A special Monday morning...

 On Monday morning, early, we took the train to London and walked to the Courtauld Gallery . This beautiful, small place hold some of the world's most famous and recognisable paintings...
 ...who doesn't know this self-portrait by Van Gogh, for instance? He looks so remarkably serene despite his mutilated ear...or maybe just resigned to the mental illness that was taking over his brilliant, creative life?
 Gauguin is a particular favourite of my father...I took this photo for him especially!
 This unfinished painting really captivated me...I particularly enjoyed seeing the sketches underneath, the bare bones of the artists work...

 Downstairs was a small room containing mediaeval and renaissance religious art...I was all alone in there...surrounded by incredible colour. It was hard to believe that the painting below dates from 1500...
 and this one is 1409!
 'The Annunciation' is often reproduced on Christmas cards, but it's very special to see it in real life...it was created in around 1450...
 This nativity (1400) really struck me because, despite being over 700 years old, the faces of the figures seemed so human...
 I find that mediaeval art can look a little 'flat'...but not these...
 ...there were also many religious items...boxes, reliquaries...carved from ivory...
 ...these figures would once have been accented with colour (a few traces remain on the veil and draperies.

We were at the gallery to view a special exhibition there, that's just coming to an end...Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude. The first photo shows a portion of one of my favourite paintings there. Schiele was an Austrian artist, who only lived from 1890-1918...he, his wife and their unborn first child died in the terrible Spanish flu pandemic that occurred just after the end of the First World War. Much of his work is very anatomically explicit and he was imprisoned on indecency charges for a few months. I found it neither pornographic nor erotic...to me, it was incredibly beautiful...in a 'real' way...and filled with truth. Not 'pretty' art by any means - but I stayed for a long time in those small rooms, taking in this incredible collection which will soon be split up again as the works are sent back to the places all over the world that lent them. Very special!

Can you believe that January is almost half over already?

These beauties are already gracing the churchyard...snow is forecast this evening...but I don't think we'll have much here (although a lot of the country is in an icy grip already!)

If you haven't already, do pop over and visit my dear friend Sue Branch's brilliant blog...not only is there a truly fabulous giveaway to enter...but there are also some people you may recognise there (and one super-cute dog!)

Hoping the New Year is wonderful so far....x


  1. what a glorious way to spend a morning!

    I have been delighted to find snowdrops in our front garden this week. They make me smile.

    No snow here. :o/ and doubtful we'll get even the merest hint of the stuff. Such a shame. Would really love a light dusting!

  2. How wonderful to live so near to a train station that you can just get on a train and off to London you go!
    My snowdrops disappeared two years ago, and I have yet to see a sign of any here yet.
    Hope the wind fizzles out before it reaches you, right now it is getting blustery here in the west ~~~Deb xo

  3. What a lovely way to spend your time in a wonderful museum. I'm always amazed when I see the original painting from a favorite artist. It's just the best.
    We have a dusting of snow and very cold temperatures in the US.
    Loved seeing your dear Alice on Susan's blog. Also your hubby and you! xo ♥

  4. Looks like you had a lovely Monday touring the gallery and taking in the fabulous art exhibition! I'm glad for you! I popped over to Susan's blog and so enjoyed seeing photos of you, Paul, and Alice! What a special birthday gift Sue has made for Paul. Please tell him he looks very handsome in a beard and mustache. Big love and hugs! xoxo

  5. Thank you, Rachel, for those lovely pictures of all the magnificent art work! I would love to see them in person someday. Since January is a cold, long month I always say we are one day closer to spring! YAY! xoxo

  6. These paintings are beautiful!

  7. That does look like a very inspiring outing. When I lived in NYC, we visited museums often but here not really. It's fun to see the luminous colors and get a sense of life as it was so long ago. Glad you had such a nice time. Where's the pic of the scary nude the guy was jailed for? LOL In NY, I lived right down the street from the natural history museum and planetarium, and that was super fun to visit the dinosaurs and other stuff. Here culture is mostly about yogurt and I don't really like yogurt. Glad you had such a fun adventure. ♥

  8. What a fabulous collection, Rachel. So blessed to be within a few hours! Thank you for sharing! We LOVE the medieval altar art. Those egg tempera panels are practically indestructible. To think the color has remained unfaded all these years! Gene taught this medium in California, and it was so interesting! There is a museum in Tulsa, OK that has a few, and we love them. You can get lost in the wonder of that age! Thank you for this wonderful memory. xo

  9. Oh, I have popped over there and beautiful it is...filled with stories and recipes and people I love..... Happy early birthday to your beloved Paul. He's so charming and Miss Sue made him into a darling to grace your wall! I love that you took time to travel into London to see the exhibition. We often don't take those moments and leave them for tourists and guests to take in. It's wonderful to savor all your beautiful country has to offer.... Have a beautiful rest of your week my friend!! xoxo

  10. Happy New Year Rachel! You're an inspiration and how wonderful via your recommendation to enjoy Susan Branch's fabulous talents too. Kindred spirits are special and to be cherished, Alison xxx

  11. Saw your Alice on Susan's blog and had to check in. I've been a sucker for Fox Terriers since the seventies and haven't spent many moments without one since. Our latest, Glory, magically appeared just when we lost our dear Calder after nearly seventeen years. She's our first female and we are enjoying her immensely. So, as a Wire lover and a baker, it's fun to find your blog. —Shanna


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