Exclusive Rembrandt Evening Viewing – But Later Revolutionary Outrage

Friday 28th November 2014

I’m still reeling from last night. Lord Arrowby swayed me to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. He was wearing a radical overblouse by Raf Simons and carmine trousers by Dries – on a Thursday, having come directly from running the country. But the artistes at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern are furious and want the whole fabric of society pulled down. You won’t believe it. It was terrifying. What an irony if my limo had pulled up outside to fetch me away afterwards.

Come back later for more – and graphs.

I revert for comfort to the exclusive evening viewing of the Rembrandt I undertook with Robert Nevil on Sunday. For £45 each, you could view with very few others, recalling the time I was taken by Harry Rollo’s mother, then a Trustee of the National Gallery for after-hours viewing of the Titian Exhib. The only other spectators were Bamber Gascoigne and his suite. I know little of Rembrandt but I’m enthralled by his riches to rags story. Was it luck that he didn’t plump up on admiration and being established? The late work (the Exhib is Rembrandt The Late Works) is searing. The viewer experiences a physical assault. Each portrait is a refraction of the sitter’s mind, terrifying, mysterious and uplifting. Even the less successful paintings, which Robert Nevil dismissed, have some vestige of this power. His patrons in Amsterdam couldn’t bear his ‘messy’ technique. They thought he was going blind. But never did anyone see more clearly. These portraits are paintings. You can see the paint, even when the paint exactly catches a fur collar or velvet cloth. In some cases the subjects are afflicted by the paint: the gouged, lurid paint that makes their faces is their suffering and accumulation of years. They are wrenched open, brought near to destruction by Art which also saves them.

When we reached the end, Robert Nevil expressed a wish to revise the Exhib. We surged back through the now-empty rooms to the beginning and then swept through putting labels on the works we wanted. RN liked a drawing (possibly an etching) of some trees that was so transporting. You felt you were there amongst 17th century Dutch trees.

Andrew Marr was robed and in the sanctuary i.e. present at the exclusive evening viewing of the Exhib. I forgot to mention that I saw Lady Freelove the day before in the National Portrait Gallery restaurant where I went to see Grayson Perry’s intermittent works showing our Nation. They are scattered through the existing galleries. Quite nice. Lady Freelove’s back hair looked a bit bashed about. I’m sure something can be done.



Posted Friday, November 28, 2014 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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