[The Cholmondeley Ladies (c1600-10), British School C17]
I went for a walk today. The first part was along the the Embankment which is inextricably linked in my mind to the lovely song and the lovely image of 'the lights on the Embankment like jewels on chains' as sung by Fairground Attraction which has romanticised the Embankment for me for ever. Even in broad daylight. The second part was a walk through British Art; I have to feel both reassured and unsettled that the Tate says 'until January 2023' and wonder if will I be bored/still looking by the time it changes.
The Tate has completely rehung their permanent displays chronologically with smaller thematic groups beautifully grouped in the various rooms. So you begin the walk at 1545 and stroll through images of British life and people and scenes and imagery and costumes and ideas. It's the first time I've ever wanted to linger near the earlier paintings; the 16th to 18th centuries come out of the rehang particularly well and are all about people and contemporary life (as opposed to the religious/grand set-pieces I usually associate with the periods). After this directness and relevance and freshness, many19th century painters begin to look rather pompous and overwrought despite some wonderful paintings of ordinary life, while the paintings and sculptures from the first six decades of the 20th century, once free of the Victorian baggage, are full of energy and radical stylistic departures. Unhappily, though, some of the recent works from the last fifty years simply make the artist look utterly alienated from society and from viewers - or perhaps it's the other way round.
[The Potteries (c1938), Julian Trevelyan]
The Tate has put out lots of paintings that haven't been seen before/for a long time which makes it feel as though you are going round a completely new gallery. It's ambitious, it's fascinating, it's brilliant, it's the best indoor walk in London, and it's free.