Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Posts Tagged ‘Nelson’s Column’

London, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery 1.10.05

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 29, 2005

The National Gallery is a gem! We took the bus to Trafalgar Square and – like lots of other tourists enjoying the warm and sunny day, we admired Nelson’s Column and, from the balcony of the gallery, a view across to Big Ben. There are statues everyhere, even George Washington and Edith Cavell, whose heroism I admired as a child. I wish we had more of such statues at home in Melbourne, but no, we Australians don’t like to exalt our great men and women and so most of us don’t know what they looked like, even if we have heard of them. (Why, for example, don’t we have a statue of Howard Florey, who discovered penicillin, or Patrick White, our Nobel prize winning author?)
Tim navigated us through the gallery so we didn’t miss much, and I saw almost everything I wanted to. But when we stopped to rest our aching feet at the Espresso Cafe, we found a clever little interactive screen on the tables, that enables you to locate where particular pictures are and plan your visit. That’s when we realised we’d missed the Sainsbury’s Wing, and went back to find Bellili’s Doge and the Arnolfini Wedding – smaller than I expected but terrific – I even saw some details I’d not noticed before like her red shoes under the bed.
After that we went to the National Portrait Gallery, and loved it! Lots of daggy old British Chinless Wonders, but I liked Aldous Huxley, Churchill, Newton, Shakespeare and Thomas Marvell, and those royals that I’ve seen so many times before, like Henry II for example, but these were the real portraits. I have a soft spot for George III who donated his library, and George IV who built the Brighton Pavilion, which I really like. I especially liked a massive one of Elizabeth 1 in her white dress, standing on the globe of the world – you can see the jewels all over her gown as you can’t when you only see the picture in a book.
There were also some terrible pictures of the current royals, Charles looking particularly insipid.
We took a cab home and learned all about the Finnish language from our genial driver, who’d learned it from his wife who used it to speak to their children.

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