So today was my lucky day - I hopped on Chirbury Art Club's bus to Compton Verney where the group were going to see, amongst other things, the exhibition '500 years of Italian Art'. The venue ticked a lot of boxes; attractive surroundings, non-scary Art in bite-sized pieces, coffee, cake and the company of friends.
I must admit that Compton Verney was not exactly unknown to me - having grown up nearby in mid-Warwickshire's bucolic landscape. However, I never visited as a child - it was not then a gallery or a destination and my parents were more than dismissive about the elegant but shabby stately home we passed occasionally en route to buy groceries or on one of those dreary Sunday afternoon drives which passed for entertainment in the early sixties.
My first thoughts as the little bus and its chattering cargo pulled into the car park, was regret that I hadn't appreciated previously that such a lovely place was on my doorstep. A finely-proportioned building of creamy Cotswold stone set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown for heaven's sake! But then, would an 8 year old really have been bothered and later I suppose ... let's just say other stuff seemed more important. I feel vaguely foolish that as an adult in charge of my own life. I've never been this way before. Sigh. (One day I will make as list of things my parents said which would have been better left unheeded.) Still, I'm here now and anticipating great delights....
The collections are fine, of high quality and not overwhelming - Neapolitan Art, Northern European paintings, British Portraiture, a Chinese collection and joy of joys - British Folk Art.
The visiting exhibition '500 years of Italian Art', on loan from Glasgow had us admiring a Boticelli, Titian and Belinni amongst other worthy pieces. At the end of our visit when D and I closed the door on the final gallery we'd succumbed to 'Art Fatigue'.
'It's all a bit of a blur' admitted D 'I seem to have been looking at one fat baby after another....'
And yes, I know exactly what she meant - in the many religious works there were plenty of chubby children - not just the infant Christ but 'putti' too.
The Folk Art Collection came as quite a relief after rooms of more serious Art, having a guileless charm of its own. Here are depictions of everyday-life by self-taught painters; the prize ram or heifer, pugilists, street scenes, landscapes with carriage accidents and wild bulls; the largest or smallest; the drama of the day. The Fine Art of the chattering classes might be the art of galleries and high places but this is art by the people, for the people. This wonderful collection was amassed by the late art dealer Andras Kalman and exhibited here at Compton Verney courtesy of the Peter Moores Foundation.
Perspective and scale are frequently awry, anatomy suspect and distorted. It doesn't matter - these are confident pieces and great social statements.
It seemed that having a dog in your picture was almost a prerequisite. Once a couple had caught my eye I couldn't help spotting more. So instead of a plethora of putti, I give you plenty of pups:
......and for cat lovers this gorgeous tortoiseshell:
Isn't she just the loveliest thing?