Molly’s visit to the National Gallery

During her second and final week of work experience with us, we sent Molly off to the National Gallery to have a look at the fantastic Rembrandt works.

Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is one of England’s biggest art galleries. I’ve dreamt of visiting it ever sine it was featured in St Trinian’s (2007)! I had high hopes, and it did not disappoint.

Upon arriving, I was amazed by how many people were there despite the fact is was mid afternoon on a weekday! In fact, the National Gallery has remained one of the top ten most visited sites in the world, despite the various Covid-19 restrictions.

After walking through security, I began my trip round via route B, which took me to Rubens, Van Gogh and Rembrandt – the focus of my trip.

Eventually I found myself in room 30, which happens to home one of my favourite paintings – the Rokeby Venus by Velázquez, one of the foremost painters of the Spanish Golden Age. This painting exceeded my expectations by far – it is simply sensational. Seeing it in the flesh allowed me to appreciate the work in a way I hadn’t been able before, and to notice small details such as the different use of brushstrokes. The background is covered by loose and confident brushstrokes, whilst the paint application is much more refined on Venus’ body. It is clear where the artist intended our focus to be drawn!

Awestruck, I then moved to the Rembrandt room. This small, soft grey space featured paintings including Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback and Self Portrait at the Age of 34. I was completely enthralled by what I saw; eyes that followed me around the room and breathtaking detail.

I spent quite a while in the room, as to my joy I had the opportunity to speak to one of the gallery staff about the works. I was intrigued as to why there was so little colour Rembrandt’s paintings, and the guide helped me to understand more about the historical context of using colour. Brightly coloured pigments were seen as status symbols and were often associated with the Church due to their expense. The conversation also moved to value as I felt these works were particularly dark. The guide pointed out that a lot of these works would have been painted in candlelight, which also explains the warm glow and atmosphere in the paintings.

Inspired, I then went back to Route A which featured a lot of religious artwork. At first I was slightly overwhelmed by so many vivid depictions of the crucifixion, but was able to view the paintings with my new understanding of the significance of colour.

Seeing a Michelangelo with my own eyes in Room 61 was a moment I will not forget. The way he depicts the figures is exceptional.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the National Gallery, and left feeling very inspired! I am already planning my next visit.

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