Usually for me it kicks in about halfway round an exhibition... that's when I start thinking "I wonder if they have this picture as a postcard in the shop?" Indeed I remember going to the Royal Academy's 1991 Pop Art exhibition with a friend, Jacqui Tomlinson, who *raced* around the gallery barely looking at the Warhols, Lichtensteins and Johns'. When I caught up with her I asked did she really dislike it that much and she said "No, I just want to get to the shop quicker". I thought Andy Warhol would have found that particularly funny.
Of course once I get to the shop, I usually start my usual rant: "Why don't they have a postcard of THAT picture?? Why are there only 4 postcards for such a big exhibition - and why are they all the SHITE ones?" I have yet to get a proper answer to that one...
But we buy the postcards they have - and in a very special case, the catalogue - but what do you do with yours? Mine tend to sit in various boxes, waiting to be looked at again... so let's get them on here! I shall put up a few at a time and give my memories of when and where I saw them.
1) CARNATION, LILY, LILY, ROSE (1885-6) - John Singer Sargent
I bought this after seeing the glorious 2015 Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which included the luminous painting of an artist friend's two daughters lighting Chinese lanterns in a twilight garden. The postcard doesn't exactly do Sargent's colours justice but it's a lovely painting, giving a nod to impressionism but with Sargent's careful staging.
2) EL FINAL DEL NUMERO (1900-1) - Pablo Picasso
3) MRS HERBERT DUCKWORTH (1867) - Julia Margaret Cameron
I bought this at the National Portrait Gallery exhibition of Cameron in 2003. Cameron's niece Julia Jackson posed for this photograph aged 21 and her austere beauty could almost be a personification of Victorian femininity. Later that year she married the barrister Herbert Duckworth and was left widowed 3 years later with 3 children. Eight years on she married the writer Sir Leslie Stephen who already had a daughter from his first marriage. The Stephens would go on to have four more children together before Julia's death at the age of 49. Her daughters would later rebel against their mother Julia's Victorian values through art (Vanessa Bell) and literature (Virginia Woolf).
4) DAWN, TOMB OF LORENZO DI MEDICI, DUKE OF URBANO (1520-34) - Michelangelo
I bought this in the Medici Chapel in Florence where Michelangelo's monumental tomb for Lorenzo, Duke of Urbano is. The Duke of Urbano was one of the lesser Medici, dying at the age of 26 but his daughter Catherine de Medici would go on to fame as the controlling Queen of France at the time of the Huguenot massacres. Michelangelo's nude allegorical figure of Dawn however is a glorious statue of weary majesty.
5) SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST (1320) - Giotto
I bought this at the Musée Jacquemart-André, a favourite museum in Paris which usually has interesting exhibitions and an even more interesting restaurant, perfect for déjuner avec un grand patisserie. This was part of their 2015 exhibition FROM GIOTTO TO CARAVAGGIO and is a fine example of Giotto's skill in humanising his figures, his John The Evangelist is an old man whose kind and wise face is suggested by the lines around his eyes and forehead. I like the gold trimming on his blue gown and pink shawl... John obviously liked his colours. I have been told by Owen that "Giotto invented art" and I'm glad he did.