The day began with a quick stop at Somerset House cafe, WatchHouse, for a flat white and, one of my happiest memories of Lisbon, a luscious Pastéis de Nata.
As soon as I entered the first gallery, it was love at first sight. Twenty-two works by Parmigianino. I was enchanted by how easy he makes it look, his economy of line, his sprezzatura.
The tenderness of gesture.
All this, and large magnifying glasses were available to see every mark distinctly. Heaven.
Tiepolo has that same innate bravura. Paint is his servant; loose without being sloppy. His virgins do not simper. This is a Virgin who knows what’s what.
From triumphant to doomed. This portrait was a heartbreaker. A beauty, young and full of promise. But what does the museum card tell us?
George Romney painted this portrait around the
time Georgiana Peachy married the politician
Lord Greville… Georgiana died on
her first wedding anniversary, aged 19, a few
days after giving birth.
How grim is that?
Another woman whose life doesn’t turn out well as she’d hoped. Eve and a serpent who is more mirror than a reptile.
I’m glad I didn’t miss the photography exhibition in a small room off the stairs. Anthony Kersting’s Kurdistan in the 1940s, vintage photographs of a vanished world.
The expression of this monk. I see compassion, benevolence, and humor. Maybe it’s just the dimples, but I can believe he knows the secret to the meaning of life.
The skeptical gaze of the tribal girl.
From here I skedaddled to the maze of the Tate Modern for the cheese of the perpetually sold-out exhibit of Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, by Yayoi Kusama. I arrived on time and chose one of the two queues at random. Thus I saw Chandeliers of Grief first, followed by Infinity Room, 19 minutes in each line, two minutes in the rooms. It reminded me of Nabokov’s line from Speak Memory, “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”
For me, it was worth it.
I’d booked the lunch that accompanied the exhibition, and Em met me there. Nice view and a fancy meal.
Food delivery was slow as the Troubador, but not as friendly. On the upside, they offer a super fancy delicious sober beverage.
We took an Uber boat back down the Thames to the Embankment. That turned out to be more of a romantic idea than an enjoyable experience. I was queasy from the stink of fuel and pitch and roll of what amounted to a river bus. Nevertheless, I’m glad to have given it a try. I may not have floated down the mighty Thames like the royal barges of yore, but I did get a river’s eye view of the city of London.