Russia: Royalty and Romanovs (9 Nov—28 Apr 2019)
Hard to believe, but there was a time when Anglo-Russian relations were incredibly strong and, judging by this new art exhibition, perhaps even blissful.
Russia: Royalty & the Romanovs at The Queen’s Gallery turns the clock back to 1698, a significant time for the royal families of Russia and Britain when Tsar Peter I stepped ashore in England for the first time. With this first-ever visit from a Russian head of state, the British royal family discovered an exciting new social circle with whom to trade incredible art. The Royal Collection has picked out these pieces for Royalty & the Romanovs.
The star of the show is a sensational 1887 painting of Queen Victoria, surrounded by her family, by Danish painter Laurits Regner Tuxen, a dynamic scene of more than 50 people in staggering detail.
Elsewhere, pieces by Peter Carl Fabergé steal the show. He had become the Russian Imperial Crown’s appointed goldsmith by the late 19th century and, as the country’s royal family became closer to Britain’s, Fabergé’s creations made for suitably lavish gifts.
Klimt / Schiele (4 Nov—3 Feb 2019)
The Royal Academy’s latest show combines beauty, nudity, tragedy and greatness, all within the humblest of formats: approximately 100 drawings on paper. Klimt / Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna is anything but humble though, as it concerns two of Austria’s most celebrated artists. These works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele are on loan from the Albertina Museum in Austria’s capital, the city in which both artists died within months of each other a century ago.
The display ranges from self-portraits and landscapes to photographs, including a Klimt sketch on Japan paper depicting the same intimate embraces that made “The Kiss” so famous. Elsewhere, the stark honesty of Schiele’s angular, uncompromising sketches of nude women is captivating.
I am Ashurbanipal (8 Nov—24 Feb 2019)
Speed back to a world of Babylonians, Hittites and Mesopotamians at The British Museum to discover a new exhibition dedicated to the ancient empire of Assyria. I am Ashurbanipal: King of the World, King of Assyria tells the story of one mighty man, who ruled a vast kingdom from his throne in what is now called Iraq. An educated man and an expert in self-promotion, Ashurbanipal appointed himself the king of the world, until his death destroyed the empire in 627 BC.
The British Museum has its own collection of Assyrian treasures, but this exhibition has also drawn from the History Museum of Armenia, St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum and the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, in the Vatican City. The museum presents the majesty of his lifestyle with huge sculptures, carved ivory and gold ornaments—a sober reminder of the recent destruction of historical sites in Iraq.
Gainsborough’s Family Album (22 Nov—3 Feb 2019)
If you’re familiar with Snapchat, filters, pouting and good lighting, you might experience twinges of recognition at the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibition, Gainsborough’s Family Album, bringing together the 12 known portraits of the British artist’s daughters. It’s a moody, atmospheric collection which demonstrates just how good Mary and Margaret were at posing: "The Painter's Daughters Chasing a Butterfly" (1756) depicts the young sisters, brimming with self-confident attitude. It’s intriguing to see such modern human behaviour reflected back from an 18th-century painting, but of course that’s just one reason to visit.
Thomas Gainsborough rose from becoming the fifth son of a Suffolk cloth merchant, to receiving art commissions from King George III. Using his daughters as a starting point, the gallery reveals the private life of one of Britain’s best-loved portrait artists through over 50 family paintings.