Friday, August 18, 2006

National Gallery of Scotland

Today I travelled through to Edinburgh. It was my last opportunity to see an exhibition of Rembrandt etchings.

Alas, there were no postcards of any of these etchings in the gallery shop. I've experienced this disappointment with gallery shops before - I can never get a postcard print of the picture that caught my imagination. Perhaps I've just got a weird imagination compared to Joe Public.

Galleries are great! Lots of families, with parents totally unable to answer questions from kids: 'Mummy, who's that?' 'Lu..ther. Luther.' (The picture was strange, but it depicted Luther's breakthrough on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I'd say more, but there was no postcard available...) Lots of people saying really silly things: 'I've seen that before somewhere... Aye, I've definitely seen that somewhere before.' (This time, we're talking about Raeburn's 'Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch' - the single most famous Scottish picture, ever, perhaps?)

One highlight today was this: The Trinity Altar Piece by Hugo van der Goes. I'd never seen it before. First thing I thought was: who's that bloke like Jesus holding the body of Jesus? My little head couldn't work it out until I read the title of the work.

No matter how you understand and apply the first two or three commandments, you've got to marvel at the theological understanding behind this image. Almost as much as you've got to marvel at the realism of Rembrandt's biblical etchings and paintings. I don't remember seeing an artisic representation of God the Father that portrayed his likeness to the Son. Or, should that not be the other way about? Therein lies the problem of such art, and the wonder of the triune nature of God.


Pauline said...

I'm impressed Dave - 'art critic' to add to your list of crudentials.

C G said...

Reaburn DIDN'T paint the skating minister - it's just been revealed it was some French dude!

C G said...

Actually, that may not be unchallengable:

Attribution controversy
In March 2005, a curator from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery suggested that the painting was by the French artist Henri-Pierre Danloux, rather than Sir Henry Raeburn. Once this information was had been brought to the attention of the Gallery, the label on the painting was altered to read "Recent research has suggested that the picture was actually Henri-Pierre Danloux." Since this time, many people have debated the idea of this. It has been argued that Danloux was in the Edinburgh during the 1790s, which happens to be the time period when The Skating Minister was created. Supposedly the canvas and scale of the painting appears to be that of a French painter, although Raeburn critics argue otherwise. Despite continuing controversy about its attribution, The Skating Minister is being sent to New York City for Tartan Day, an important Scottish celebration. This is a crucial event because it shows that this painting is a vital part of the Scottish culture and is still believed to be painted by a Scot.

flowerstarkles said...

I was really impressed by The Trinity Altar Piece. What a reminder of Jesus being "the exact representation of the Father". Wow!