Just a quick one, while I prepare myself for the mighty effort of writing about the three day National Conservatism conference in London that I attended almost until the last session. And there is a lot to say, some of it serious.
But on day two of NatCon and feeling the need to escape, I walked down Marsham Street, took a left and found myself at the side entrance to Tate Britain. The Tate is an old friend but as I get older I seem to understand the art better.
Anyway, it also houses the painting I love the most. One of the great roustabout British artists of the early 20th century was Augustus John , who my officer grandfather used to go drinking with on the King’s Road when he was based at Chelsea barracks. Augustus was a big, big character and a genuine celebrity.
But my favourite picture is by Augustus’s sister, Gwen, who was naturally far less celebrated, never went drinking with my grandfather and whose work for a long time was far less appreciated than her brother’s. As womens’ art wasn’t. For me this self-portrait has all the connective power of a Rembrandt. I feel that I really see her and that she also sees me, that we are about to have a conversation. And for some reason it hits me in the heart. What do you think? And what’s your favourite?
Notes from the Underground with David Aaronovitch is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Lovely painting., We spent a delightful day there last year during our 'post-COVID' big trip home.. The central halls were vibrant with post-colonial colourful excess. And I communed on my own with a room full of Moore's women. I wrote about it here. https://www.dougieherd.com/post/coming-at-the-world-through-its-side-doors hope you're well. Dougie
There’s currently a brand new Gwen John exhibition at Pallant House gallery in Chichester, where she has sole billing. I’m really looking forward to it.