Monday, December 01, 2014

Late Rembrandt

Last Friday to Trafalgar Square, to meet up with my younger sister and take in the Rembrandt exhibition.  Arriving early, my husband and I popped into the Portrait Gallery to look at Tudor portraits, and specifically the picture of Thomas Cromwell referred to by Hilary Mantel in "Wolf Hall."    After several failed attempts to get started on this novel, which I now think is a masterpiece, I made it past the confusing opening and enjoyed its wonderfully rich texture.  In the second volume, Mantel is much clearer as to exactly who is speaking at any particular point and this simple technique helps a lot. 

Standing in front of what is in fact a copy of the Holbein portrait, I related the story Mantel tells of how Cromwell felt it made him look like a murderer and said so to his son - who paused, then asked him "Did you not know?"  I recounted the story, then turned -  to find a total stranger standing at my shoulder, just where I had thought my husband to be!  So now I have turned into the sort of confused old person who rambles on to bystanders in galleries.

Trafalgar Square is completely transformed by the pedestrianisation of the section outside the National Gallery. There was a holiday atmosphere, buskers, bagpipers, mime artists and all.

Within, the Rembrandt exhibition was the usual victim of its own success.  Entering on a timed ticket we found the crowd already twenty deep.  Those telling self-portraits and the bigger pieces full of movement and energy were still impressive even with the overcrowding, but the tiny etchings were difficult to appreciate in this setting.  It appears that the gallery allow half an hour for each visit, and this is nowhere near enough. 

On the knitting front, I am making slow progress on the Pierowall pullover, largely because it is too complex to knit on while doing something else, such as watching tv.  This, on the other hand, has been ideal.  It is a seed stitch cowl, using two balls of Noro Silk Garden.  I used the first ball as it came, but used the second from the middle out.  This reversed the colour sequence.  Not all balls of Noro are identical, but these two were.



MaureenTakoma said...

How I wish I lived in the UK so to make the travels you do. I'm in my middle 50s and have had a couple of those experiences of rambling on about something only to turn and find it is to a complete stranger. When we visit London, the Tudor portraits are one of the required stops.

Love your quick cowl as a companion to the more complicated project.

Mary Lou said...

I was just in London for a few days, and am sorry I didn't have time to see the Tudor portraits. I could give George a miss. I was a rather far into Wolf Hall before I realized I was mixing up Thomas Cromwell and Oliver Cromwell. Shocking admission for a history major, but there you are. Once I got my brain straight, it helped. I am looking forward to book 3.