Friday, October 10, 2008

My Writing Class at the National Gallery

Thursday, October 9, 2008
London

My Anglo-Indian course at NYU is going, as they would say in London, "brilliantly". My students have actually finished reading all 500 pages of William Dalrymple's White Moghuls and we have a very productive discussion. Oral presentations on The Way We Were are also engaging, my students using Powerpoint very effectively to present visuals, maps, and the like. I am impressed by their creativity,their industry, the manner in which they have "gotten into" my course. Two of my students leave class early because they've been invited to a lunch at Norwood by a South London Anglo-Indian group that meets each Thursday to play bingo and eat Anglo-Indian food. The rest of the students envy them and want to be invited as well. "Can't we all go?" they ask. Then I inform them that another Anglo-Indian group based in Berkshire has invited all of us to a do on November 9 to meet their members and partake of more Anglo-Indian grub. We are all devastated that the date falls in the midst of our Fall Break when most of us will be traveling. But I am deeply touched by the warmth and the hospitality and the welcome we are receiving from every quarter.

An hour later, I am at the National Gallery getting ready to meet my Writing Class. I am taking them on a tour and I proudly wear a Group Leader badge given me by the National Gallery Education Department to wear during the tour. I am nervous because I do not know the layout of the museum well enough and have to consult my floor plan each time I wish to move from one item to the next. Still, we have a lovely afternoon (at least I did and I hope my students did too) as we viewed and studied 12 works. Here are the choices I made:

Piero della Francesca--The Baptism
Paolo Uccello--The Battle of San Romano
Bronzino--An Allegory
Tintoretto--The Origin of the Milky Way
Meynhert Hobbema--The Avenue, Middleharnis
Pieter de Hooch--Courtyard of a House in Delft
Thomas Gainsborough--Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews
George Stubbs--The Millbank and Melbourne Families
J.M.W.Turner--The Fighting Temeraire
John Constable--The Hay Wain
Georges Seurat--The Bathers at Asnieres

I wanted to show them The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein and The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eych only to be informed that those two masterpieces have been removed from their usual places to be included in a special exhibit opening on October 15.

I am fatigued, deeply fatigued, by the time I leave the museum, but I do want to finish two more rooms in the Sainsbury Wing (that I have been studying closely piece-meal) before I get home. A close analysis of the work of Sasseta, Duccio and Cosimo da Tura finishes my day. I cannot resist sitting outside in Trafalgar Square for a few minutes on what is a particularly gorgeous autumn day. Then, I begin the half hour trek to my flat, amazed at the confidence with which I can now find my way home using the shortest cuts without consulting a map. In six weeks, I have learned so much about my surroundings.

Them, I lollop around on my couch while finishing the last bits of The Mayor of Casterbridge on DVD starring Ciarin Hinds in the title role. I think I prefer the version I saw years ago with Alan Bates playing Henchard.

I am looking forward to my first full weekend in London and I have so many ideas on how to spend it. Mercifully, the weather promises to be blissful.

1 comment:

Douglass Montrose-Graem said...

Great report.
You are cordially invited to visit
The Turner Museum www.turnermuseum.org
for a feast of Turners. Regretfully the English never carried out Turner wishes to have his multi-billion bequest to the public shown in a Turner Gallery - now the bequest is scattered, with the bulk in The Tate, much of it not on view.
[we are the only institution named after Turner, attempting to assemble at least his magnificent graphic output under one roof, under his name]
Douglass Montrose-Graem Director
[www.spirit007genius.com]
Have a wonderful time!