Sunday, 12 August 2012

Expanding Horizons: Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape, National Galleries of Scotland

***Update 19/9/2012

Tweet exchange on Ask a Curator Day on Twitter

@natgalleriesSco #askacurator In the #lusieri exhibition was there a Eureka moment in piecing the panoramas together

@ProfWhitestick It was the show's curator Aidan Weston-Lewis, who had the eureka moment as he had been planning these reunions for years.

@natgalleriessco Thanks, This comes through in the exhibition and a beautiful catalogue with unfolding panoramas.

***end of update

8th August 2012

In the Culture Vulture package of exhibition tickets there is an admission to this Lusieri exhibition of panoramic landscape paintings.  (   There had been a programme on the radio with Adam Nicolson discussing Dark Arcadias.  This was all about the interpretation of Virgil and Horace on landscape.  The programme chimed with the Symbolist Landscape exhibition and having been enthused, we decided that it was a day for Lusieri. 

We entered the Mound complex of the galleries and a very helpful guard was concerned that we were lost.  I explained that I had my ticket in advance as we had done the Symbolist Landscape exhibition the week before, and I was refamiliarising myself with the gallery.  The gallery has the permanent collection and the guard told me about the Veronese and Mountstewart exhibitions as well.  The Mound has quite a large underground and mezzanine floor plan and we found the exhibition via accessible lifts.

The exhibition of drawings, sketches, watercolours and some oil paintings has been assembled in an imaginative way to recreate many of the Lusieri artworks which had been dispersed.  Lusieri was a drawer for Lord Elgin and made many drawings of classical artifacts in both Italy and Greece.  His work has been ignored by many and the curator of this exhibition has managed to fit some beautiful panoramas of the Bay of Naples.  The research and cataloguing speaks for itself as the panorama of first Rome then Naples with Vesuvius came into view. 

The catalogues and large print room guides are placed on benches and can be perused.  The hardback catalogue has folded full panoramas of some of the scenes.  Having this available encouraged me to buy the catalogue. 

I was getting familiar with some views of Rome as I had been to the exhibition of Corot paintings included in the Clark Collection.  Some of Lusieri’s pictures in both watercolour and oil of Vesuvius erupting are stunning.  He even managed to get the moon with its reflection into a scene. 

Lusieri tended to bookend his paintings and it was common for him to insert a tree where there had not been one.  He uses this to balance a building on one side and I am sure he bookended a picture with a very heavy cloud for balance.  His drawings are very clear with clear lines indicating the buildings especially columns of the Roman and Greek monuments. 

The sketches can just about be discerned in part though they were too feint for me to make out much.  Depending on how you go round the rooms, it is possible to get the view first with the finished item (with details of the picture label read out by companion) and then go and find an initial sketch. 

There are quite a few sketches of people, though they seem to be in odd states of movement.  There was one sketch of a man leaning on a staff at an impossible angle (my 5 months using a crutch tells me this). His drawings of dogs are recognisable though his owl fooled me into thinking it was a cat.

The shop were very helpful and checked my catalogue for complete pages.  The catalogue details are as follows:  

Expanding Horizons: Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape by Aidan Weston-Lewis with Fabrizia Spirito, Kim Sloan and Dyfri Williams, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

I also bought some other books and a print of Monet’s Haystacks.

It was a sunny day and having a coffee on the terrace outside, I wondered how Lusieri would have framed the panorama of Edinburgh looking east with the Scott Monument and Scotsman building as book ends.  The classical view would have included the Athens of the North with a nod to the Earl of Elgin.

Panorama of Edinburgh towards the east
book-ended with Scot Monument on left and Scotsman building on right
with Calton Hill and Balmoral Hotel (North British Hotel)

The information desk was also very helpful and on asking for availability of more information on some picture labels, said they would pass on my request.  The National Galleries of Scotland sent me the information within a day.  Many thanks to Matt Ramagge and Elinor McMonagle, and also, of course, to Meg for her help and encouragement to take some time over the Lusieri exhibition.  I found it very heartening that the National Galleries of Scotland staff make a positive effort to promote access for all.

Cat 13
An Oak Tree
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour
Tree on its own, easily recognisable, amazing detail

Cat 10
View of Rome from the Villa Mellini on Monte Mario
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour
Reminds me of coral in Clark exhibition on impressionists

Cat 11
The Tiber Valley looking North from Monte Mario
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour
Can make out river, tree on right

Cat 2
Ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, Rome
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour, gum Arabic

Cat 3
Ruined Arch in the Baths of Caracalla

Cat 17
Naples from Megellina
Private collection

Cat 18
The Bay of Naples and Vesuvius from Mergellina
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Vesuvius to right, on left bookended by building and rock

Cat 16
The Bay of Naples from Portici
Tree on left, villa on right and boat with 3 masts in the middle

Cat 15
Naples from Capodimonte

Cat 20
The Bay of Naples from Palazzo Sessa
Bookended on the left by a building and on the right by clouds

Cat 50
The Gulf of Baia
Features the island of Prossida
Both uncles met here during WWII and one allegedly shot a boat!

Cat 49
Lucieri is better at drawing trees than people

Cat 59
Wooded Lake with Huntsman
Reminds me of Dutch paintings.  Could make out huntsman in foreground after some prompting

Cat 51
Lacco on Ischia
Prossida again

Cat 47
Temple of Serapis, Pozzuoli

Cat 46
The Herculaneum Gate, Pompei

Cat 23
Vesuvius from Posillipo by Moonlight with the eruption of 1787
Could make out moon with difficulty but eventually
Vesuvius erupting as well

Cat 25
Vesuvius during eruption of 1794

Cat 27
Vesuvius from Posillipo by Moonlight with the eruption of 1794

Cat 58
Temples at Paestum

Cat 53
The Plain of Paestum

Cat 54, 55 and 56
Panoramic view of the Plain and Palace of Caserta
This is three separate paintings brought together

Cat 42-45
Paintings of 4 dogs

Cat 60
Panorama of Palermo and the Conca d’Oro from Monreale

Cat 73
South-east corner of the Parthenon

Cat 75
A short-eared owl
Thought it was a cat at first!