|Thomas Gainsborough, Mr & Mrs Andrews 1750|
|John Constable, Chain Pier, Brighton 1826-7|
Back to the show, which began with informative sections on Rubens, Claude, Gainsborough, Constable and Turner. There was a lovely part in which Ralph Steadman satirized Rubens' 1620 painting, 'Landscape with St George and the Dragon'; he was one of several contemporary artists featured in the show and in general their views and visions were illuminating.
|Holman Hunt, Our English Coasts 1852|
As if to confirm the deadly effect of Victorian values and aspirations on our visual culture, the show lost its way at this point. We had Will Self - who has rescued many a documentary - talking about Hampstead Garden Suburb for reasons that aren't immediately clear, and we had Peter York extolling the virtues of the dreadful Atkinson Grimshaw (was this ironic or populist?)... Why include this stuff and not mention Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, or JM Whistler, or... The list is long.
|Atkinson Grimshaw, Going Home at Dusk 1882|
|Paul Nash, The Battle of Britain 1941|
And then there was David Hockney, who stole the show with his iPhone drawings. You don't need a glass of water, the great man pointed out. There's no mess. You can draw a sunset at 6am and send it to twenty people by 7. You do need an iPhone (other brands also available), but nobody seemed interested in making that point.