I have been to quite a few different exhibitions over the years and I have seen the work of many different artists. There have been a number of memorable pictures for me; for a number of different reasons.
When I saw ‘Madonna on the Rocks’ by Leonardo da Vinci I was pretty much blown away. I can remember being bitterly disappointed as I stood in front of my first Dali picture (‘God, it’s so small in real life!’). And I felt a genuine pang of sadness as I stared at my first Van Gogh landscape. Looking at the notebooks of William Blake made me smile and ‘sculptures’ by Richard Long made me laugh…
However, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen is the Pre-Raphaelite work kept in London, I went when I accompanied my friend last week for moral support as she applied for a varity of inner-city locum doctors jobs. Anyway, when I walked into that hallowed room of the National Gallery and saw pictures by Rossetti, Burn-Jones and Hunt, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
It is easy to forget how these artists had mastered Photo Realism all those years ago, but not only did they achieve it; they surpassed it. The way they created a picture seemed to make everything within it become ‘hyper real’. The amount of detail in their pictures is incredible. If they could have painted the bacteria on the surfaces in their work then they would have done.
I’m not sure how long I spent drooling over the paintings in that room, but they had a lasting effect on me. Seeing work by an artist in a book is one thing, but to see it in the flesh is quite another. However, it was Rossetti’s work which had the greatest impression upon me. Not only was he an absolute master at his craft and able to create pictures of aching beauty; his style was so strong and instantly recognisable.