• Art

    Possibly the most cultured woman in Europe

    Trail blazers do not always come from the most likely beginnings. The daughter of middle-class, Swiss parents, Angelica Kauffman came from an unremarkable background but she was a child prodigy. In her early years, her talent for painting was matched by her singing voice and she had to make a choice between the two careers. She chose art and by the time she was nine was supporting her parents. They travelled widely, spending time in Italy and 15…

  • John Singer Sargeant Red Lady

    John Singer Sargent at the Tate

    At the turn of the last century, to have one’s portrait painted by John Singer Sargent was to say that you had arrived. And now a new exhibition at the Tate has arrived, from Boston, celebrating his work alongside fabulous costumes contemporary to this era. Wealthy and successful individuals chose Singer-Sargent to portray them as they wished to be seen; self assured, attractive, and elegant . They often came from ‘new’ money, the wives and children of businessmen…

  • Art

    Cupids and Cherubs

    ‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind’ – William Shakespeare Wishing all our wonderful followers a Happy Valentine’s Day with this collection of Cupids and Cherubs collated from our archives

  • Art

    Entangled Pasts at the Royal Academy

    They say every picture tells a story so perhaps an art exhibition is an anthology of works with the objective of looking at a subject from many and varied perspectives. This is certainly true of the new ‘Entangled Pasts’ which opened last week at the RA. It tackles the difficult and complex subject of Britain’s colonial history through art. I made the most of my lunch break yesterday, and popped in with the aim of finally seeing Dido…

  • Art

    An English Woman Abroad

    In the 17th and 18th centuries young gentlemen were encouraged to take a tour of Europe in order to complete their education and broaden their horizons. It enabled them to discover the cultural wonders of Europe and perhaps to sow a few wild oats before settling down to a respectable adult life. But what about their sisters? Did they sit meekly at home practising their accomplishments? Well, not always, as we discovered recently at Basildon Park. This painting…

  • Art

    Beckford’s Tower

    If you drive into Bath along the Lansdown Road you will pass Beckford’s Tower on the right. This extraordinary architectural folly was built in 1827 in the neoclassical style on Lansdown Hill. It was financed by an eccentric, wealthy local resident, William Beckford. He was an art collector, novelist, art collector and critic. He used the tower as a retreat and library, with the cupola at the top providing views over the surrounding countryside. However, as was sadly…

  • Art

    The Society Beauty

    Sophia Catherine Musters was a noted society beauty and here Sir Joshua Reynolds has portrayed her, at the age of 24, as Hebe. The latter was the Goddess of Youth and cupbearer of Mountain Olympus. This rather daring portrait at Kenwood House replaces an previous one which was given to the Prince of Wales, later George IV and rumoured to be her lover. This earlier portrait was a fairly conventional depiction of a young bride. Perhaps her husband…

  • Art

    In the Scottish Style

    Tonight, we will be celebrating Burns Night with a haggis supper, an occasion much enjoyed by Mr ITES who hails from across the border. In honour of this important date, we are sharing a few of our favourite paintings by celebrated Scottish portrait painter, Henry Raeburn. Born in 1756, Sir Henry started off as an apprentice to the goldsmith, James Gilliland of Edinburgh, before taking an interest in oil painting. He was self-taught, and Gilliland, keen to encourage…

  • Art

    John Singer Sargent and Fashion

    We were very excited to hear that Tate Britain are holding an exhibition of work by John Singer Sargent, opening next month. The exhibition, which just closed at the MFA Boston, is making its way across the pond to London. We’ll definitely be getting tickets for this one. In the meantime, we thought we would share this wonderful family portrait of Essie, Ruby and Ferdinand (Children of Asher Wertheimer), which is part of the Tate’s permanent collection. Happy…

  • Art

    Animal Magic

    Where would we be without our animal companions? When looking at art in galleries, stately homes and museums around the country, we often happen upon portraits of the great, the good (and not so good) portrayed with their canine companions. Symbols of loyalty, unwavering devotion, fidelity and guidance, we have spotted dogs of all sizes and many breeds, often seen gazing adoringly at their owners. Spaniels, whippets and terriers seem popular. We’ve also seen cats, squirrels, rabbits, goats…