Wednesday 29 June 2022

Rene Lalique at the Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Rene Lalique at the Gulbenkian, Lisbon.

The collection comprises almost two hundred pieces purchased by Calouste Gulbenkian directly from Rene Lalique, between 1899 and 1927. The particular focus is the Art Nouveau period.

The eccentricity and fragility of Rene Lalique jewellery made it unwearable for most women of the Belle Epoque, with the exception of some figures from the financial and artistic elite, like the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Calouste Gulbenkian bought them however, to display in showcases in his mansion.

Breathtakingly beautiful, these jewellery pieces dating from the early 20th century perfectly illustrate the jeweller's uniqueness and sense of observation coupled with a highly fanciful imagination.  Lalique is considered to be the inventor of modern jewellery, breaking away from the statuesque and soulless jewellery of the time. Bodice pieces, chokers and combs highlight the originality of materials, never or little used until then in jewellery, such as horn, ivory, translucent enamel, glass and ornamental stones. The delight in exploring the glassy depths of moonstone would later inspire Lalique's research into glass. 

My photographs don't do justice to these extraordinary works: the room was dark and all the pieces were in glass cabinets, so it was very difficult to take decent photographs.


Tuesday 28 June 2022

The Glubenkein Museum - the permanent collection

The Glubenkein Museum, Lisbon  - the permanent collection.

The European art section of the permanent collection includes works from all the major schools. This is a small selection of what we saw.

Edward Burne-Jones, The Bath of Venus, 1888, (watercolour on paper)

Edouard Manet,  Boy Blowing Bubbles, 1867, (oil on canvas)

Pascal-Alphonse-Jean Dagnan-Bouvert, Les Bretonnes au Pardon, 1887, (oil on canvas)

Edgard Degas, Portrait of Henri Michel-Levy, 1878, (oil on canvas)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Camille Monet, 1872-74, (oil on canvas)

Claude Monet, Still Life with Melon, 1872, (oil on canvas)

Claude Monet, The Break-Up of the Ice, 1880, (oil on canvas)

John Singer Sargent, Lady and Child Asleep in a Punt under the Willows, 1887, (oil on canvas)

Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Rena, The Forest of Fontainebleau in the Autumn, 1872, (oil on wood)

Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conyngham, 1824, (oil on canvas)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Quillebeuf, Mouth of the Seine, 1833, (oil on canvas)

Francesco Guardi, The Grand Canal near Rialto Bridge, 1870s, (oil on canvas)

Francesco Guardi, Grand Canal at the Rialto Bridge, 1780-1890, (oil on canvas)

Francesco Guardi, Portico with Figures, 1778, (oil on wood)

Francesco Guardi, The Portico of the Ducal Palace, 1778, (oil on wood)

Francesco Guardi, Architectural Capriccio, 1770-80, (oil on wood)

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Wreck of a Transport Ship, 1810, (oil on canvas)

Francesco Francia, Boogna, 1490, (oil on wood)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon  van Rijn, Self-Portrait, (oil on canvas)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Old Man with a Stick, 1645, (oil on canvas)

Friday 24 June 2022

The Gulbenkian Museum

The Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkiam was set up by the Armenian oil magnate Calouse Gulbenkian  whose legendary art-market coups included the acquisition of works from the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Today the Gulbenkian Foundation has a multi-million-collar budget sufficient to finance work in all spheres of Portuguese cultural life. In this low-rise 1960s complex alone, it runs an orchestra, three concert halls and an attractive open-air amphitheatre.

The complex consists of the brutalist building shown above which hosts the founder's collection; extensive grounds, where the open-air amphitheatre is situated; and a modern building that contains the modern colletion - the modern building is undergoing extensive rebuilding, so, unfortunately,  we were unable to see the modern collection.

Three pools of water are to be found around the entrance to the building

At the back, the cafe is situated 

which affords excellent views of the extensive grounds

We sat here and had a soft drink and then decided to go for a walk around the grounds.

We started with the pond

then up these steps

to a quiet seating area

and then another.

We came upon another cafe, a much quieter one, because I presume, like us, not many people know of its existence

this is a lush, green garden

and a lot of water flows through it.

Lots of bamboo everywhere

Satyricon I, Reuben Nakian, 1981

Getting the foundations ready for a pond

O Munco, Maria Irene Vilar, 1981

We got to the top of the garden, where construction was going on to upgrade the second building, the one where the modern art collection will be exhibited

We took a different path and came upon the amphitheatre

more water further along

Nu de Mulher, Ruy Gameiro, 1933

more bamboo

and water

Nu Feminino, Antonio Duarte, 1960

and we were back where we had started from

but, there was a bit more I wanted to explore, namely, the two majestic trees by the windows of the gallery

During our time in Lisbon I have been fascinated by some of the thick tree trunks we came across, and this is one of them

and here's the other one

This garden of the Gulbenkian is an oasis of peace and calm in a very busy city. 

We enjoyed our visit very much, even though the exhibits were not that inspiring, to me, anyway - the best museums are in the district of Belem, which we visited three times during our 10 day stay in the city.