Treasures from Budapest

You could easily use this delightful exhibition at the Royal Academy as an introduction to Western art (until the First World War). There are notable absences - the Dutch from the sixteenth & seventeenth centuries being the most prominent which given they were struggling for and then affirming their independence from the Hapsburgs (at the core of these Hungarian collectors) this is understandable. There is, also, the absence of the geographical periphery - England, Russia and Scandinavia - but we will forgive them!

It is a selection of a consistently high quality which though (as always) I was drawn to 'my' period (1890-1940) contained much else besides to admire; not least those artists 'under represented' in galleries to which I have usual access. So the two Goya's were marvellous to see:

This 'The Knife Grinder' was one of the two. He is a painter of fabulous realism - each figure has a solid integrity, a humanity that is uniquely theirs, and it is utterly affirmed. Its violation, as in Goya's extraordinary paintings of suffering and war, is a wrenching, breakdown of order, precisely because that ordering is rooted in a universe that is a woven weft of unique particulars. In that affirmation, he is both very evocative of a modern man (the individual's rights) and a very traditional one as it a vision rooted in Goya's Christian humanism.

After the joy of being 'carded' in the US, I was sold by 'accident' a senior citizens ticket for this rapidly we move from youth to age!


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