of oil paints
How did Leonardo da Vinci start off
with a blank panel and a palette of oil paints
and create a painting
of such sublime beauty'?
If you just look
at that flower in the comer there,
how did that happen?
It's this wonderful mixture
of observation and imagination.
What was in the artist's...
What was Velazquezs intention
on painting Venus with her back to us,
but with that bewitching look in the mirror?
And how did Stubbs achieve
such an anatomically accurate
representation of a horse?
This painting is huge, so physically,
there must have been great challenges
in painting it.
But artistically, look at the detail,
look at the observation
that the artist was able to represent.
And what was in Van Gogh's mind when
he painted this glorious vase of sunflowers,
with its brilliant use of colour
to convey mood?
Just look at the number of colours
that are in this painting.
It's really yellow and green,
but with this amazing blue stripe through it,
and a blue frame to the vase.
And how does that use of blue, juxtaposed
against that great splurge of yellow,
represent something in the artist's mind?
All of it, really, is about looking,
and about reflecting,
and about learning ways
to decode paintings
and understand what
the artist's intention was.
And however you look at a painting,
whether it's through a very
art historical perspective,
or whether it's through looking at its history
and how it came to be at the gallery,
or whether it's through looking
at colour or form or composition,
this gallery provides you
with wonderful opportunities
to explore the human condition.
And we hope, with Take One Picture, that
it's not just about knowledge and learning.
That's one half of it.
The other half of it is finding your own
creative response to the paintings,
finding ways in which these paintings
have a relevance to you today.
And I think many of you
will go back into your schools
and find a whole myriad of ways
to give your pupils the chance
to do this very same exploration.
No, it's nice to see it up here.
I think that you should make a proposal.
- That it be cleaned.
- Do you?
- Yeah, yeah.
- For... Well, that's...
So just state that it would benefit
from a good cleaning and restoration.
I'm bothered by all the retouching up here.
I'm bothered by all the retouching,
evident retouching,
- in the mantle of the Madonna, of the blue.
- Yeah, yeah. But it...
Which is not nearly so...
- But I do see that.
- Her mouth...
- And also...
- Yeah.
Is this retouching?
Or is ii crazed varnish?
- Crazed varnish.
- Just crazed varnish.
- Similarly, round her mouth.
- Yeah.
Actually, look, that's ground.
That honey colour.
He's dragged the lighter colour
across the shadow.
- Yeah.
- Then there's that little orangey bit.
- That's ground. Absolutely.
- Yes. Yes.
- Yeah.
- Ya.
- Not retouching.
- No.
This is the story
of Samson and Delilah,
Old Testament story, in which we are told
how the Philistines want
to bring down the power of the Israelites.
And, in particular, to break Samson.
So they're going to advance
their secret weapon, Delilah,
and have her seduce Samson
so that they can destroy the Israelites.
So, in a sense, you've got a spy story.
You've got the beautiful spy
going off to sleep with the enemy.
And in the Biblical account,
we're told how, time after time,
she goes to his campaign lent,
all decked up and looking gorgeous,
trying to find out where his strength lies.
Time after time after time, he lies,
but his desire for her becomes so great
that, bit by bit, visit after visit,
he finally tells her.
I want all of you to imagine
that you are a spy,
and that you have been sent
by your people, your tribe, your nation,
to be very nice
and get secrets out of the enemy.
So, first of all, the enemy is the enemy.
But after you've had a drink or two,
a meal, chat with the enemy,
and pretended to love the enemy,
you are beginning to feel differently
towards the enemy.
And what has been pretended...
might become real.
It messes with your mind.
And I think Rubens, who's this painter
of great psychological import,
has realized what's going on
in the mind of Delilah.
She has pretended to,
and perhaps eventually come to feel, love.
And she has finally slept with Samson.
He has fallen asleep. This can happen.
- And...
she knows that this consummation
of his desire
is going to lead directly to his death.
The Philistines are emerging
through the open door there,
flames shining, reflecting on their armour.
We've got this kind
of hermetic sealant of curtain,
purple, rich purple curtain, hanging,
the rich scarlet of her dress,
the gold of her cloak,
making this hot and rich.
Various light sources are adding to this,
plus the covert haircut.
The candle is being held
by this old woman,
and very carefully, the barber
is making his first incision.
We're not looking at a Delilah triumphant,
she's not going, "Yes! Gotcha!" is she?
She's looking ambiguous.
She is bending tenderly over him,
with, perhaps, a look of dismay.
I'm not going to tell you what you think
she's feeling, we'll all read it differently,
but her body is leaning away.
On the one hand,
literally on the left hand,
there's a tender gesture of hand on back.
But the other hand is away from him.
It really is on the one hand,
and on the other.
She has, over the time that
she has been trying to seduce Samson,
as any human being would, gone through
a series of mental transformations.
It must be very distressing, now,
to realize that the man
that she has just had these relations with
is now going to die,
directly as a consequence of her actions.
She has,
and I'm hesitating to use this word,
she has betrayed him.
But then she must think to herself,
"But, no.
"I was working for my country.
"To have done otherwise
would have been to betray my country."
It's about betrayal, it's about notions
of one's tribe or people,
and about what, perhaps,
might be happening in the mind
of anyone put into this kind of position.
But imagine, if you 'will, now, going
into the house of the brgermeister,
and seeing this above his fireplace.
And there you would be,
with, you know, the brgermeister,
with a rather large painting behind you
of Delilah with her breasts uncovered.
What would you say?
You have to view paintings,
or narrative paintings, as early films,
and as forms of entertainment.
So the artist to decide at what point
in the story are they going...
is he or she going to focus on?
So again, when you come to your work,
when you've had all your different ideas,
you have to sift through.
Which moment? What point?
What's the climax?
What, to you, is the most important thing
that you can communicate?
And how can you interpret
that form of encounters, experiences,
or chance meetings the best?
Paintings are very, very ambiguous.
You can look at them in one way,
you can interpret them in another.
And as your experiences change - and
I know, because I come in here every day -
paintings change,
and how you look at them changes as well.
Can we get straight on
to the proposed Sport Relief?
I don't see that the use of the portico
for various purposes
is much different from the idea of projecting
things onto the front of the gallery,
which we've always,
you know, resolutely objected to,
on the grounds that, you know,
it's a tremendous opportunity for us
if we're doing something for the gallery.
I mean, there are various ways
of looking at it.
But I think the right decision was that we
should not have people projecting things,
using our faade as a billboard, if you like.
When... because it diminishes the impact
of any occasion when we wish to do it.
But it also just looks
as if we're up for sale, you know?
I mean, frankly... I mean, I know there's
an alternative way of looking at it,
which is that everyone, you know...
it gains publicity for the... for the gallery,
but does it, actually...
get the right type of publicity'?
The right type of recognition?
I mean, this is the interesting question.
I'm inclined to say no, because,
obviously, a very worthy charity,
but is it more worthy
than a hundred other charities?
One of the things
that we need to balance it, again,
is the profile aspect of it,
is that it's an opportunity for us, potentially,
to take a little bit more involvement,
if you like,
in something that has the potential
to be broadcast to 18 million viewers.
And I think that's the balance, isn't it'?
You know, is... are we...
are we either happy not to align ourselves
with these chosen charities
or do we think,
"It's going to happen anyway.
"Should we perhaps try and take
a bit more ownership of it and..."
- What's going to happen anyway?
- Well, the event is.
We weren't consulted about
whether we wanted something
to obstruct the access
to the National Gallery.
We'd never have said,
'We want a marathon to end
"in front of the National Gallery."
Because a marathon, the end of a marathon
involves people on either side,
so you can't get into the National Gallery.
So someone else has made the decision
we're a great place
for the end of a marathon.
That's... And now, it's got so we're told
it's going to happen anyway.
Well, I want to be involved in the decision
as to whether the National Gallery
is the right place for ending a marathon.
And I'm not, instead, someone else
is making that decision,
'We're going to end a marathon
in front of the National Gallery."
Then we're being told, 'Well,
since it'll happen anyway,
"no one'll be able to get
into the gallery,
"can we have a marvelous
photo opportunity
"to show that in fact, the National Gallery
is all about Sports Relief?"
I mean... And also, you say, you know,
"chosen charities".
Who's going to choose them?
I mean, it's going to be a...
I do have a hell of a lot of requests
to use the gallery for charitable purposes.
I mean, one problem with this, of course,
is also that, you know,
the whole question of a charity...
which we are,
assist... you know, using its facilities
and everything for another charity,
which trustees are, you know,
very concerned about.
It's always a worry of ours that...
You know, when people have asked
if they can have charitable events
within the National Gallery,
- we've always...
- We don't do that.
But we appear in the backdrop,
with our banners, like it or not.
And that's just part of the London...
that's part of that landmark.
So this race, I imagine,
will end in Trafalgar Square,
and I...
You know, you can imagine the footage,
the filming of an individual,
running up towards Trafalgar Square,
to the north terrace.
We'll be in the backdrop.
I just feel that the National Gallery
is a whole...
- It closes the whole end of this square.
- Mm.
And all these events are going on,
all these things are being planned
- without us being properly involved.
- Consulted.
And that all we say is at the last minute,
you know,
"Well, it's gonna happen anyway,
so can we just use it?"
- Jill, you're...
- Yeah, and I think we should use this.
And Greg and I go back to Westminster
and just use this as an example
of things that they have to talk to us about,
so that we're
much more joined up with them,
because we need more notice on this,
so I think we should pick that up
as an action point if you support that.
- I totally do, yes.
- Yeah!
And it would be a good example
to be able to quote.
I supported Julie when
we first heard about this,
cos I thought the exposure is fantastic,
and it is very populist and it actually
gets us to 18 million people,
and it's therefore a good association,
and my only concern in this
is that obviously, it is setting a precedent
in terms of charities, so it does...
you know, in associating
with charities to a degree.
And that was the only struggle
I've had with it,
of how to then actually say no
to other organizations.
Whereas before, we can be very cut...
you know, cut and dry on it.
But outside of that,
if you're able to get round that,
or felt that we could associate with it
and it's a one-off,
and that we're not going
to do this as a habit,
I think it actually could be quite doable.
I mean, I would have thought
that at this relatively early stage,
we'd be at a point where,
if we wanted to do it,
we could work with them
so we actually make it possible.
So it's only a half-hour shot
of an interview,
and maybe one can keep
the portico open
by having people directed
through a different way.
I mean, I think if we believed in it,
we could make it happen.
- And could you...
- But it's... Sony.
Could you articulate what you think
the National Gallery gets out of it?
I think it's an associa... I think it's actually...
Cos we do appear rather on our pedestal,
physically, literally.
It's actually a way to be there
and seen to be part of common culture.
Sport Relief has a massive following,
and is very much for the nation, as it were.
So it's associating with something
that gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.
It's how I'd sort of rationalize it,
but I do accept it is quite difficult
in setting precedents with charities,
and we do get many, many requests.
I think what they're looking for
is either a no or a yes in principle.
If the answer is yes in principle,
then we can -
Jill and I, or whomever -
can work to shape that,
so that if we think, then, that we need
to sort of get more out of it, if you like,
we can be doing that,
whether that's in terms of profile
or actually financially as well.
OK, what about Chinese New Year?
Why shouldn't we be involved in that?
I mean, would you say yes
to Chinese New Year?
- Well, you don't have quite the same...
- We don't want...
...rationale in terms of profile, do you?
- You know, it's a profile-raising thing.
Whereas it's different from
other events that are happening,
simply because of the breadth
of the reach you'd get.
The example...
Well, one criterion would be
how many millions are going
to be actually watching it?
I think it would be dangerous
to suggest that we'll be able
to get a lot of coverage per se,
but on the other hand, if we feel that,
you know, as per our corporate objectives,
we want to be seen as more approachable
in the very positive sense,
it is one way of doing it
for half an hour once a year.
- So, you know... And if we said...
- That's interesting.
- ...this is not something we'll do...
- That's an interesting one, Jill.
Half an hour every year,
there'll be our...
- that's going to be one of our fences.
- Well, no...
- No, no, seriously...
- We might say we'll consider
one thing a year that supports
something that is...
- loved by the nation...
- Compatible.
...and compatible and for everyone.
I mean, one could rationalize that.
We'd decide, if there wasn't an opportunity
on certain years, we wouldn't do it.
- Perhaps...
- We wouldn't do it if... Sorry.
If it causes a lot of disruption to our public.
But if there's something
that's not going to,
and we can work with Sports Relief to make
it minimum disruption to our visitors...
Let's talk about that for a bit,
the disruption.
Because we sat round this table,
and we were all sure
that we were going to work
with Harry Potter to make it work.
What actually happened was that, in fact,
the National Gallery
was completely blocked,
and inasmuch as it wasn't blocked,
people were just using the Sainsbury Wing
as a spectator point to look out the gallery.
I think the gallery did probably make
the right decision about Harry Potter.
It was most unsatisfactory.
But in fact, none of the sort of guarantee
that we were talking about
actually could be effectively
implemented at the time.
We're talking about a certain type
of advertising.
And when you see a football match
on television,
and you see these huge signs,
they're all about running shoes and things.
I mean, they're...
there's some sort of relationship.
They're not about Goya and Picasso, even.
So it seems to me
the more disparity there is
between the different types of public
which are for one thing and the other,
the more it actually looks
as if one's just short of cash.
I mean, in other words,
or is in desperate need of publicity.
I mean, I just don't know.
I just don't see how it's seriously going to..
The name National Gallery
can be announced a lot,
but what, in this context,
would that do for us'?
What does that tell people
about what the gallery really is'?
You have to continue
with these negotiations, anyway.
One of the highlights
of the gallery,
a painting that many people
come along and see.
At some point, in 1533,
these two men, meeting as they did,
did what we might do, were we to meet
a fellow countryman in a foreign place.
They had their picture taken.
Clearly, there's no handing a camera
to a passer-by or a waiter.
The only way, until the advent
of photography, to have an image,
is to have a painter paint you.
They had money. They were wealthy.
They could pay for the bat painter
living in England to capture their image.
And the top painter living and working
in London in 1533
was the German painter Hans Holbein.
And at some point, the three men,
Hans Holbein, Jean de Dinteville,
Georges de Selve,
would have got together
and discussed this composition.
They're the ones telling
the painter what to do.
Probably, Jean de Dinteville
having the greater say,
because it was his painting, he paid,
it went back to his chteau in Polisy,
and it could well be
that Hans Holbein had no idea
of the whole significance of everything
he was being asked to make.
I have a colleague who thinks
this is all about a murder that took place.
And I look at it and I see,
"But where? What?"
And he says, "I'm not telling you.
You'll steal my idea and publish it."
So none of us knows what it is,
but all we have is what we can go on.
And there is the lute case,
the box, the empty box,
which perhaps reminds us
of the coffin, of death,
which is also alluded to here
by this distorted skull.
It's an example of anamorphosis.
You look at it full on,
from where you are, it's unreadable,
but from where you are, it reads as a skull.
And we don't know whose idea it was.
Did Holbein say, "Your Excellencies,
why not have an anamorphic skull?
"See, I've made one here,"
and they thought, "Oh, that's good, yeah.
"That'll look really good back
in the chteau at Polisy."
Or had one of these two men
heard about it and said,
"Master Holbein, can you fashion
for us a cunning perspective?"
We don't know.
But all of you know that to put a skull,
which is a symbol of death, into a portrait
is a strange and unusual thing, perhaps.
Certain symbols,
certain objects are multivalent,
they carry manifold symbols.
But not the skull. The skull is always,
is it not, a symbol of death?
So perhaps the reading of this
might be that death is ever present.
Hiding, but ever present.
You never know when it might occur.
And in fact, he didn't make old bones at all.
But perhaps, carried within this,
was a message
which Jean de Dinteville could talk about
when he showed anyone this painting
in his house at Polisy.
Maybe the message was
something like this.
No matter how rich, young -
he was 29, or in his 29th year,
he in his 25th year-
handsome, interested in
and worried about the world you are,
in the end, it all comes down
to the grim invincible,
and the only thing to be considered
in this world is salvation,
represented by
the almost hidden crucifix, top left.
It's a brilliant thing about art,
it encompasses everything.
It's not just about either drawing
or painting, it's about life.
It's about music, it's about film,
it's about philosophy,
it's about mathematics, it's about science,
it's about literature.
Anything you are interested in...
goes into art.
And that's why I became an artist,
and that's what fascinates me.
It doesn't matter what you're interested in,
it can all feed in.
And I want to also talk about how we can
use these paintings in the collection.
Because it might seem to you,
"Hang on a minute.
'We're looking at 17th century,
16th century, 19th century.
'What on earth use is that for us today
in the 21st century?"
Now, I don't make paintings.
I do a lot of drawing.
But I make installations.
So I make things that take over a room
that people can interact with.
And yet, these paintings here give me
a huge amount of inspiration.
And I come in here almost every day.
So I want them to do that for you.
Now, I'm going to be
sort of blunt about this,
because it's important that you know this.
The collection is founded on slavery.
John Julius Angerstein,
who had the nucleus of the collection,
worked for Lloyd's,
who were insurers against slave-boats.
And it's very important that people
absolutely understand
that a lot of the institutions,
whether you're talking Tate,
whether you're talking British Museum,
a lot of these big institutions
are founded from money,
and it's something, obviously,
that should never be forgotten,
and should always be understood.
And also, Britain's
very, very shameful part in that
shouldn't, obviously, be forgotten either.
Let's start first with Stubbs,
the great horse painter.
You look at this portrait of a horse,
and it's hard to imagine that this is painted
by someone that didn't really
particularly train as an artist.
He was largely self-taught.
He established a career first
as a portrait painter,
and as an anatomist,
he studied anatomy at York Hospital,
and ended up actually drawing illustrations
for a new book on midwifery.
So he's already established himself
as an artist in one way,
but then he set himself down
for 18 months in a farmhouse -
this was in 1756-
and devoted that time, a year and a half,
to studying the anatomy of horses.
He was close to a tannery
that took the hides off of them,
and they gave him
the corpses of these horses.
And he rigged up, in this farmhouse,
a great iron bar,
and pulley systems,
and he put planks of wood
underneath the horses' legs,
so that he would suspend them,
literally, from hooks, on the ceiling,
like a piece of meal,
and then would start to go about drawing
all of the muscles that he could see,
and the tendons,
and then he would scalpel away,
and lift away another layer of muscles,
and draw what was underneath,
until he eventually got to the skeleton.
And then he would animate that,
he would draw and write notes.
So this was big news,
what Stubbs was doing.
'Scuse me.
No photos, please. 'Scuse me.
I'm very bad at maths.
I'm very bad at maths.
I was bad at maths at your age,
I'm bad at maths at my age,
and I will always be bad at maths,
I think - I'd like to change.
The reason why I like an
rather than maths -
although they are connected somehow -
is that in art, you can be right
in lots of different ways,
but in maths, you can only really be
right once, otherwise you're wrong.
I do really like that about an.
One of the reasons I wanted to show you
this painting is to talk about saints,
but is also to talk about storytelling.
I think that's really, really important.
Think about the way that a painting,
whether it's this painting -
this is by an artist called Bellini -
or it's Diana and Actaeon, or it's Death
of Actaeon, which we're gonna be seeing,
or it's Bacchus and Ariadne,
a painting has got to tell its whole story
in a single image.
A book or a poem has time.
The one thing that paintings don't have
is time - do you know what I mean?
So a film unfolds over two hours.
You've got time to introduce characters.
You've got time to show
the plot going in and out.
A book, a huge book, can take you
six months to read or longer, can't it?
Can do. Can do.
It means you're living
with the story for six months,
and it goes in and out, it weaves around,
new characters are introduced,
different things happen.
That's got time, too.
But a painting doesn't have time. A painting
has the speed of light to tell you the story.
It has the time it takes to see the painting.
So telling a story in a painting
is incredible skilful.
So I wanna think a little bit more, before we
move on to 'Titian, which we will do soon,
about how this artist tells the story.
What else is in the painting?
Can you think of a reason... Cos in
the actual story, there's no woodcutters.
In the story, there's just St Peter Martyr
and his assistant,
who you can see there escaping,
walking along, alongside a wood,
near Milan in northern Italy,
when they were set upon by assassins.
One assassin killed St Peter Martyr,
and as St Peter Martyr was dying,
he wrote "I believe" in blood on the ground.
Now, he's not doing it in this one,
but there's another version of this scene
in another gallery in London,
a place called the Courtauld Gallery,
where he is writing "I believe" in blood.
It's quite... It's quite gruesome, isn't it'?
Quite a gruesome story.
But quite moving, as well.
The other guy escapes.
No mention of woodcutters.
Totally irrelevant.
Why do you think he put them in?
And they take up so much space.
The woodcutters and what they're involved
with, in other words, the wood,
take up most of the painting.
Why did he do that? Yeah?
Maybe because it gives the painting
a little more character?
Definitely gives the painting
more character. It totally does.
Think about this. A tragic event,
perhaps made more tragic
if there are people around
who don't recognize what's going on.
Who don't see it as a tragedy.
I'm trying to think of an example. I wonder
if you might know an example, I don't know.
But there's something... It happens a lot
in plays by Shakespeare, for example.
There are people who don't know
what's happening,
and they go, "What's happening
over there?"
There's a lovely painting,
which is not actually in this gallery,
but it's a painting of the fall of Icarus.
Icarus was the one who made the 'wings...
Do you know it?
He made wings of wax,
flew too close to the sun.
Fantastic painting,
where almost all of the painting
is people not noticing what's going on,
people ploughing the fields
and doing lots of other things,
while in the background,
he plunks into the ocean and dies.
There's a famous poem about that
by Auden, which is a really good poem
about how people don't really notice
these things happening.
I think these woodcutters are partly there
to make it even more tragic,
because they just keep going
on and on and on.
It's amazing, isn't it,
how it adds a sense of narrative
as soon as there's an object,
and this is what this pole...
I'm seeing all sorts of paintings
in the gallery where there's sort of...
Suddenly, there might be some sort
of story... woven into this pose.
We can't help ourselves but add narrative
when we're dealing with the human body.
And if you want to include
any elements from the room,
thinking about vertical lines behind,
or horizontal lines,
finding lines of connection.
So try and constantly look
at the relationship
between the head and the shoulder girdle,
between the shoulder girdle
and the pelvis.
Be brave and add that vertical line
to contrast the curves of the body.
Now that we're slowing down,
and really looking,
so start to move more quickly
around the body,
making marks in sort
of continuous movement
as you... as you work around it
with your eyes.
Leave a leg, move back to a shoulder.
Go up to the top of the head.
Move very freely around, so you get
a sense of how this pose is working.
This hand should be big.
- Cos it's going to hide that forearm.
- It should be... Yes.
Yeah, cos it's... the gap between it...
The gap between the son of nipple
and first knuckle of the hand,
- if you can sort of draw that gap...
- Mm.
- Then you'll be seeing... As you move...
- That's that line there, right?
- Ah.
- That's that line.
- That's the line of the crease in her elbow.
- Yeah.
But I'm thinking about the actual bit of air
between breast and... and fist.
- Mm. Yeah. That space is... that gap.
- Yeah. Yeah.
So trying to sort of measure
that space, really,
- and place the hand so that it...
- Mm.
It's like bookending, isn't it,
the space in the middle?
- Mm.
- If that makes sense.
- Easier said than done.
- Yeah! Get her hand in!
- I think... I'm not sure...
- If you're wrestling with it,
just draw it a few times
on another piece of paper,
and then come back.
Think about how you want
to use your pencil.
You can work in cross-hatching
to build up tone,
you can start to smudge chalk
if you want to think about light and dark.
If you're using the chalks,
you might want to switch.
If you've been using the black chalk,
maybe explore the red chalk as well,
so you get the much softer mark
with the red chalk.
Black chalk's slightly more
sort of bound together.
See if that changes the way that you draw.
Just have another 30 seconds
on this drawing.
So if you're working your way
around the figure,
just see if you want to, in very brief strokes,
complete this pose.
...from yesterday!
So good!
Reception. Does that mean...
No. He's just gone to check.
See how many we have left.
Very beautiful.
What a blessing.
Maybe a kind gesture.
More awakening.
Awakening gesture.
Even while the exhibition's been open,
Even while the exhibition's been open,
have there been insights that you've been
getting into the work of Leonardo?
One of the things that you do
as you start working on an exhibition
is to think about what
the whole narrative will be.
But you're also cataloguing
each work individually,
so at a certain point,
it becomes a mosaic, perhaps,
rather than a seamless narrative.
And, obviously, that remains the case
to some degree.
But at the same time, you are beginning
to see these works together,
you're beginning to be able to appreciate
what makes them very special
as a kind of viewing experience.
And I suppose
what I've been struck about...
Well, I suppose what I've been struck by,
over and over again,
is this quality within these works,
whereby the paintings show figures
that are incredibly present,
incredibly vital, and yet extraordinarily
remote and other, as if they...
And that's something that, for me,
is very much a unifying factor.
So I suppose what I've been doing
is seeing the works together,
thinking about what makes them
a complete oeuvre by a single artist,
what makes them Leonardo.
And it's really, I suppose,
I've been struck, over and over again,
by the quality of thought allied
with a kind of pitch of emotion
and an intensity of craft,
and it's that, really, that seeing the pictures
together has made me understand
about this extraordinary artist.
And have there been any insights,
anything you've learned that surprised you,
particularly since the work
has been gathered here?
What I've been amazed by
is how profound and layered and endless
the viewing experience is with Leonardo.
How you always feel that this is an artist
who goes on giving with each of the works.
And in fact, one of the ways I think
you can distinguish a Leonardo painting
from one by a member of his workshop
is that... is this process
of endless revelation,
whereby it's almost as if sort of
onion layers are being peeled away,
and yet you never, ever
quite get to the core.
Leonardo's capacity to paint the invisible,
just out of reach, is really extraordinary,
and that's been the revelation,
but it's not about, you know,
who painted what,
or... or anything of that kind,
it's really about the personality of the artist.
I think, for what it's worth, that it's
this spiritual quality in Leonardo's work
that has raised this exhibition
to the event it's been,
in the sense that it's not
just about the name,
it's about something to do
with the way in which
these pictures speak
to people across time.
Leonardo created
a kind of archive of drawings,
and they're about invention
and they're about observation,
and they're about looking
and thinking and so on.
And they're... and he kept some of those,
and they go on being an extraordinary
point of reference for each new stage.
He's an artist who constantly refines and
revisits certain themes over and over again.
And really, as I say, in doing that,
each of these works
becomes ever more considered,
ever more felt, as well.
And that's the difference
between him and his pupils.
It's really in his... it's really in his...
That's the difference
between him and his pupils.
It's really in his pupils' work
that you just don't see that.
You can see motifs being repeated,
you can see beautiful craft,
but you don't see
that exquisiteness of thought.
- OK, great, thanks.
- OK.
Great, thanks very much.
So, I've already taken
some samples.
I took a couple to look at the varnish,
cos, as you can probably see,
with a bit of an angle,
there's a varnish layer
which shows up clearly.
- It doesn't come all the way to the edge.
- OK.
There's a sort of drip
of it that's running down here.
Stops there, does it?
So I've taken some to look at the varnish,
and then my other samples mainly
concentrate on this brown layer,
which is the layer that seems
to have contracted and pulled
and reticulated across the surface.
What's interesting, I suppose,
from my point of view,
is how that layer relates
to the paint below,
and how... how it sits on the surface,
whether it's separated from the paint
by anything in between.
And if we can see a bit more
about the layer in cross-section,
whether it's got pigment in it.
So those types of things will be
very interesting about a sample, so...
a cross-section sample.
So, given this varnish layer
goes to the border,
- it would be perfectly all right...
- Mm, we could lake...
- look at that border...
- Exactly.
...In a place where there's
a damage, really.
I'm sort of looking up there, in a way,
because, although
there's this large loss here,
that may not actually have that layer...
- Yeah.
- ...reaching that point.
But up there, I think it probably does.
- Do you think? Perhaps...
- That might be worth looking at.
- And I think the comers all have damage...
- Yeah.
...where, in the past,
from framing problems...
- so it might be worth looking up there.
- Mm.
But for the complete sequence of layers,
probably, one's best confined to that...
- that pan, because, as you say...
- I think so. Yeah.
So, really, let's have
a little look up at the top.
OK. Get the microscope on.
Cos there are these damages here.
You could probably be quite safe
taking some here.
As a preliminary, that's the thing
we ought to look at, really.
I think that should do it, actually.
So... that's a very tiny bit,
just from the edge,
of the sort of inner side of the damage.
I don't know, can you even see it, actually'?
- So... So, OK.
- A bit easier for me to do my analysis.
Right, OK, good!
Fantastic. Thanks very much.
So, I'd better just note down
where this comes from, I think.
Oh, I'll put it on this one.
Great, thanks.
Yeah, would we...
Would it be worth it?
I think that's a real...
Actually, we made a reservation
for dinner for six pm. And we're...
It could work out.
It could work out perfectly.
Is it possible to buy the tickets?
All advance sales
are completely sold out.
The only way to get in...
- I think that's OK.
- That's OK?
- Yeah, don't worry.
- OK.
The main challenge that we're
dealing with is that our income,
and what's available to us to spend,
is 3.2 million less next year
than it was this year.
So it's a... it's a significant reduction
in what we have got available
to us to spend.
Now, of course, some of the income we had
this year was exceptional, from Leonardo,
and our costs will go down
as well next year,
so we're spending less on exhibitions
than we were this year.
We're also spending less
on our capital programme next year,
so we're one and a half million down,
because we're spending a million less
on the capital,
and we're spending half a million less
on exhibitions.
Also, this year, we've been able
to afford the compensation payments
to a range of staff who have left,
which was in the region of 700,000.
So all of those costs
won't appear again next year.
But that still leaves us
about a million short.
And the way that we have managed
to break even for next year
is because of the savings
we've made in staff costs.
So that has enabled us to present
a balanced budget.
So the work that we've done this year,
in changes to invigilation arrangements
and in the posts that have been reduced,
has enabled us to balance this budget.
And there's a little bit more detail
about that
later on in the paper,
which I'll come lo.
One of the big risks that we face
over the coming years
is the likelihood of further cuts,
which, although I'm hopeful
that won't be the case during 2012-13,
it's not impossible that there will be
another spending review in 2012-13,
which will reduce our grant in aid
still further
in the following two years,
which can be by as much
as five per cent each year.
And that's just what
they've told us about, so...
- Yeah.
- And things have worsened considerably
since the spending review 18 months ago.
Are we being too cautious
on that front?
It's so... you know, only at 1.7 million
of new income,
when, you know, last couple of years,
they've gone way over that,
and way over our budget figures.
Are we... are we being too careful
with that figure?
It's best to be cautious, because
there are things that we don't know about.
For example, I've only budgeted in here
for one per cent increase in staff costs,
on the basis of the autumn statement.
Now, we don't know what
the payrolls will actually be.
And, in recent years, they've actually been...
provided flexibility
that puts us under pressure
to actually pay more, so there are...
And then there are uncertainties
over energy costs,
which can be very volatile,
and there's the possibility of further cuts.
So I would prefer to budget cautiously
and know that we may well
come in in a better position,
which will provide us with the opportunity
to cover such eventualities if we need to.
Last year, this current year,
we've budgeted for 2.8 million.
And as of December, you were 4.9 million,
not including 1.1 of campaign income.
So you were at six altogether.
Now we're budgeting for 1.7 million.
No one's gonna really
look that closely at this,
but, I mean, it looks like we're spending
53p for every pound we raise.
And what we have in our budget,
is our budget really realistic, then?
It's cautious, but is it realistic,
when we're raising twice
what we put in here, historically?
This is reflecting what we would expect
to bring in. You're right, it's very cautious.
But it... it enables us to balance a budget
that has accommodated the costs
that we consider to be reasonable
to do what we want to do next year.
And it provides us with some flexibility
to cover eventualities that we can't predict,
and also, new projects that might
come up during the course of the year.
So we could include more income,
but then we'd be including
a much bigger contingency,
- which I'm not sure is a brilliant message.
- Yeah.
Here is the decline
of the empire.
Here, something terrible has occurred,
it's the end of Carthage,
their overthrow by Rome.
The men are all being taken off,
prisoners, to Rome.
The women are weeping for them.
Here, the sun is descending,
I think, in the sky.
It's a very dramatic sunset,
with quite a lot of red in it.
Turner himself referred to it
as an ensanguined sunset,
an ensanguined sky,
and here, these rough brush...
marks of the brush, in a dark red,
I think, if you go into the exhibition,
you'll see it is a dark, browny red,
almost, perhaps, like encrusted blood.
So this is a very dramatic view of empire.
So, here, I think Turner really starts to
detach himself from Claude in many ways,
because these are not tranquil
depictions of classical subjects,
these are reflections on history.
And Turner was immensely interested in
and influenced by history.
He also wrote poetry on this subject.
And he can't have avoided, of course,
the events around the painting
of these compositions in 1815,
and this one in 1817.
It was, of course, the very end
of the Napoleonic Wars,
the end of the Napoleonic Empire,
and, by contrast,
the rise of the British Empire.
But Turner took a very long view
of these things.
He was interested
in the rise and fall of empires
over hundreds and thousands of years.
Do come in.
So, welcome. Now, you're looking
at a picture of Frederick Rihel,
painted in 1663.
It came into the National Gallery in 1960.
It had been quite obscured
by lots of accumulated yellow varnishes.
The picture was restored
not that long ago,
but the varnish that was used
was very, very degraded.
And what you are seeing now is a picture
where I've done quite a lot of cleaning.
That means using solvents
to reduce or remove
discoloured varnishes from the paint
over most of the surface area.
There's an area roughly corresponding
to here where I haven't cleaned, so...
Not yet. It's a little hard to see
the differences, I suppose, now.
I can tell you, it looked much worse.
No, I think the interesting thing
about a yellow varnish,
everyone understands
that a yellow varnish makes...
shifts all the colours
toward the warmer end of the spectrum.
You know, blue becomes green,
and I would say a yellow filter...
film over a yellow colour
doesn't change it much at all.
And so you might wonder about a picture
like this, which is mostly warm colours,
you know, white, red, brown, yellow,
about the distortion.
I mean, there are two things I would point
out that have changed quite a lot,
and you can distinguish
some quite important things
that are going on in the picture.
The differences between the yellow and
white impasto, very typical of Rembrandt,
was completely impossible to see.
I mean, the sleeve and the sash
were more or less the same colour.
But the other thing I think...
the other important thing
to think about while we clean pictures
that people often underestimate is the fact
that varnishes not only change colour,
they often go a little bit foggy.
They develop a fine craquelure
and they scatter light.
And it's really, on a microscopic level, like
looking at a shattered windscreen on a car.
There's still a film there,
but you can't really see through it.
And that really changes
the way you see the darker colours.
So they become much lighter,
and so you can't see the distinctions
that are in the painting between, say,
quite dark, very dark and extremely dark.
And that's really important
with a picture like this,
where there's so much going on that's
about distinctions between brown and black.
And really, the illusion of depth and volume
and spatial recession
is the key gain, I think, from this picture.
I think the kind of investigation
I was saying before that we do
as pan of any restoration,
even preliminary to any restoration,
has shown some other interesting things
about this painting.
And I'm gonna take
my one visual aid here.
We... Oops. Sorry about that.
We... Sorry. We normally take...
do X-radiographs of pictures like this
before we start restoration,
so here is a typical X-ray,
where you can see the denser pigments,
the ones with the heavier atomic weights,
show up white,
and luckily, it just so happens
that lead white, white pigment,
is actually one of the heaviest pigments,
so you can see the distribution
of some of these things.
And it tells you very important information
about how a picture is planned.
For example, you know, the sky
is sort of painted around the head.
The head isn't on top of it,
because we don't see that going through.
You learn all kinds of interesting things
that are often very revealing about
a particular painter's way of working,
that are often very revealing about
a particular painter's way of working,
certain mannerisms of how he might
handle impasto, and all the rest.
But the fascinating thing about this picture,
which many of you
may have already worked out,
is that if you turn it sideways,
there's another picture.
And this is very, very unusual
for this kind of picture.
Rembrandt did this a great deal,
something like a quarter of his self-portraits
are recycled and reused,
something like a quarter of his self-portraits
are recycled and reused,
but it's very unusual in the context
of an important commission.
This is not a painting for the marketplace.
This picture was
for a rather important client.
So we can't be absolutely certain
about this underlying painting.
It... I think it's fair to say
it's the same sort of body type and
general characteristics as Frederick Rihel,
it's the same sort of body type and
general characteristics as Frederick Rihel,
so you might say that he may have changed
it in response to this event that happened,
is one theory.
This in itself is quite a bold
and very unusual composition.
There are more or less
no full-length portraits
after his experiences
with the reception of The Night Watch.
So that in itself is unusual,
So that in itself is unusual,
and to have this great empty space
with what look like trees
and the rest coming through
is quite fascinating.
But, for whatever reason,
of which we can't be certain,
this picture, which is probably not entirely
finished, but very far along, was changed.
And then we get into
some interesting things
about what happened when it was changed.
Because he, amazingly enough,
just turned it sideways and started again.
Because he, amazingly enough,
just turned it sideways and started again.
There's no priming
in between the two paintings.
There's a brown quartz, son of sandy
ground, very typical of late Rembrandt,
underneath the first composition,
but he just turned it and started right
on the other canvas, as best we can tell.
And away he went.
And it's interesting to think about that,
And away he went.
And it's interesting to think about that,
because oil paint becomes more
transparent naturally over the centuries,
slightly more transparent, and so that's
why you can often see pentimenti,
changes that were not intended to be seen.
Everyone thinks about, you know,
the horse's legs in Velzquez,
when you see three or four of them,
as he's adjusting it,
when you see three or four of them,
as he's adjusting it,
and you can see them coming through.
And there's a fair bit of that
happening in this picture.
I know the light's a little low in the evening,
but here, for example,
is the hat of the standing man.
And his face is here, so you can see
a little bit of the pink showing through.
And then some odd kind of shapes
coming through the horse's belly.
And they have to do
with the underlying composition.
And they have to do
with the underlying composition.
Now... now we're getting into interesting
problems of restoration history,
because, as I said, what you're seeing now
is a picture that's largely cleaned,
at least in the first sense
of the varnish coming off,
so you can see the kind of damages
that are very typical of a picture...
Actually, this picture's in a pretty good state
for its size and its age.
There are certain losses that, who knows
what the reasons are?
There are certain losses that, who knows
what the reasons are?
But there are other problems
with this picture
that I think result from previous restorers'
confusion about what was going on.
It's important to remember that
before the mid 19th century,
the kind of materials available to restorers
to thin or remove varnishes
was fairly limited,
they were fairly blunt instruments,
you couldn't really have
the distillation of organic solvents
you couldn't really have
the distillation of organic solvents
that you could know their reactions,
and really predict and understand
the chemistry of what was going on.
So there was often issues
with over-cleaning.
And I think what may have happened here
is that, if you think about Rembrandt
and his characteristic accents
of very thick impasto,
that create this wonderful relief,
there was a bit of that going on
from the underlying composition.
There was a bit of that going on
from the underlying composition.
And I imagine if you're cleaning
brown varnish off a brown painting,
and you suddenly start to see
some very exciting impasto,
that you know is Rembrandt,
it was quite exciting.
And we can't be absolutely certain, but,
for example, this ornament on the boot...
I think I've asked you about this
before, haven't I'?
I think I've asked you about this
before, haven't I'?
It's... it's unlike any... He's basically wearing
a kind of fancy dress hunting outfit,
you know, a typical militia kind of party gear,
with a vaguely martial idea.
And so this boot is along those lines too,
and has this odd ornament of a type
that I've never seen anywhere else.
And if you then refer back to this X-ray...
And if you then refer back to this X-ray...
Er, let's see.
The... Let's see, where am I?
Hello... There we are.
So it's this...
This thing on his boot
is actually the top of this kind of...
He's wearing a kind of tabard, jerkin,
kind of hunting, riding...
He's wearing a kind of tabard, jerkin,
kind of hunting, riding...
Funnily enough, he seems to be
in riding gear, the standing figure as well.
Maybe it's just
a son of country squire look.
But that's a detail
of his underlying costume.
Now, it could be that Rembrandt
just fortuitously thought,
"That's rather good, I'll use that."
But it does seem a little odd to me...
...because it's this perfect triangle,
it doesn't really curve,
...because it's this perfect triangle,
it doesn't really curve,
and the whole idea about this picture
is, with a very limited palette, he's...
Thank you. He's created this amazing thing
of the horse coming out on the diagonal.
Even the boot is Misting out
and coming up,
and if you think, the thing should be
probably a metre and a half higher,
you know, it's really coming down,
looking down in the way that the kind of...
Well, equestrian portraits of this type
are supposed to sort of create this
kind of grandeur and authority, if not power.
Are supposed to sort of create this
kind of grandeur and authority, if not power.
Think of the Velzquez Olivares
or something like that.
So this doesn't seem
to square with that to me.
But we'll be looking at that very closely.
I mean, we'll take a look with a microscope
and take some samples and see.
It looks to me like you can see traces of this
kind of mouse-coloured brown-grey paint,
within the impasto of the...
of the boot ornament,
within the impasto of the...
of the boot ornament,
which suggests to me
that this is an earlier, misguided cleaning.
You know, something quite different than,
say, the natural increase in transparency.
There's other evidence of very harsh
cleaning of this picture, anyway.
This kind of broken-up islands
that look a bit like sort of...
I don't know, fractals
or sort of steamy looking thing.
I don't know, fractals
or sort of steamy looking thing.
That's very typical kind of result
of undercutting
with harsh solvents or reagents.
So this picture has suffered a bit,
and I think there was much more
confusion in the lower areas,
where there is sort of
brown on brown on brown.
It's a little confusing if you're not
really aware of what's happening.
In what sense does the work
that you do feed into the exhibition,
In what sense does the work
that you do feed into the exhibition,
beyond the fact that it made
the restoration possible?
In order
to conserve a picture,
you have to understand
the materials of which it's made,
how it's painted, what its condition is,
and, most of all,
how it's going to behave
and, most of all,
how it's going to behave
towards any proposed
conservation treatment.
What that means is that we can only
touch a picture if we can do it safely.
And one of the reasons why pictures
are investigated so carefully
for their physical and chemical state
is for the scientists at the gallery
to be able to advise restorers
is for the scientists at the gallery
to be able to advise restorers
on the kind of conservation treatment
they intend to use on the picture.
And, most of all,
so that we can guarantee
that what is done to a National Gallery
picture is absolutely safe for it.
How has our understanding
of Leonardo changed now,
How has our understanding
of Leonardo changed now,
having got to the end of this exhibition?
Well, there are in fact very few paintings
by Leonardo extant,
that have come down to us.
And so the study,
the intense study of one of them,
the National Gallery's
Virgin of the Rocks,
provided the most complete information
about Leonardo's painting technique.
Provided the most complete information
about Leonardo's painting technique.
We know quite a lot
about the way he drew on paper,
but, before this exhibition, and
before these studies were undertaken,
quite little was known about the actual way
in which Leonardo painted.
And now, we know a great deal more.
And what is it that we know'?
- Well, that's...
- Some of it.
Well, we know every detail of this picture.
Well, we know every detail of this picture.
It's one of the most intensively studied
pictures in the National Gallery collection.
So we know how Leonardo
prepared his panel,
what kind of ground he used.
We know that there were two phases
of drawing on this picture.
In fact, it went through a radical
transformation from an earlier design
In fact, it went through a radical
transformation from an earlier design
to the design that you now see
expressed in paint on the surface.
And what that means, in fact,
because of that transformation of design,
it means this picture's actually very
complicated in its manner of painting.
So we've been able to analyze what we'd
call the layer structure of the picture,
all the different layers of paint
that Leonardo applied
all the different layers of paint
that Leonardo applied
in working toward the first composition,
and then, his second,
finished, composition.
And we also know, in doing that,
a great deal about the materials.
For example, the pigments he used,
the binding media he used, and so on.
So we can provide
a very complete description
of how this work of an was created.
Of how this work of an was created.
Right, that's perfect.
I'm gonna work it down from there, OK?
All right.
What did we not know before?
When you plan the exhibitions,
you think about the different works
that you want to bring together,
you go and look at them, of course,
you go and look at them, of course,
and you're very familiar
with every individual work,
but you never actually see them together,
and that is the magic of any exhibition,
if ii works,
that there is a magic
that all of a sudden happens,
when works start talking to each other.
Sometimes, it doesn't happen, and then
you know that you've failed as a curator.
But when you see that it does happen,
But when you see that it does happen,
there are relationships that, all of a sudden,
start to become more evident,
there are new themes that you discover,
even during the exhibition.
You spend so much time preparing
for an exhibition, writing a catalogue,
thinking about
each individual work in detail,
but it is only when you see them
together in the same room
but it is only when you see them
together in the same room
that things start to become apparent.
So for us, over the last three months, living
with these works together in one space,
we have learned a great deal about how
Leonardo really developed as a painter,
how his students were responding
to him in Milan,
how others did not really respond to him
and just continued
to do what they were doing before,
and just continued
to do what they were doing before,
how he was working with his workshop,
how he collaborated with his students.
There are still very many open questions.
And I think we have also learned
a great deal
about the two versions of
The Virgin of the Rocks.
And still, it is a bit of a puzzle.
An historians have thought about it for,
I believe, over a hundred years
and they've tried to work out
the chronology
and the relationship
between these two paintings,
and the relationship
between these two paintings,
a commission
that is very well documented,
but yet, we don't quite know
why there are two pictures
and who painted them and when.
Originally, it was only men
who were allowed to model.
Early Renaissance artists
were drawing from men only,
and then having to sort of adapt those
drawings for the women in their paintings.
It was definitely a male profession,
because women would be seen as...
Ya. It wasn't the sort of thing
women could be seen to be doing.
Ya. It wasn't the sort of thing
women could be seen to be doing.
But it is always a decision,
when you're making a drawing,
you have to go for it,
because if you skirt around it,
- you get a very strange figure.
- It's there.
It's there. It's just part of everything else.
But you're right, you don't see... in the
gallery, you can't think of any examples.
- Yeah.
- I think it's a very...
- healthy thing to have life drawing.
- Mm.
- Healthy thing to have life drawing.
- Mm.
- Yeah, it's liberating, isn't it?
- I'm 51, it's the first time I've done it.
- If I did it when I was younger...
- Yeah.
- ...It might have changed my outlook.
- It just reminds you that...
- It's a very free experience.
- Exactly.
- To see a body as it is.
- Stripped of everything.
- And it's the safe environment as well.
- Yeah.
- It's a sort of encoded environment.
- No one starts giggling.
Yeah. And that it's just celebrating how...
- just how beautiful it is.
- How we are.
- Just how beautiful it is.
- How we are.
How beautiful we are, yeah.
It's a really good thing to just focus on.
And then it, as you say, it changes your...
Oh, it's blowing up!
Oh, it's blowing up!
Go... No, stay there!
Put the light...
put the lights carefully, yeah?
Why don't you fuck off home and
leave fucking London alone, yeah?
You fucking idiots. Yeah?
You fucking idiots. Yeah?
I suggest
you keep your mouth closed.
It's this question of
what's the water doing?
If you could just nail
what the role of the water is.
We're saying here how he's doing
the thing that we've already talked about.
And that'll be about endings and...
- Erm...
- OK, just help me with one thing...
- Erm...
- OK, just help me with one thing...
- The passing and everything...
- Right, help me with one thing.
- Erm... Cuyp... let's say...
- Yeah. Yeah.
- ...has cows, tree, grass, light.
- Yeah.
If Cuyp's work...
Is Cuyp's work a... a metaphor?
If Cuyp's work...
Is Cuyp's work a... a metaphor?
Or just a cute picture of a cow
and grass?
- No.
- OK. What...
- Nor's this. We're just saying it is.
- Right.
What I'm getting at is, basically,
if that weren't water...
- Mm.
- If that was afield...
How is the water metaphorical,
you're saying?
Yeah, how does it help him
generate metaphor?
- OK...
- Do you see what I mean?
Yeah, but let me do it, then.
I can see what you mean,
I'm now gonna do it.
I can see what you mean,
I'm now gonna do it.
- Are these your glasses? No.
- No.
No, they're mine. They're mine.
They're mine. Thanks.
- OK. Got it.
- OK.
The Fighting Temeraire.
How different the mood would be
- if it weren't for the accent of...
- That's just coming off...
Still set.
The Fighting Temeraire.
How different the mood would be
if it weren't for the accent
of that black buoy.
If it weren't for the accent
of that black buoy.
But how exactly Turner gets
the balance between the two blacks,
the buoy and the tug, with that
precise sense of space between them,
the massive, heavy treatment of the sunset,
and then the subtle glow beneath,
it's very hard to say where light
meets darkness,
it's very hard to say where light
meets darkness,
so subtle is the grade.
How he gets all those things is
the essence of the success of the picture.
Water becomes a metaphor for feeling,
for yearning, the sense of loss,
the depth of emotion
that his subject is about.
A metaphor is a literary thing,
that comes from the mind.
But the painting is made powerful
by what's actually in it.
The precise shapes of those sails,
with the light shining on them.
And then, their repeat
in the sliver of light by the black buoy.
And then, the wonderful,
lively fullness of that sunset,
and the placid shimmer
of the blue cityscape on the horizon.
It's through the doing and the redoing
of all those calling and answering elements
that Turner makes light on the Thames
into such a tremendous metaphor.
OK. That will work.
Bit tricky with the leads.
Go behind you...
Got no handholds this time.
- That's it.
- Yeah.
- There we go, same again.
- OK.
Uh... I can get one. Hang on a sec.
- So... OK.
- 120.
Go all the way up.
OK. Good. Obviously, it's not a problem
because of that shadow.
- That's right.
- And how about the right wing'?
Did, erm...
Would these have adjusted down
on autumn?
- Haven't the levels dropped?
- The new fittings that you've added
will stay at a hundred per cent.
But the other fittings that were in the room
previously will have dropped, possibly.
Maybe what we should do
is close the blinds again,
and set everything back
to the full output level.
- But these should be at a hundred.
- Exactly. Yes.
- Darren!
- Yep'?
Come back to the...
the light on the centre panel.
Can you see enough from up there
to see what's happening'?
- Yep.
- We've got a huge frame shadow.
I don't think there's going to be anything
we can do about that.
It's because the frames are causing it
to sit behind the glass so far back.
- Right.
- But...
Do you have your card handy?
Put your card over the first fixture.
Take it away.
Take it away.
Take it away.
Tweak that one up a wee bit too.
There you go.
OK, move along to the next.
Take it away.
Again. Take it away.
Let me let my eyes adjust a moment.
I forgot my sunglasses this morning.
I always bring my sunglasses up.
- Good.
- Kevin.
So that's 150 at the top.
All right, there, we're getting
more in line now. Good.
Good. Let's check the centre panel again,
because we've added this light.
And now the left... left wing.
- 140.
- That's a shame about the shadow,
- but I'm afraid there's just nothing...
- We've got to live with it.
Not without... backing it uncomfortably.
- Well, there's no more room, is there?
- There really isn't.
Wheelchairs... Let's go and use that...
You've been heroic.
With the exception of the shadow...
it's a lot better
than I thought it was gonna be.
So thank you guys very much.
No problem.
Go ahead, 0-1, over.
I'll take you to an extreme example.
We were discussing natural light,
and how now, no one notices
where the lighting is in the painting.
Like, where's this one lit from?
I think from this side...
Top left. Yeah.
And it's the fact that in the 17th century,
we know people were much more aware.
But when van der Doort
wrote the inventory for Charles I,
he recorded every painting and said
whether it was lit from the left or the right.
Which you just don't even do now.
Cos we're so used to electric light
coming down and doing it all for us,
- we don't realize...
- Right.
...It's important to record how it was.
I assume he did it
cos he was gonna hang the paintings
- according to which way they were lit.
- Yeah.
This was in a big church,
and you could probably find,
actually, which chapel it was in,
and see where the light was
during the day,
how it worked, what was
the optimum time for it to be viewed.
So he probably never imagined that
it would be shown in this kind of context,
with electric lighting and...
No, and that's something
that you have got to address, in a sense.
We don't address it, we say
everything's gonna be designed
- to be seen dead front on, evenly lit.
- Yeah.
I can give you one... Cos we're nearby...
Let's go to the Rubens gallery first.
I'll show you an extreme example of that.
OK, this is exceptional,
cos we know where this painting was.
And it still exists, the actual venue,
it was in Rockox's own house
and it was above his chimney piece.
And chimneys in the 17th century weren't
like these little miserable things we get now.
The height of a chimney
was always about here.
That's the top ledge of it.
So it would have been at least that high.
You've got to imagine...
You're gonna have to look down on the...
You know, the painting's way above you
and you're looking up.
You could actually walk into chimneys
in the 17th century.
And you can gum, the lighting's on the left.
OK? That's where the windows were.
The windows were quite high too.
Now, it has one immediate effect,
which you don't get now,
when you light it evenly,
is the lighting is stronger on the left,
because that's the source
of the natural light.
And therefore,
it picks up her very strongly,
and the five figures
in the doorway look very faint.
And that's worth noticing,
because you wouldn't expect that.
And now, in this light, they look almost
as if they're competing spatially,
and they're very bright, you know,
the guys coming in to arrest him.
But when you actually
put it in its original place,
and we did this a couple of years ago,
switch off all the electric lights, which
always takes a bit of persuading to do,
you'll find the painting clicks and pops,
because those guys
fade back into the distance
and this stuff, it almost looks too harsh.
Because the light's stronger,
it becomes much smoother.
He must have known he was doing that,
cos he's made the contrast.
See, the ground's sneaking
through between the white.
You can see the warm ground.
So he's made it to catch the light
and so this is the focal point.
Would he have painted it in the same light
as it would have been displayed?
- Yes, he probably painted it in situ.
- Mm.
I mean, there's quite a lot of evidence that
artists did go and place paintings in situ.
Rockox was a friend of his.
And if not, he would have touched it up.
And that brings you to a different problem.
What happens... He used tinted varnishes,
which we know existed
from Pliny's time in antiquity.
Cos he would have thought,
"Oh, that bit's now too bright."
- Yes.
- And if we clean them all off,
we think we're very scientific,
we strip all the varnish off,
and so we destroy any of that evidence.
Even when we find original varnish, we tend
to get very excited and take them off.
And so that's something we'll never know,
how much the artist toned it back.
But you can see in this painting...
I think the painting's much finer over here.
If you come here, see,
he's just done zigzags.
- Hasn't bothered...
- Yeah.
To do any real modeling at all.
Cos he knows this is the dark corner.
And he also knows it's above your eyeline.
And so you see these differences...
And he also knows the window
lets in the breeze,
so he's made the candle blow from the left.
Yeah, that's quite...
So you lose all that.
I mean, context is almost kind of crucial
for a painting like this.
And you read a lot of rubbish because
people say it's above a fireplace,
oh, it's the flickering firelight.
If you actually look at a firelight,
it doesn't reflect back.
The thing that light reflects off is floor.
And so, I mean, if this was a palace,
for instance,
and we can try it when we go to a
banqueting hall and switch off all the lights.
You know, how much light do you get
from the windows bouncing off the floor,
and illuminating the ceiling.
And you can test it... The only place I know
it really works well is Palazzo Barberini.
- Anyway, thank you very much.
- Yes.
See you.
See you.
Do you want the light?
Yeah, it's not doing...
Aaah. Not that square. Not that square.
- The Titian cuts across here.
- OK.
- So this would... This would be one wall.
- Yeah. Right, I get it.
So it's... it's 'within that... within that space.
So it's not a very big...
How far do you have
to be from the paintings? What...
- The barrier there.
- Oh, that's just the barrier.
- Yeah.
- And what is the barrier?
- It's...
- It's just a little...
It can be up for grabs, but it would be like...
probably like a rope...
- Yeah.
- Thing.
- OK. I think it's fine, space-wise.
- Yeah?
I don't think it's a problem.
What's the floor like?
Erm... it is concrete,
with wood over the top.
But maybe you could put
some vinyl or something'?
- Well...
- Actually, this is the floor.
- Shall we have a look at the floor?
- Yeah. It's concrete underneath.
It's oak, I think, over concrete.
I mean, I think we just have to look
at the visual aesthetic of the thing
to be in front of the Titians.
I just think, if you put
a floor intervention on there,
it might look a little bit... artificial.
- And actually...
- Yeah.
If it was Ed, you could
ask him if you would dance on that.
- As a question. So...
- Yes. OK.
Or Carlos. It's a question.
Would you mind...
- Dancing on that?
- Yeah, and they would have a point of view,
- and we'd respect it.
- Yeah. OK.
But I think the question
would have to be asked.
I don't think it'd be a problem.
They won't be doing massive...
- They're not...
- ...jumps and leaps...
- Even Carlos.
- Well, not in here, no.
- Yeah, even Carlos! Yeah...
- OK.
But I think, you know,
putting just dance floor...
- Like, a lino's no use.
- It's no use.
You'd have to build a sprung floor.
Then you get a whole other...
- That would be...
- ...dynamic.
If you come to a gallery
to dance in front of the Titians,
- that's the nature of the event.
- OK.
So one has to find what would
be the most appropriate thing.
Woman) OK.
So, good morning, everybody.
And thank you so much
for coming this morning.
'Titian called these works
something special.
He called them poems, "poesie".
And that was the first time
that an artist had referred to his works
in a way comparing himself
to the intellectual capacity of poets,
of poets of the ancient times.
And, of course, Titian's favourite poet,
who he was very familiar with,
and was able to read in the many
wonderful vernacular translations
that were circulating at that time,
was Ovid, who, of course,
was a Roman poet,
and who wrote the wonderful
Ovid told these tales of the gods
from the Greek pantheon
with such a mixture of humour and levity,
and, at the same time,
the tragic elements of the...
of human beings son of tangled up
in the loves and affairs of the gods.
And it was these subjects that
Titian chose to send to Philip.
And I now just want to look at the picture
and see all the different tools
that 'Tahitian has used
to bring the story to life
and to make us really feel
all sons of different, conflicting emotions,
just as Ovid did.
And I think the reason
that Tahitian loved Ovid so much
was that he was tragicomic, yes,
but he was also a poet
that really used words
in a very, very visual way,
whereas Wan was a gainer
who could conjure up poetry visually.
And that's why,
in this famous letter to Philip,
he called these works poems.
And I think that as we sit there
and feel that lyrical quality emanating forth,
that we can understand why that was
and why they're still called
"poesie" to this day.
Today's ten-minute talk
is on Michelangelo's Entombment,
this large painting behind me.
This is quite an extraordinary example
of the National Gallery's collection.
I don't know if any of you were looking at it
and thought that it looked a bit odd.
There are some
really quite unusual features in this painting.
It's perhaps not the most typical way,
for example to represent the subject.
And also, well, I suppose what I most notice
about it is its unfinished stale.
That's quite a curious aspect
of what's going on.
I don't know what you think, but for me,
it's really great to have
mysteries and questions
hanging over paintings
that are 500 years old,
because sometimes,
we tend to look at them
and think because they're 500 years old,
we know everything
there is to know about them.
And, of course, that's not the case,
and every single one of us,
as an individual,
brings a different story
to a painting like this,
and sees something different.
I absolutely do see someone texting
on a mobile phone.
Of course, that's probably not
what everyone else sees at all.
But that's actually what can help
keep these paintings alive for us,
the mystery around
what the artist had intended,
because it's not always
completely obvious.
I'm going to stop there. If you do want
to ask questions, please do.
Something all artists are interested in
is how painting can kind of freeze reality.
So someone who died a long time ago
is still here, looking at us.
This lobster, which existed a long time ago,
which now doesn't exist at all,
of course, is here, preserved.
The amazing preservation, and here it is.
The drinking horn still exists.
It's probably the only thing in the painting,
I imagine, that does still exist.
But it's that idea of something
being ephemeral,
something like a lemon.
And artists were really intrigued
by the idea that they could do that,
preserve something forever, really.
Well, it won't last forever,
but it'll last longer than us,
barring some disaster.
And that's an interesting idea.
I'll tell you a joke about Moses.
He goes up... This is not true.
He goes up onto the mountain,
comes down with the Ten Commandments.
And he gathers the Israelites around him,
and he says, "OK, guys. I've been up there,
I've had a word with Him.
"Do you want the good news
or the bad news?"
And they say, "Good news." He says, "The
good news is, I've got Him down to ten.
"The bad news is
that adultery's still on the list."
Anyway, this painting got vandalized
a couple of months ago.
Some crazy guy came in
with a red aerosol.
Luckily, they got the restoration team
in straightaway,
took it down, took it away,
worked all night.
And I came in the next morning,
and it was...
- Oh, it was already up?
- Yeah.
It was back up there, cleaned up, perfect.
Sadly, these things happen
from time to time.
But you just have to learn to live with it.
Now, let me show you the last Claude,
because there's a nice little story
attached to this one.
To come back to that research
on Watteau was fundamental.
Bringing the works together
was also an important element.
Now we will see from
what will come out of the...
- The copy...
- Of the study of the partition.
I have ordered a big electronic copy
of the partition,
and we have sent it to William Christie,
who believes -
and I think all the scholars believe -
that Watteau represented very accurately
every movement, musical movement,
- so it's not...
- Well, we've consulted...
- Yeah.
- ...a number of musicologists ourselves.
- Yeah.
- And the consensus now is
- that that is not a real...
- A real partition.
- It's not a real piece of music.
- OK.
Probably an energetic restorer put it in!
Well, yeah, whatever.
I mean, I haven't compared
the music in the painting
- with the music in the print line by line.
- I was going to ask.
That is something I must do.
But I am told that it's not a guitar piece,
because you would expect
a number of chords.
- OK.
- It's not a singing piece,
cos there are no words, other than there's
what appear to be the remains of a title.
- Yes.
- We can't actually make out what that is.
It's impossible to read,
and we've looked at that quite carefully.
- Yeah.
- Er... So if it's not a guitar piece,
and it's not a singing pan,
I mean, what is it?
We conclude that it might be...
the only possibility
is that it is music for the guitar
and that she is rather awkwardly
holding it like this,
so he can actually see what he's playing,
but, in fact, he's not playing, so...
- At that particular...
- So that was another...
So he's just "according" his guitar,
do you think?
- Because we...
- Tuning, yeah.
- Tuning, sorry.
- You mean tuning, yeah.
- Or is he playing, because...
- Yeah, but...
He could be... I don't know,
he could be about to, you know, tap it, or...
- Yeah.
- And on this,
there is some written documents, now,
from the different musicologist who did...
- I've got... I've got letters or emails.
- Correspondence.
- That could be... Can we...
- Yes, yes.
That's incorporated
into a draft catalogue entry
- which I wrote last year.
- OK.
OK. That we can...
We could use this information?
- You could use this information.
- Because it would be interesting
to see who are these musicologists,
and seeing with Bill...
as I would say he's more a musician
than a musicologist,
- I would say.
- Yeah.
The drawings I saw in Berlin,
there, we discovered that we...
with Bill, that we know which music
is performed at a place,
and it's so complex
in the positions on the instrument
that he must have known music.
Because that's still also an element
that was not clear.
- Yes.
- In these drawings,
it cannot be otherwise
than he knows how to play,
and knowing music.
- And that's also an element.
- That's an important thing to prove.
Yes. Yes. That's also the element
of the drawings
which are in the Kupferstichkabinett
by Dr Altcappenberg, in Berlin.
The... the...
The drawings we... I saw there last week.
And so, from the work
that was done by Bill,
he knows now that in the... in the...
in the different drawings,
there's one of an oboe,
then another one of a viola da gamba,
and there's no scores there.
There's only drawings of positions.
- So you have the...
- They're convincing, yeah.
Yes. And also how the... the complexity of...
We've several musicians, also, from the
Berliner Philharmoniker who came to see,
and everyone is convinced
you cannot draw if you don't know music.
- Yeah.
- It's like we would say...
In photography, it's like the... in film,
to make just that moment.
Yes. Mm. No, I think everybody accepts
that Watteau knew musicians,
and he knew his musical instruments.
I mean, that represents the type...
But it's clear that he was knowing music?
That's not clear for me.
Well, it's not clear that he actually
plays music himself.
- Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
- No.
Which is a different thing.
But that represents a guitar
of a type that was being made
in Paris around 1700.
- Yeah.
- I mean, you know, that's pretty accurate.
Did I say the black's
been strengthened or not?
- Cos black's the most soluble paint.
- I don't know.
She's missing a few fingernails,
which makes you wonder,
did they also take off a few notes?
You've got to be very careful interpreting
what is now there
- as musical notes.
- OK.
- Yeah.
- Anyway... it's good to hear the case.
- Yeah.
- You were a surprise...
And good luck with your exhibition,
whatever happens.
- Danke, danke.
- Thank you.
She's just looking too...
Well, I think - I know I'm biased -
I think its the most beautiful room
in the gallery.
- What are you going to say?
- Look at that, the Subleyras.
- Yeah.
- I mean, that's...
Have a look.
- That touch, that very delicate...
- Yeah, delicate touch.
...touch, you know, she can't believe...
She's totally in love
with this shepherd boy.
You know, she just can't believe
how beautiful he is.
And she's got to just touch him
- to make sure that he's real.
- That he's real.
And the dogs! That dog is amazing.
- Anyway.
- Yeah. Well, I'm glad...
- I mustn't keep you.
- That's...
It's lovely to be back.
Well, you must come
and see us more often.
And in the middle
of the 16th century,
we have something called the
Counter-Reformation taking place
in Italy, in response
to the challenge of Luther,
as he challenges the Catholic Church.
And what he... one of the things that comes
into question is the value of images.
Are images dangerous, because they are
likely to be understood as replicants of God
or replicants of figures from the Bible?
Or are they important
as a way into understanding
the word of God as it was written?
So this is a debate that's taking place,
and what happens in Italy
is there is a proliferation of images.
In other words, the response
is to make more images,
and to make them
as emotional as possible,
so that you feel a sense within yourself
of what is... what is happening.
And the message is one of fraternal love.
It's a universal message,
and it's something
that we can all relate to.
And the idea is that you go away
from the experience of viewing
feeling more love
towards your fellow man.
I gum
all I would like to point out here
is that, having seen that issue
with the blanched ground downstairs,
and how that disrupted that space,
I think you might have your eye in enough
to start to recognize it here.
I mean, the more dramatic examples
are something like this,
where you've got the parts of the table.
Again, this isn't him correcting something,
but the actual paint he's subsequently
applied on top of the ground
is very close in colour
to what that would have been.
He certainly didn't intend
a great blotchy space.
And again, we have more and more
empirical evidence about that,
beyond just looking at the material itself.
This rather pale thing is absolutely...
it's a strong shadow cast from her arm.
You see it, the way it goes up the side
of the table and makes a sharp angle.
It's the cast shadow of the arm falling.
And so, obviously,
that must be a darker value than this.
And, see, that gets to the core
of what I was saying downstairs
about when the pigment change
is so localized
that it's really quite disruptive
to understanding what the thing is.
That is a different kind of argument
about what you might do as a restorer
to correct that, or at least to reduce
the effects of... problematic effects.
One of the most fundamental issues...
Well, I wouldn't say problematic,
but it's certainly an open question
where this picture is concerned,
and it has to do with the basic construction
of the space, where the wall is,
is that a window'?
Is it a picture of a picture?
All those kinds of issues.
Anyway, the evidence provided
by the ground and the shadows
suggests that this table
is right up against the wall.
You have a painted shadow
here in black paint
of the fish's head against the wall,
which tells you that it's quite close,
and the fact that that's cast there,
I think is also pretty important in...
in fixing where that thing sits in space.
Again, this kind of ground colour here,
and then mixed with a bit of white,
an applied shadow,
it all kind of starts to make sense.
This has still got quite a bit of retouching
that needs to be done.
And you can see the brush wipings here
that are partially covered in
ground-coloured paint by Velzquez,
and have been exposed by old cleanings,
and you have the basic ground colour,
a darker shadow,
and what would have probably been
an even darker one into the table.
It all starts to make sense
if you start to substitute this colour.
But I think you... I hope you might agree
that this, then, is pretty fundamental
to understanding what's going on.
Similarly, this area of the old woman's chin,
it sort of comes forward, now,
in a sort of Cubist way,
and that's, again,
because of blanched ground.
It should be much darker.
So if you start to, wherever you see this,
substitute a darker value,
I think all kinds of things
start falling into place
about the way the elements are modeled,
and where they are
in relation to one another.
And it's such a limited palette
and such an austere kind of image,
I think these issues
are really pretty fundamental
to your reading
and understanding of the picture.
And what he's trying to do.
So that's why we might take
a slightly different view
about how to approach its retouching.
Everything that Larry is now doing
in terms of retouching
is on top of a layer of varnish.
That, once it's cleaned, it's varnished,
and then Larry works on top of the varnish,
so that all the work that he does,
the tens, if not hundreds of hours
that goes into restoring a picture,
the next time it's cleaned, it comes right off.
The whole... the basic principle
of modern conservation
is that anything that we do
should be reversible.
That the next generation
can reverse it very easily.
Months or years of work
is gone in 15 minutes.
That's... that's OK.
It... it gets to the core of how you feel
about whether this is a document
or a kind of... an archaeological thing,
or whether you want to restore it
as an image you read.
And how confident you are
in what you're doing.
It's not just because I... Dawson
and I scratch our heads and think,
'Wouldn't it be lovely
if that was this or that?"
It's based on an understanding
of the material, historical sources,
and comparative images, and evidence,
as I showed you downstairs,
of Velzquez himself mixing colours
to match the ground that he used.
So it's important to remember that, too.
There are really good reasons
for the decisions we take
in matters like this.
I just wanna also make sure that you
understand what Larry has been saying
about him using the ground colour
in the modeling.
That... that it was the original ground colour,
that he trusted,
and he thought, "Oh, that looks
just right in that shadow."
He doesn't cover it.
And this isn't just Velzquez.
There are lots of painters
who use ground colour in modeling
as a kind of mid-tone sometimes.
Caravaggio does it, for instance.
It's not at all uncommon.
The intent is to restore the thing
as a work of art that you read.
At the end of the process, that wall
should more or less carry on across,
going from light to dark in a way
that I hope you won't be able to see.
I don't want to leave the impression
that we believe
that our retouchings and restorations
make the picture look as it did.
You know, we're just trying to help you
understand what it is.
And maybe what it was, but not...
It's... it's a balancing act, but it's...
A restoration is not a... not a renewal.
No. Of course, they're physical objects
made of organic materials.
And the second that they're finished,
they start to age.
And that's... that's just that.
We haven't really talked
about the meaning of this.
It naturally invites some consideration
of the relationship of religion
to contemporary life.
The two women in the foreground are
clearly figures from contemporary life.
And one has to... has to wonder.
What's this really about?
Are they simply sewing people,
and the meal is going
to go through the hatch
and be sewed in the other room?
Or do they, in some way, represent
a modern-day Mary and Martha?
Do you remember the story?
Christ comes to visit Mary and Martha,
and Mary sits attentively at Christ's feet,
and listens to his teaching,
while Martha makes herself very busy
going about all the chem,
and then comes to complain
that she's been left to do everything
and Mary isn't helping.
And Christ chides her and says...
says, "Martha, Martha, you're
concerned about so many things.
"But Mary's really taken the better path in...
"in allowing time
for her spiritual development."
And so we have to ask ourselves,
is this...
is this Martha and Mary in the foreground,
in contemporary guise?
With the old woman chiding,
that gesture, saying, "Hurry up."
Or is it maybe the worker preparing
the garlic mayonnaise,
so busy at work,
and the older, wiser woman reminding
her to allow time for her spiritual life?
There are the great words used often
in relation to this painting
of St Teresa of Avila.
"The Lord walks
even among the kitchen pots,
"helping you in matters
spiritual and material."
We have to go over
to conservation studio number two.
Keep it up! Back to base!
I'm no longer visiting,
because in fact I have the...
Moved on from
the great and the good...
What a treat to be here,
without lots and lots of people,
which I suppose it's going to attract.
Yes, it must be a great attraction.
No, I'll take this.
Good to see you.
What, don't we get any wine?
We're guests.
It is very fun. I'm in London now.
John is around for a couple of weeks.
Well, I'm here for...
Lovely. Very good.
I can't believe we've never been here before.
Or I haven't.
I think my friend...
Ebony frames are,
of course, interesting.
World first. I want to explain where
I think the ripple moulding comes from.
These mouldings are called ripple
mouldings. This wave... wave pattern.
They're very interesting. They're really
the only ornament, frame ornament
that does not ultimately
come from antiquity.
It is sort of a non-classical ornament.
And I think it came about
because of the way the ebony is...
is... is... worked with.
Because, when you work with ebony,
it... it is not carved or planed
like other woods.
It is scraped with a scraper
at right angles to the wood.
Something like this, a metal...
a metal scraper that is...
scraped across the piece of wood
and lowered incrementally.
But the process of scraping is very...
the force is quite... is quite...
It is... the wood is very hard, and it's...
it is... it's quite difficult.
You only scrape a tiny bit off each time.
And in the process, there...
The whole apparatus
that you use tends to vibrate
and what you have is...
is a ripple effect on the straight moulding.
This was just done straight, and...
I'm not sure whether
you can see it in the light,
but you can certainly feel it.
There is a... a ripple that is voluntary.
That's a ripple that just happens
when you try to scrape it straight,
and then you have to sand it out
and straighten it out.
But I think that this type of ripple,
out of this accidental ripple...
And then this is done...
run over a track that goes up and down.
The knife goes up and down or the wood
goes up and down as it's scraped along.
And normally, I'm against illuminating
the way frames are made,
because it somehow
doesn't seem important.
If... if you go to a Rembrandt exhibition,
nobody's going to tell you
how the canvas is prepared
and the paints are... are made,
and all this technical bits.
But I find it interesting
with the ebony frame,
that I think it is... it is an accidental...
and a... and a discovery
from the making of the frame.
Yes, lovely.
Oh, it's 8:45 already.
There's plenty of room for you all now.
And it's time for me to begin.
I'm talking about the strangely named
Triumph of Pan.
Poussin has reconstructed these really
recondite elements of ancient art.
That... that is one explanation for his...
his way of painting.
He may have thought
that painting in antiquity
was closer to sculpture,
precisely because
so much more sculpture had survived,
and he... he could only reconstruct
ancient painting in that way.
But it's curious...
So many of the things that attract him
about the ancient world
which he puts into this
strange, strange painting
are actually unnaturalistic.
So, he knows, for example,
that ancient statues of Pan,
as indeed is the case of figures in worship,
their faces were actually coated
with special substances
to make them seem more animated,
or just as a type of offering.
So the red colour,
it's very, very extraordinary.
But what makes it extraordinary, of course,
is actually that the rest of the sculpture
appears to be made of polished brass.
It means that Poussin's actually thought,
"Maybe, in antiquity,
"they did not patinate their sculptures."
And he was very, very learned
and in touch with all the most erudite
students of antiquity in his day.
Some of these things that I've been
mentioning aren't actually mentioned, even,
by modem art historical commentators
on this painting,
but they would be of great interest to...
and these subjects are of great interest,
the colouring of fem and so on,
to archaeologists today.
But I don't think it's quite adequate
as an explanation of this picture,
that Poussin has just become
that much more obsessed by the antique.
I think the clue
to the stylistic character of this work
lies in the fact that Poussin must have
known that he was painting pictures
which would hang beside
old paintings by Mantegna.
Mantegna and Poussin
are the two European artists
who are most interested in trying
to put something sculptural into painting.
And this becomes particularly interesting
in the context of this so-called "paregone",
the contest between the arts.
Tedious to us to try and work out whether
painting or sculpture is the greatest art.
But within that,
the structure of that argument,
people fought very intelligently about what
could painting do that sculpture couldn't do.
And you could always say of sculpture
that movement is frozen,
that space can't really be represented.
How odd, to find a painter
who's actually deliberately imitating
those precise qualities in sculpture
in their painting.
It's a kind of reversal of what
everyone else was doing.
And I think it's a reversal which he's done
for people who think about art
in a very, very sophisticated way,
people who like turning on its head
the priorities and values of other people,
as well as the people
who are not only learned,
but like to exhibit their learning.
In short, this picture is very, very elitist.
Making it accessible is quite hard work.
It's worth doing, of course.
But it's really hard work,
cos it was painted, I think,
not just as a subject which was
for very, very learned people,
who liked to be more learned
than other people, and show it,
but also, its style is painted
for an extremely sophisticated
and very... probably very small public.
I'm really thrilled we have it
in the National Gallery.
I personally don't know
whether I like it or not.
But I certainly think it's one of the most
fascinating paintings in the National Gallery.
It's very, very extraordinary.
Thank you very much.
Part of the appeal
of Vermeers paintings,
and other paintings
like them in the 17th century,
is that they create an ideal world,
an ideal image that is seductive,
and absolutely pleasant to look at.
You're drawn into the beauty of it.
I think it's not just us in the 21st century
that the painting has that impact on.
I think it was exactly the same
in the 17th century.
Pan of that, of course,
is in the way in which Vermeer paints.
He has an absolutely unique style
that somehow finds a balance
between realism and abstraction.
From a distance, even a short distance,
you're struck by how realistic this is.
You think, "Oh, wow" you know,
"That woman, I wanna step closer
and get to know her."
But as you get closer,
just like Impressionist paintings,
that sense of realism
dissolves into abstraction,
and it remains forever elusive,
again, creating a barrier
between our world
and this ideal world
represented in the paintings.
I think that is intentional
on Vermeer's part,
to emphasize and to maintain
the perfection
of the world that he's created.
It's also,
as so many of Vermeer's paintings,
a very ambiguous painting.
Because of the woman's restraint,
because of the absolute regularity
and almost austerity of the composition,
it's hard to tell exactly
what the painting is about,
what might be going on in this painting.
Art historians can go on endlessly
about the symbolism
of the painting in the background,
and, you know, the angle of this
and the juxtaposition of that.
But how do we know that that's entirely
what Vermeer had in mind'?
And, of course, you know,
as any other an historian,
I've written, you know,
"This means this, this means that,"
but there's always an element of ambiguity,
a question there
that I firmly believe is absolutely intentional
on the part of the best artists,
because it's designed to keep you intrigued,
to keep you coming back,
to keep your attention on this painting,
and each time you come to the painting,
depending on your mood,
who else is in the room,
what you had for lunch,
it's going to look slightly different,
it's going to appeal to you,
you're going to engage with it
in an entirely different way.
It's a very, very interesting
relationship between his painting technique
and the things that we value and prize
about Caravaggio.
The immediacy of the effect of the models,
the dramatic lighting,
a lot of the things
he does in his working practice
as well as the application of paint,
are all kind of inextricably bound
with what we treasure in them.
So I'll start off with
Boy Bitten by a Lizard.
The main thing I'd like
to convey about this picture
is to get you to understand a little bit about
how he's using his priming, his ground,
that's the layer he puts on the canvas
before he starts painting the figure.
In this case, it's a kind of rich
kind of bricky red-brown colour.
This is something that he's exploiting, then,
in the subsequent build-up of the paint.
The brown colour is left exposed,
quite deliberately,
to help him evolve
the modeling of the flesh tones.
Bellori, an important critic writing
in the 1670s,
was already writing about this,
how he leaves the ground exposed
to give the middle colours
of the flesh painting.
And you can see that in the shadow
and sort of around the breast,
in the shadowed part of the cheek,
the shadowed part of the hands,
and quite a lot of the drapery painting
is essentially the ground colour.
And it's a very economical
way of proceeding,
because once you establish the figure,
you use the ground,
you can put a very thin, translucent
brown colour to push the shadows back,
and then,
when you build the lighter colours up,
when you're mixing the light coloured paint
and putting it on top of a darker ground,
it gets very opaque very quickly.
And so it's extremely economical.
I mean, the dark grounds are things
that were evolved
and used more and more frequently in Italy
throughout the 16th century,
particularly in north Italy,
where he was formed.
And I think, however, that he managed
to exploit this technique
and kind of make it his own
and bend it toward his purposes
in a very characteristic way.
We, with Renaissance paintings,
have the ability, generally,
to look with infrared reflectography
and see evidence of initial drawing.
And that's based on, say,
a carbon-containing charcoal or something,
drawn on top of a light ground,
and so you... the contrast is something
we can pick up with infrared.
Now, with these pictures, traditionally,
with the dark ground,
and whatever kind of paint
that might have been used to draw,
you really don't see anything
with that technique.
So it's always been a great mystery
about Caravaggio.
Did he draw'? And in what sense
did he do preparatory drawing?
Because we don't have, really,
drawings on paper.
He's playing a bit of a game with you about,
you know, what skill is and what craft is
and how speedy and confident he was.
There's a kind of... seemingly,
a taste or a desire to look,
to have that kind of sprezzatura,
the brio, the ability to do something,
to knock it off very confidently.
But, like many things in Caravaggio,
what may seem...
what is indeed revolutionary
is still grounded in a very careful
and considered use of his materials,
and somebody who always, whatever
the sordid details of his personal life,
somebody who always was in really
fantastic control of his materials
and understanding
of how the paint worked.
So I think that's the thing
I'd like to leave with you.
What's going on, here?
What's happened in my absence?
In your absence.
Well, we've done a bit of a rehang,
as you can tell.
Yeah, definitely.
It's changed a lot, actually.
I think there's only two or three pictures
that haven't actually moved.
Yeah, but I mean, the...
- Yeah.
- We basically had to do it
to find a spot
for The Virgin of the Rocks.
- Yeah.
- And here it is, now.
And what do you think?
I was thinking
that it looks strange, actually.
That's changed a lot from before.
First reaction is something that...
I think it's visual. No? Isn't it? It is, er...
- Well, it's interest...
- It's another...
another world of colour,
you know what I mean?
It's a completely different world.
We saw it downstairs in the exhibition,
how nicely it worked with the other,
later Milanese pictures,
and that the composition
may be Florentine,
but the whole painting is Milanese.
Ah... Ya,
there is a theoretical issue,
that, as you said, it's a Milanese painting,
but also visually, I think that is
something a little bit puzzling, isn't it?
You know, also, because, even
if the drawing probably is Florentine...
Well, the idea, the composition
is Florentine.
And, of course, you know...
and now you have...
It... it's a difficult picture
to find a place for, actually...
- Yeah.
- ...In the gallery,
- And there is an argument to be made...
- Yeah.
And I think, you know, in a way it works,
and you show him, you know,
together with Verrocchio, with his teacher,
and, you know, side by side...
But, yeah...
- Yeah.
- It doesn't sing as nicely.
- No.
- It did sing downstairs.
The only things...
Well, the constructive thing, how...
how Leonardo... evolution...
- Yeah, how...
- completely different.
How it moves into a different direction.
If you put in relation
with his old Florentine friends...
- Yeah. Yeah.
- ...that is quite a struggle, but actually,
is a contrast, the way of seeing the hang,
the display of our own, that is...
I think it's quite strange.
But there's something quite nice
about this being situated in the comer,
because you enter the Sainsbury Wing,
and you kind of meander
throughout the rooms,
and you discover the Leonardo
in the comer,
almost as if you discovered
a little kind of grouping in the cave...
- Which I think is quite nice.
- Mm.
One receiving, over.
In 'Titian's letter, he says,
"I am painting...
"Diana Surprised by Actaeon,
"and... and Actaeon..."
The word he um is "lacerated",
by his own hounds.
So originally, these two pictures
would have been the pair
that he wanted to send to King Philip.
This painting remains in Titian's studio,
it was never finished by Tahitian,
and is bought from his studio
after his death.
So he decides not to do this,
and instead, he produces...
- This one.
- Diana and Callisto as the pair.
- So he has two...
- Completely different.
Yes, different, but they both show Diana
as taking vengeance on... on a mortal,
on a...
And the mom... and also, the moment of...
they're kind of opposite pictures,
because here, the pregnant nymph
Callisto is being exposed,
and Diana realizes she's pregnant.
Here, it's Diana who's being exposed
and who is... by Actaeon.
Here, there is a female victim of Diana,
and here, a male victim.
They probably hung opposite each other,
so we've tried to suggest that
by putting them a bit differently.
But we also want people
to see this with that.
- This picture we acquired 25 years ago.
- From?
From Lord Harewood.
It was in England?
In England. Earl Harewood
had the painting from Lord Darnley,
who... whose great-great-great-grandfather
purchased it at the Orleans sale.
How it got to the Orleans collection,
it got to the Orleans collection because...
it was one of the pictures that...
The Queen of Sweden acquired it
on her way to Rome...
I think. Yes.
That's... that's the best explanation.
And then, these pictures
were actually presented from...
by the Spanish crown to,
I think, a French ambassador,
who... who was acquiring them
for the Regent of France,
who was, of course,
a very, very great art collector.
Painted in the 1550s,
sent to Spain, stay in Spain until...
A couple of hundred years.
And then go to France,
into a semi-royal collection
of the Duc d'Orleans.
And then to England.
I'm very fond of the Duc d Orleans, and...
- Well, he was a good guy.
- Yeah.
He was also, you know, a...
he was an amateur cook.
- Yeah?
- You know, he loved...
he was one of the first
very, very princely or noble people
who is known to have
liked to do his own cooking
- and experiment with cooking.
- I didn't know that.
What he did after dinner
is a different matter.
- Yes, a common habit.
- But I think it's nice he was a cook.
Yeah. Anyway. But he loved... Also, we know
he liked arranging his own paintings.
- OK.
- But what amazes me about him
is that when he got the great collection
of the Queen of Sweden, from Rome,
he took ten or 15 years to negotiate.
He then hung...
He... he wanted to see the paintings...
Obviously, he would have new,
French frames made for them.
Of course, cos everyone would do that.
But before he had the frames made,
he wanted to see them in the frames
which that...
"cette grande Princesse",
the Queen of Sweden, had seen them in.
And I think that's fantastic.
Right, OK.
I'm going to read a poem
called Callisto's Song.
Callisto was the nymph
who was then turned into a bear,
who ended her life flung up
into the heavens as a constellation.
She became the Great Bear.
So, in order to write her poem in her voice,
I had to imagine
how a constellation might sound.
So on the page, visually,
I've translated her noise,
her song as a star,
into every word being
divided by an asterisk.
So it looks like a constellation.
In my head,
I feel if I could read it as I hear her,
there would be kind of white noise,
star... crunching, crackling noises
between every word.
But I can't really do that, so probably
the most you'll hear is a little syncopation.
Callisto's Song.
stars stars stars stars
looking down on myself then
a colorito woman yes
that was me
in my red sandals
the great outdoors curtained
golden embroidered
and heatshimmer
above blue mountains
nothing vertical
not even the plinth
and no speech no names then
just a cry
as the busy body nymphs
stripped me
because we all had
rounded bellies then
but nine months gone so
my navel curved like a gash
and o so noticeable among
all the diagonals
and everyone
looking a 'different' way
looking a lot
especially the goddess
her arrow-arm pointing
bow-mouth strung
and dogs crouched because
they sensed consequences
and gods arriving and doing
what gods do upstairs
and the artist's finger loaded
and the paint alive
alive with stars
stars stars stars stars
So can we start off by talking about the...
the painting?
Diana's such a powerful... figure.
Oh, she's female...
but full of fire and strength.
She's very intriguing.
Her reaction to Callisto is fascinating,
because... because Diana is, of course,
the goddess of chastity.
She's actually faced with another female
at the kind of maximum
moment of fecundity.
So there's a tension
and a kind of fury in Diana
that you feel goes beyond
anything that Callisto's done.
Because, after all, in... in a sense,
Callisto's been raped.
And now, in this revelation,
she's raped again,
by the pointing finger.
So... it's...
I think it's the dynamic of these different
sides of femaleness, of womanhood,
that come through in the story
as Titian tells it.
If you like, every poem is a kind of...
crude translation of something else.
Our poems... our poems never,
never reach what we want them to.
You know, we're always, in a way,
hampered by language.
And that's what's wonderful.
Yeats talks about
the fascination of what's difficult.
And the fact that language isn't perfect,
the fact that when I say the word "hand",
it is not my hand,
is really beautiful and poignant to me,
so in a... in a way, all of my poems
are efforts to translate something else.
And they never quite do.
But... but the gap is...
the meaning is all in the gaps.
And I... I felt that with Callisto's Song,
that I'd set myself, you know,
not just a gap,
but, you know, several light years
to straddle
between what she might sing
and how I might transcribe it.