Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Postcard from Oxford

Sketch of The Virgin and Child by Lorenzo di Credi (Florence c1457-1536) at the Ashmolean Museum Oxford 25.08.08.

We enjoyed a flying visit to Oxford over the weekend. I've only been there once before and that was about 20 years ago so it was all new to me and I was amazed at how much bigger it is than Cambridge (where I have been a lot). On Monday morning we had coffee and read the papers at a pleasant café and then when we'd had enough caffeine we paid a visit to the *Ashmolean Museum.

Fortunately they are refurbishing the museum so that immediately cut down the number of exhibits to look at, because let's face it, there's always too much information to take in at a good museum. Now, I am not particularly religious but I was very taken with the image of The Virgin and child I sketched above. I quite like the finished result but in my version the baby Jesus does look like a fat old man. In my defence in the original he has got a remarkable amount of hair, with a little quiff, for a newborn and a very fat face with a knowing expression.

In another gallery there were a number of busts of various Popes with grumpy faces all crafted by the same artist. I didn't take a note of his name but he was fond of drapery and managed to give a very convincing impression of silk robes fastened with delicate buttons all finished off with silken tassels and they were all fashioned out of marble. Amazing!

Before I go I must tell you about two very famous works of art. One is by Paolo Uccello (c1396-1475) and is called The Hunt in the Forest. He artfully employed perspective in this and composed it very carefully (which is something I could usefully learn from) and the other one is by Piero di Cosimo (1461-1522) and is called The Forest Fire. You can see small versions of the paintings here.

* You might like to know that they have lockers in the basement which they only open at the end of the day so you could for a modest price (not that I would ever dream of recommending it to you) stash your stuff there and pick it up later in the day when you finished sightseeing.

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