On Friday, I met up with my mum and aunt, who were having a day out in London. They had already been to see Jan Gossaert’s (Flemish, like they are!) work at the National Gallery by the time I met up with them, and had a cheeky sit in at a lunch time concert at St Martin-In-The-Fields whilst they were waiting for me to arrive, so I knew they were on a culture binge. After a spot of lunch, we decided to round off the day with a visit to the Victoria & Albert museum.
After a drift through the hall of statues (the first gallery you come to after entering via the subway), we decided to avail ourselves of the temporary exhibition on the 1860-1900’s aesthetic movement, The Cult Of Beauty.
As all three of us are avid lovers of all things Art Noveau, it drew us in immediately. With a philosophy best summed up by Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, the aesthetic movement was a celebration of beauty. Whilst I wasn’t mad on everything in the exhibition, there was an astoundingly large selection to choose from. My favourites included Pavonia (the picture used in the promotional material, as above), Proud Maisie, The Beguiling of Merlin and Louise Jopling. I was also deeply drawn in by the beautiful statue, Mors Janua Vitae (death is the gateway to life) by Harry Bates – the picture on that website does not do it justice; it is stunningly beautiful and more than a bit unnerving.
As well as being crammed full of beautiful paintings, sketches and sculpture, The Cult of Beauty also boasts some architectural drawings (including sketches for Whistler’s famous Peacock Room), Morris wallpapers, pottery, a set of wrought iron gates, some beautiful clothing and astonishing feats of carpentry. Oscar Wilde gets a mention or two, and there is a poster for a play entitled “Quite Too Utterly Utter”, which makes me grin like a loony.
The exhibition is on until the 17th of July, and is well worth the price of the ticket. We spent a good couple of hours in there, and would have taken even more time if we hadn’t started flagging after a long day.
Tickets are priced at £12 Full, £9 Seniors citizens, £7 Full time students, ES40 holders, 12-17 year olds, £31/£19 Family tickets (2 adults and 2 12-17 yrs/1 adult and 2 12-17 yrs)
Find full details on the V&A website.