Dramatic love stories from past centuries are reviewed at the Hermitage Amsterdam ★★★★☆


Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh by an unknown photographer, 1937 (left). Anna Maria Jenkins and Thomas Jenkins by Angelica Kauffmann, 1790.Statue National Portrait Gallery London

On May 19, 2018, photographer Alexi Lubomorski captured a celebratory group portrait titled “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and family.” The occasion was the prince’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle. These days, attention is primarily drawn to Harry’s sitting grandparents: Philip and Elizabeth. Charles and stepmother Camilla stand next to Harry. Meghan’s mother stands next to her daughter. Lubomirski was also the photographer for what was called the official engagement portrait, an intimate embrace of the couple six months earlier, where the ring on Meghan’s finger was the real attention-getter. The couple’s love has weathered some storms, but this particular family, the Windsors, proved, more often than not, able to withstand this union. The family portrait now looks like a horror scene Go out-school. Black family ends up in the whitest of all strongholds; nothing but pain and sorrow can be the result.

The two photographs by court photographer Lubomirski are part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London and are part of the interesting traveling exhibition Love stories, which after a number of American museums has now ended up in the Hermitage Amsterdam (see box). For this exhibition, the Hermitage also collaborated with the Dutch National Portrait Gallery, so that a large number of Dutch works can also be seen. With such a thematic setup, the anecdotes and life stories of the people portrayed are sometimes more compelling than the works themselves (paintings, photography and a single video piece), but take your time, because here are some of the dramatic love stories of recent times. centuries in review.

The concept of love is here the collective term that includes not only great romantic love, but also the obsession with the muse or the doomed or forbidden love (with, for example, the famous portrait of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas). The theme links eras from the 17th century to the present and artists and photographers as diverse as Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Lee Miller (1907) and David Hockney (1937). With as one of the highlights Anna Maria Jenkins and Thomas Jenkins by Angelica Kauffmann from 1790, in which the wealthy banker Thomas introduces his niece Anna Maria to society in a pastoral landscape, as a prelude to her desired marriage.

One of the most intriguing stories concerns the two portraits of the young actress Ellen Terry (dated 1864) and her much older husband, the painter George Frederic Watts (1860), who felt he had to save her from the fall that was the theater off. to marry at sixteen. That portrait of young Ellen Terry in her wedding dress by her new husband is nothing short of terrifying, as if she were held captive in paint. Life as a professional muse was unbearable for the young woman, and she quickly left her husband and returned to the theater, where she had a brilliant career. Watts’ somber self-portrait now hangs next to his portrait of the escaped muse.

Special focus on one of the exhibition’s most idiosyncratic works, a very different kind of museship or obsession, if you will: in 2004, film director and video artist Sam Taylor-Johnson made the film David. David Beckham, then one of the most admired people in sport and more, is filmed sleeping for an hour in his hotel room in Madrid after training with Real Madrid. Is this about Sam’s (a woman by the way) admiration for David, about David’s vain admiration for David who agreed to this art project, or is it about the public who can now – so to speak – unnoticed queue up against this sleeper ? ? As a contrast, look up the moving portrait of the young Johan Cruijff and his wife Danny, captured by an ‘unknown photographer’ in their bedroom in 1968. A Cruijff expert in the newsroom quickly solved the mystery of this so-called unknown photographer. The picture was taken by the German photographer Metelmann for the magazine kicker. Also pay attention to Cruijff’s dirty socks and feel the love flow.

Love stories – art, passion and tragedy

Visual art

★★★★ clean

Hermitage Amsterdam, until 8/1.

Love stories – art, passion and tragedy is the first major exhibition of the Hermitage Amsterdam, since the break with the museum in Saint Petersburg due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The exhibition largely consists of the traveling exhibition Love Stories, which displays more than a hundred works from the National Portrait Gallery in London. The museum in the heart of London is currently undergoing restoration, making their masterpieces available. The museum on the Amstel will operate under the name Hermitage Amsterdam until at least spring 2023. New plans and collaborations with foreign parties will then be announced. And it may contain a new name, says director Annabelle Birnie.

Leave a Comment