One day early in the trip I dragged the fam down Strand, past King’s College, to an obscure sci-fi shop to get some Dr. Who swag. I made out that this was some great sacrifice in order to bring home a present for Chad but of course it was all about ME. And I found something pretty awesome: a pewter Dalek bottle-stopper, which is threatening to exterminate our bourbon even as I type this.
On our way we noticed the Courtauld Gallery, which looked to be an interesting little museum. So we came back a couple of days later.
The Courtauld belongs to the University of London. Apparently it’s one of the best small galleries in the world, and is famous for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, such as the famous Manet above. It’s pretty cool to stand in front of the Manet and contemplate the angles of the reflections that have sparked so much debate. And also to contemplate her eyes, which are bored, tragic, and a little hard.
My favorite, however, was from a few centuries earlier – The Birth of St. Augustine, circa 1450, by Antonio Vivarini. I love the drapey folds of the bedcover. I love Augustine’s grim little old-man face — and how sad everyone else is, like they were expecting a piano or a keg of beer instead of a baby. I love how tightly he’s swaddled, as if he’s been put through one of those machines at the airport that wraps your luggage in layers and layers of plastic. I love the rich colors, and the mystery lady in red who’s staring out the window. What is she doing there? She creeps me out a little.
I’ve never heard of you before, Mr. Vivarini, but I salute you.