Time to kill, so off to the National Gallery

A retro-blog by Pat the Chooks
Friday, 23rd June 2006
Never too sure about how long it will take to get to the airport from London, I’d booked a flight at 2050 back to Glasgow. With the meeting finishing at half-past two, I had the choice of going to the airport in the (vain) hope of blagging an earlier flight with the probability of spending six hours there if I couldn’t. So, only one real choice; to soak up a little culture.
It was about twenty years since I’d last been anywhere near the National Gallery, but I decided that was the place to go; after all, it’s not that often I have time to kill in London these days. Headed off to the Sainsbury Wing and spent a couple of hours wandering around the jewels of the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries. There were a couple of guided parties of schoolchildren in as well, so there were plenty of adult visitors unashamedly listening to the guides as they discussed and explained the paintings.

After I while I decided to browse elsewhere, and found myself in amongst the Flemish paintings, where I found this wonderful painting by Willem Kalf. The image on the National Gallery’s website doesn’t so the painting justice; this is a lobster so real that it appears three-dimensional; the illusion of the painter’s work is complete, I could easily have taken the image for a photograph. Okay, I’m getting to that time of life where some reading glasses would really come in handy, but this painting just blew my socks off for technical artistry. Even the reflections in the silver salver looked indistinguishable from nature. Perhaps the illusion worked because the artist had tricked the viewer’s brain to think that it was photographic and therefore we perceive the effect to be so and fill-in the details we would expect from such an image. Who knows, but it worked for me.


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