Exhibition of the week
Turner and Bonington
Two great artists of the Romantic age go head-to-head in this comparison of their intense watercolour landscapes.
• Wallace Collection, London, 20 September to 21 April
The Leisure Centre
Painter Glenn Brown opens his own gallery with a show about the nature of leisure and pleasure, setting his own ironic oils against artists he collects, from Fantin-Latour to Gillian Wearing.
• The Brown Collection, London, until 3 August 2024
Mantegna: The Triumphs of Caesar
This major treasure of the Royal Collection goes on display for two years among the National Gallery’s Renaissance paintings.
• National Gallery, London, from 18 September
The story of a fashion icon and maker of the modern world.
• V&A, London, 16 September until 25 February
Colour Revolution: Victorian Art, Fashion and Design
Not so drab and dour after all? This show claims to reveal the groovy psychedelic side of the Victorians.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 21 September to 18 February
Image of the week
Chris Ofili’s Requiem fresco is a huge memorial to the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, depicting a flaming building, fleeing souls and an ocean of tears. It occupies three walls surrounding a stairwell in Tate Britain, and will be there for the next 10 years. He told us he wants the work to hit people in the gut.
What we learned
Masterpiece of the week
Paul Rubens, The Rape of the Sabine Women, probably 1635-40
History is violence and its victims are women in this haunting recreation of ancient Rome. In the early days of Rome – according to its historians, who were telling tales of a semi-legendary past – there was a shortage of women, so the super-masculine Roman warriors went out to kidnap wives for themselves from a neighbouring tribe, the Sabines. Rubens imagines a grand classical city with columns, arches and domes receding to a tranquil blue sky while mayhem happens in the foreground. Yet the woman in the centre of the action wears a 17th-century dress and raises her clasped hands in Christian prayer. It’s a telltale clue that Rubens is thinking of his own time as much as antiquity. His city, Antwerp, had been brutally sacked. He warns against unleashing the kind of irrationality and savagery that was all too common in his world.
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