Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A brilliant day out

Yesterday we went to Compton Verney, a country house which has been turned into an 'art destination', housing a permanent collection and excellent temporary exhibitions.  The weather was good, and the exhibition is one which we would not miss, as it involves two of the artists we both have admired for many decades: Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.  I find that each has indeed influenced my own work more profoundly than I had realised.
It is such a bonus to have so close together two excellent exhibitions about Moore's work, the first being at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford: Francis Bacon/ Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone.  I wrote a post about our visit, and Eirene also wrote a post in A Place called Space.
The grounds of Compton Verney have several examples of Rodin's and Moore's work, and we would have lingered longer had the wind not been so biting as we made our wandering way to the house itself.  I always enjoy the four sphinxes on the bridge across the lake - they of course are neither Rodin nor Moore, but permanent delights.
The first Moore is on the car park side of the lake, and affords a tantalising view across to the other pieces and to the house.
Moore:The arch
Rodin: Cybele - I just love that folded back arm of hers.
Moore: Seated woman
Moore: Three piece sculpture: Vertebrae  with a view to The arch and Rodin's Jean d'Aire, Monumental Nude on the near bank.
We had a lovely light lunch in the restaurant before embarking on the exhibition proper indoors.  Then on to several rooms of sculptures and drawings.  There is also a display containing fascinating objects from the two artists' own collections: examples of classical art, ethnic artefacts, and natural forms such as shells and stones.  It was such a joy to re-encounter familiar pieces, and to find completely new works which took my breath away, such as this bronze by Moore:
Henry Moore: Working Model for Mother and Child: Upright (image from here, although the piece in the exhibition was part of the Henry Moore Foundation's collection).  I was entranced by this piece in particular because to me she looks as if she is singing with her open mouth, and that the 'child' resembles an instrument such as a harp (the right hand being well placed to be pausing from playing such).  I also very much like the marks on the lower body, and the snail-shell-like curves of the dress at the bottom back. 
I love Moore's work for its stillness, and Rodin's for the gestures.  The examples chosen throughout the exhibition are wonderfully complementary and we found the whole a thoroughly enriching experience.
Rodin: Monument to the Burghers of Calais from their normal place near the Houses of Parliament in London.


  1. I've seen some of Rodin's work in the most unlikely place - Maryhill Museum which is truly in the middle of nowhere along the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington state side (USA). I knew immediately that those last few pics of yours were of his work based on what I've seen at Maryhill - they have one of the studies he did for The Burghers of Calais in their collection. Indoors, though, not outdoors!

  2. Thanks for the link, Sheila. I knew that there's a Rodin Museum in Philadelphia
    It's one of the great things about bronzes, there are usually several of them for each design, so lots of folks get to see the work.

  3. Truly an enriching experience Olga; i too love Moore and Rodin.Viewing works of art ,here sculptures, outdoors seems to have different effect like its a part of your environment!bringing it out in the open sure has a liberating effect i guess!also liked the contrast between Rodin's realism and Moore's expression of form.

  4. You got there first - again! I am really looking forward to seeing this exhibition and having seen your wonderful post, I feel it even more so now.

    Love the Arch, and the folded back arm of Cybele. Look forward to seeing the Burghers again which we saw in Copenhagen last year - a monumental piece.

    And thanks for the mention, Olga.

  5. What a lovely place this looks to be ... and with Moore and Rodin together, irresistible. I must visit soon.

  6. Vijaya, yes it is a wondrous experience seeing sculpture in an outdoor setting. Especially on a sunny day.

    Eirene, it is a really well curated exhibition. I feel sure that you will enjoy it.

    Margaret, it is a great place. I have been there three times now over the past few years. Each of the temporary exhibitions was of an extraordinary quality. The permanent collections are worth seeing too.

  7. Mine too, Marja-Leena, and I am lucky that Moore especially is much more popular again these days, so there are more interesting exhibitions and chances to see a wide variety of his work.