DAY 6 CORNUCOPIA (The National Gallery and later Soho)

I simply cannot fathom the amount of famous artworks that I have seen today. For now I have gathered up my senses and taken refuge in an Italian Restaurant a few blocks from Trafalgar Square.

Cezanne, Degas, Seurat, Van Gogh, Monet, Daumier, Corot, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable, Goya, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Rubens, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Leonardo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian… and aaah Turner – all under one roof. It occurred to me, as I recall these names that I am mentally walking back through the museum and listing artists room to room as one might think of the supermarket aisles while writing a grocery list.

There is a special exhibition of Veronese (16C) at the moment – It is always interesting to see a large body of a single artists’ work … and in this instance my lessons were in colour. Everywhere I turned there were intensely saturated hues; Teal, Jade, Mandarin, Sapphire, Viridian, Marigold.

What is truly fascinating is the way he makes up these colours on the canvas. For example: the marigold hue is simply made up of ochre, with blotches of lemon tint and antique white highlight. None of these colours are very saturated at all, individually, and yet placed next to each other they emit an intense sun-like glow.  Similarly, a seemingly sophisticated olive hue is simply a raw umber with white highlight although situated next to a bright orange it looks green – such a clever display of colour theory - though I doubt Veronese would have thought of his gift in such terms.

One of my favourite pieces of art in the whole world is Leonardo’s cartoon of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and John the Baptist, indeed I have a print of this work on my studio wall (I will post a pic here – this is from the internet as no photos were allowed at the National Gallery). I saw this work today in the flesh! And The Madonna of the Rocks too! I love Leonardo.

My risotto has arrived – now what a fool I was to seek refuge for my senses in an Italian restaurant. How much more perpetual delight can I take?

Later that day (and an attempt to answer question above)…

This evening I met up with wonderful old friends who are London natives – or at least now call London home. They took me to the famous Groucho Club in Soho. The club is named after Groucho Marx, who's celebrated wire to a club requested “Please accept my resignation, I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." It really is the perfect motto for a club that is the bastion for all sorts of artists. By supporting their members and hosting many exhibitions and private views, the Club has amassed a large collection of contemporary art that is on display on the walls and window ledges everywhere you turn.

Over many rhubarb Bellini’s and a delectable meal at Polpetto's down the road, we talked of many things and whiled away the evening and I fell more deeply in love with this incredible city.

c. 1499–1500 or c. 1506–8
charcoal, black and white chalk on tinted paper mounted on canvas
141.5 cm × 104.6 cm (55.7 in × 41.2 in)