Drawing in the British Museum

I have a small sketch to share of a statue of the boy King Ramsses II. If you click on the image you can see the a larger version.

sketch of statueI love the British Museum as there is so much there and to be honest I felt a little spoilt for things to draw!.

page spread of travel journal This is my travel journal page spread. While at the Museum I visited the Sutton Hoo gallery and found the helmet very dramatic so purchased the postcard in the gallery shop!

photo drawingAt the time, Jerry took a photo of me drawing. I think I look a funny lady drawing

Turner was there – or close by…

Visiting the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum just adjacent to Salisbury Cathedral (review in a later post) we saw a lovely view of the cathedral painted by JWM Turner around 1828-29 – so it just predates the John Constable views. But this was special as it was a view from Old Sarum – the ancient hill fort just to the north of Salisbury. Naturally we had to set off to see if we could find it 🙂

Old Sarum is actually a fascinating place – used and re-used over the centuries, it began around 400BC as a late Iron Age hill fort, though some evidence points to possibly early Roman period, and later – following the Norman defeat of Harold in 1066 – the Normans built a castle on top to command the local countryside.

Turner’s watercolour painting appears to have been painted from one of the low ridges around the outer ditch earthworks of the ancient site. We climbed to the top and I took a couple of photos from the embankment above where Turner was painting – I think we came fairly close to his spot, and anyhow it was a fun quest to see if we could find the view, and see what it looks like today.

You can be the judge of how close we came. Here is Turner’s version:

A Distant View of Salisbury Cathedral form Old Sarum by JWM Turner - source: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
A Distant View of Salisbury Cathedral from Old Sarum by JWM Turner – source: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

And here is my version:

A view of Salisbury Cathedral form Old Sarum

A view of Salisbury Cathedral from Old Sarum

Old Sarum is well worth a visit – it is a fascinating place with around 5000 years of history. But first, don’t forget to visit the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum – they have some great artworks and artefacts – many from nearby Stonehenge and from Old Sarum.

As you might guess from this – photo quests and challenges are a fun way to begin really looking at a place 🙂


Constable’s Sketchbook

John Constable sketchbook page spread During a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum we discovered a facsimile of John Constable’s 1814 sketchbook. I was astonished to discover the pocket notebook size he used. Being about 11cm x 8.5cm (or about 4.5 inches x 3.5 inches) it truly was a pocket size. You can see my fingers holding the page spread open. It gives a sense of scale. The windmill in the photograph above is about an inch to an inch and half high. Obviously I did not have a ruler with me so that is an approximate size.

John Constable sketchbook page spread It is amazing how much infomation Constable was able to record on such a small area. It really made me think about the page size of my travel journal. If you want to see any of these images larger than life click on the photos.

John Constable sketchbook page spread The sketchbooks are full of figures and scenery, many of which Constable incorporated in his paintings.We took photos of the sketchbook page spreads, then ran around the gallery trying to see if we could spot items in the paintings.

John Constable sketchbook page spread I was interested in his drawing technique and admired these tonal drawings.

 

My camera battery went nearly flat flicking back and forth between photos to compare elements in the paintings, but it certainly was fun to see what he had used and how he had incorporated various elements. I am a big kid at heart!

John Constable sketchbook page spread I was also totally delighted to see he too sometimes drew upside down in his sketchbook. If you want to see what I mean see my video flicking through the page spreads of my last travel journal as I made the same mistake!

You can see every page of John Constable’s sketchbook on the Victoria & Albert Museum website. It is worth a visit to see his drawings.

An insight into Art Education

We paid a visit to the V&A yesterday. As Usual we walked away perfectly satisfied and stimulated.

One particular little side exhibit in the British Galleries illustrated aspects of a design education. In Britain from 1837 onwards the government established design schools in centres such as London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. Previously drawing schools had been run from private studios.

When the schools were established a curriculum was designed and teaching exercises developed which became known as the “South Kensington Method”. The exercises focussed on drawing ornamental shapes from models and examples including casts which can also be still seen in the Museum today.

Kate Greenaway tile design

This design won a scholarship prize for Kate Greenaway who became famous for her illustrations for children’s books. The National Competition provided funds for 15 students to study at the National Art Training School at South Kensington.

Diagram showing the harmonious relationships of colourThis “Diagram showing the harmonious relationships of colour” was used as a teaching aid in about 1853. The colour wheel aimed to illustrate what colours would go together. Today they look quite muted. It was accompanied by The Elementary Manual of Colour written by Richard Redgave who drew up the first curriculum of the National Schools of Art when they were established.

WS Singer's sketchbookThis is WS Singer’s sketchbook. He became a designer of church furnishings. The book shows tracings of drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Carl August Menzel panelThis panel is a print, by Carl August Menzel illustrating a series of classical patterns which was part of a set used by architects, interior designers and manufacturers. This print is mounted on card and was copied by students.

John Ruskin, did not like the South Kensington system as he believed this copying and tracing stifled imagination and he started The Ruskin School of Drawing in 1871.

Another little piece of Art Education history that you may want on your next trivia quiz night, the South Kensington School in London, became the Royal College of Art (RCA) in 1896. At the time is shared a site with the South Kensington Museum that became the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899.