Medieval & Renaissance

Lovely blue skies over snow white land and quite chilly.  Paths slippery!

Today we were due to journey into London (Mirinda being off work over Christmas) to meet Karen and Nigel to see the new wing at the V&A.  Last night, Mirinda started coughing and hacking and generally sounding ill which could have had something to do with the lack of buttons on her coat and getting covered in sleet and snow.  All that added up to me going into London and leaving my sad and sorry wife snuggled up in bed as I ventured forth into the freeze.

I had watched a feature on the new gallery on The Culture Show a few weeks ago and was really keen to see it.  When I mentioned it to Karen, she suggested we all meet and see it.  A sort of final day out I guess.  It is fantastic.  For someone like me who is into just about everything but particularly religious iconography, mythical sculpture and St Sebastien, it was pretty much close to heaven.  As we strolled through the rooms, I mentioned to Nigel that it was exactly like any of our tours of Europe – me and churches!

Karen, it seems, does not like religious iconography, finds it unpleasant to look at.  I told her it was because she didn’t know how to read them; didn’t know the stories behind the images.  I described a few of them to her but she remains unconvinced.  I, however, loved every minute.  Well, except for the carpets.  I really cannot get particularly excited about carpets.

The were two Saint Sebastiens though!  One glorious little statue in silver and gilt by Hans Holbien the Elder.  Here’s a picture of it.

San Sebastien

San Sebastien

The fine detail is wonderful.  It only stands about 300mm high.  It is exquisite.  It was my favourite piece in the whole gallery.

In saying that, there were a couple of honourable mentions for best in gallery.  The first goes to the oddly named Bartmann Jugs.  I thought the name was a joke and had something to do with The Simpsons but no, these things came first.  They were vessels which depicted bearded men, looking quite serious.  The head was generally at the top, beneath the neck of the jug, and the body of the jug was the man’s body.  They were generally of quite generous proportions!  Clearly very well fed with the contents of the jug.  They seriously looked quite odd.  I’ll post them on the site later along with the other V&A photos I took.  I have and they’re here.

The other honourable mention and equally odd, was a carved tufa fireplace decoration.  It showed hunting scenes and had lots of animals and people doing all sorts of hunting things.  Nothing unusual there at all.  Until you looked really closely.  One of the men had the bottom of his trousers ripped off and was showing his pants which, on close inspection, appeared to be a pair of frilly French knickers!  I kid you not.  It was made between 1510 & 1530 in Padua, Italy.

We spent quite a long time in the gallery so it’s possibly a good thing Mirinda stayed in bed!  About half way through Karen popped off to see another exhibit while Nigel and I finished.  It was then off for lunch.

When I used to visit Karen at work and we’d go for lunch, we had taken to visiting a nice little French place, not far from the V&A.  It served vast quantities of salmon and scrambled eggs and the staff were always pleasant.  We decided this would do for lunch.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered it had changed into an Italian place with a window full of cakes.

According to the manager, it was originally the Italian place then changed to French and has now returned to what it should be.  They now have pizza.  I was once more in heaven.

Karen told us a funny story as we ate.  They, naturally, have been extremely busy packing up, cleaning, selling and generally dispersing their worldly goods to all manner of places, in preparation for their return to Australia.  One box of stuff was destined for a charity shop and was safely situated in a cupboard, waiting for it’s trip downstairs.  On Sunday, Karen and Nigel came over, bringing with them their last bits and pieces, wine for Christmas day and Christmas presents.  I didn’t put the presents under the tree as Carmen was a little too interested in them.  Apparently, there are no presents for me in the bag.  They were taken to the charity shop by accident and distributed to the ends of Wimbledon.  Because Karen always buys me odd things from odd places around the world, she couldn’t possibly re-buy them.  They are likely to be quite rude so I’m a tad concerned about some frail old volunteer opening the box and getting a fright

It was sort of a sad day, really.  Though we’ll see them on Christmas day, I realised today how much I’m going to miss Karen.  Still, she’ll only ever be an email away!

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