Architectural Drawings and Drawings of Architecture.

•April 17, 2012 • 2 Comments


William Harvey.  Drawing of the Alahmbra.

John Frederick Lewis


Oscar Neiymeyer.  Plan of Brasilia.

People who live there, or have visited, say that Brasilia has a great vibe.  In photographs though, Brasilia appears to be a vast and unappealing concrete jungle. I find it unsettling that a city is designed in the formation of a cold and functional machine. It is as though a statement is being made that the machine has begun to dominate man. On the other hand, airplanes symbolise freedom, and new horizons, but then again so do birds, and goats (in my opinion).

Brasilia was designed largely by Lucio Costa, Oscar Neiymeyer, and Roberto Burle Marx, and the entire city was built between 1956-1960. Incredibly Oscar Neiymeyer continues to work today despite being 105 years old!  His work has shaped 8 decades of Brazilian architecture.  Whether that is a good thing or not is a matter for debate, but either way he has certainly made himself a national institution.’s-work-continues-to-enchant-and-appall-students-of-architecture-and-urban-planning/


Sir Edwin Lutyens.


Altar for the Temple of the Spirit (Sketch for the creation of an altar at the Institute of Kinetics) 1969-70 by Lev Nussberg and Natalia Prokuratov.


Project: Transferring Cultural Heritage with New Technology.  Funded by the EU.


Leonardo da Vinci.

Surely the best draughtsman in the history of art.

Oscar Neimeyer.

George Aitchison. 1895. Leighton House.

Thomas Daniell. Hindoo Temples at Bindrabund. 1797.  Oil on Canvas. Royal Acadamey of Art, London.

I had the fortune to see a number of Thomas Daniell’s paintings in Delhi last month and was impressed.  The canvases were much larger than I had anticipated and the compositions delicate.  Daniell has a masterful understanding of light as can be seen in the work above.  He painted numerous works featuring Indian temples which were at the time appreciated for their ‘exoticism’ but are now valuable not only for their beauty but also as records of important monuments which in some cases have disappeared, or have been overly renovated, or are simply looking much the worst for wear.


Roma, Accademia di San Luca


Adam Hardy.  Indian Temple Superstructure.


Drawing of the Sarcophagus in Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Aside from being a brilliant architect, John Soane (1753-1837) was a collector and an highly eccentric individual.  His home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, which he bequethed to the nation as a museum, is a wonderful, worthwhile place to visit.  The way in which he has played with light and darkness using windows, skylights, and stained glass is fascinating, and manages to transform a living space into an experience.  He even created a dark and eerie crypt in the basement which is pictured above.


Andrea Palladio


Frederick J Parkinson


Roma, Accademia di san Luca





Helen Hyde

•April 13, 2012 • 2 Comments


Helen Hyde (1868-1919) was born in New York, and studied art at the Californian School of Design.  She then moved to Berlin where she studied under Franz Skarbina, and after a year moved on to Paris where she trained with Felix Regamay.

Regamay owned an extensive collection of Japanese prints, and these, along with her admiration for the work of Mary Cassatt, encouraged her to explore the Japonism movement.  In 1899 Helen Hyde moved to Tokyo where she resided until 1913.  There she studied Japanese painting techniques and woodblock printing.  She had a fiercely independent and adventurous spirit.  Though from a wealthy family she chose to provide for herself in her adulthood through her printmaking, and was successful in her endeavours.  She never married or had children, despite her artwork being almost entirely populated by mothers with their offspring.

Helen Hyde is little known in England though several American museums and galleries exhibit her work.  She certainly deserves more recognition on this side of the Atlantic for her unique and gorgeous compositions. Printmakers though, rarely if ever, attain the fame of painters in oil.  Hyde’s work merges the delicate colouring, and neat, stylised lines of Japanese prints, with the warmth and playful qualities of the European Impressionist movement.  The results are delightful.

Tang Dynasty.

•April 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Seated Musician.

The imperial Tang dynasty  (618-907) is often said to be the Golden Age of Chinese art. Not being an expert on China, I am in no position to debate this claim but all I know is that I have become hopelessly enamoured with the chubby forms and contented, comical expressions typical of many Tang sculptures. I have never before thought that it could be possible to make a terracotta look cuddly, and since terracotta is my speciality this is a revelation. Even the hardest, most resilient of hearts could not fail to be moved by the round cheeks of the figurine from the Shanghai Museum.

The capital of the Tang dynasty was Chang’an (Xi’an) located in Central China and was at the time, the most populous city in the world. Trade and cultural exchange with India and the Middle East helped the arts to develop and flourish. Buddhism became important in China during this period, and a Nepalese influence might be seen in the British Museum painting, and in a couple of the Buddha or Bodhisattva sculptures below. The pieces selected here are made from a wide variety of materials including marble, jade, stone, terracotta, wood and pigment, paint, and bronze.

Dancing figurines. 7th-8th Century.

Shanghai Museum

One of a set of ten belt plaques carved from jade. 7th-8th Century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Head of a Buddha. V&A Museum, London.

British Museum.

Standing Female Attendant. Wood with pigment.  Late 7th Century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Standing Court Lady. 7th Century.

For anyone who loves Rajasthan: Bundi Palace

•April 12, 2012 • 1 Comment

Sitting in a restaurant that evening we overheard a customer guilelessly telling the local waiter how VERY disappointed he was with the palace.  He has a point, but perhaps he could not see beyond the ramshackle and barren state of the building.  Today the external architecture is the most outstanding and attractive feature of the palace and makes for a dramatic sight positioned high on a hill, dwarfing the small town below.

The interior is in a state of semi abandonment, and presumably no one knows what to do with such a massive structure and how to pay for conservation.  Monkeys and bats now reside in rooms once belonging to kings. However, the many murals which decorate the private quarters are said to be the finest in Rajasthan and despite fading rapidly they are still exquisite, highly detailed, and full of entertaining stories depicting rulers and gods, Krishna in particular.

The first part of the palace was built by Rao Balwant Singh in 1580, and each of his successors made substantial additions to the building, resulting in a very large and charming hotch potch of styles sitting alongside each other with ease.

For me the highlight of our visit to Bundi, aside from seeing the murals, was dining on a roof terrace each night, overshadowed by the palace, lit up, and extraordinarily magical against the warm night sky.




















Highlights from the Musée Guimet, Paris.

•April 12, 2012 • 9 Comments


Statue of Jayavarman VII, 12th Century, Khmer (Cambodia).


Rina Banarjee Exhibition, “Take me, Take me…  to the Palace of Love” 2003


Detail from a Japanese Screen (1733-1795) exhibited in 2008 at the “Peinture Japonaise au Musée Guimet”


Hokusai (1760-1849)


“Dakini” from Tibet, 18th Century.


Bronze Buddha, Thailand. 8th Century.


Ancient gold and turquoise earrings found in the burial site of a Bactrian nomad. Afghanistan. Circa 6th Century BC.


Felix Regamay


“Shiva Nataraja” (Lord of the Dance), Chola Period Bronze, c.10th Century. Tamil Nadu, India.


Detail from a vase entitled: “A Thousand Flowers”.  Southern China, Qing Dynasty (1736-1795).


Plate XIV. “Bamboos in Monochrome” WU CHÊN Yüan Period.


“Women Playing a Game” Attributed to Hokusai or to his son, 1800-1805.

Ray Morimura

•September 7, 2011 • 1 Comment

Ray Morimura (b.1948) is a Japanese artist from Tokyo who works mostly with wood block prints.  His work has a stylish art deco air about it, but with a contemporary twist.   I particularly like the way in which he juxtaposes linear and rounded designs, lending the prints a sense of softness and depth.  He also creates a feeling of vastness by portraying certain elements of a picture very small and others very large, for example in the print below, the women are tiny and slender with stick like legs, and in comparison the trees above them seem dauntingly high.  In fact we never even see the tree tops.  Thus, nature in Morimura’s work, appears both beautiful and threatening, with a fairy tale feel to it.  The artist draws us very close to nature, for example, in his print depicting hydrangeas, the flowers seem to envelope and almost dwarf the temple in the background. The same can be said for the gorgeous image above, where the lilac wisteria dominates the picture, creating a frame for the small palace in the distance. The effective print of a snow covered tree lined avenue with a black cat has evidently been inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s illustration for one of his Just So stories.

l can’t help feeling that the three wonderful works below are inspired by one of my favourite childhood stories ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’.  Each night after bedtime the princesses escape from the palace and pass through three enchanted forests, one made of glass, one of silver, and one of gold. They  reach a lake where a magical ball takes place and they spend the whole night dancing.  The king is confused because every morning, when the tired princesses are ‘woken’ their shoes are ruined.  The king sends a soldier to follow the girls, when he discovers what they have been up to, the soldier is given the youngest daughter in marriage and it all ends happily ever after…

Rudyard Kipling

A Visual Feast.

•September 6, 2011 • 5 Comments

The PhD has been keeping me rather too busy.  Something had to give and it was this blog. But meanwhile I have still been collecting pictures that inspire and delight, and continue to visit exhibitions and trawl through auction catalogues and art books. Here is an eclectic assortment of recent ‘finds’, from the bright, sunny paintings of John Craxton, to sumptuous Afghani tribal jewellery displayed at a recent, and rather wonderful British Museum exhibition.  My particular favourites from this collection are the stylish and lyrical works by Japanese artist Ray Morimura whom I shall be dedicating a post to shortly.