Okay, up to this point we’ve done an overall visit of the Have-To’s of London (Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace) on Day 1, the East side of London (Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower Bridge, Tower of London) on Day 2, a nice tour of some parks (Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens) on Day 3, and a Double-Decker bus tour on Day 4. What else could there possibly be???
Day 5 – London – 4/4/2016
Day 5 in London took us to West Ham. We didn’t actually walk around the area much (really all we saw was the West Ham United football stadium), but walking around the area wasn’t the primary purpose of our visit. We were there to see…
The Who Shop
If you know us then you’ll understand why this was an important destination. We considered heading over to Cardiff for a day (where Doctor Who films quite often and a Doctor Who museum is located) but the train ticket was rather expensive.
The Who Shop was pretty interesting even though it was fairly small. It was established in 1984 and had a floor to ceiling array of Doctor Who merchandise both old and new. The most intriguing portion of the shop though…step through the doors of the TARDIS…
…and you’ll find that it’s bigger on the inside. And what’s inside? A fun museum with costumes, props, Daleks, and even a Weeping Angel…
Brittany with a group of Daleks…
And me with a very R2-D2 looking Dalek…
Captain Jack Harkness’s costume (and a swoon)…
We took several more pictures inside of The Who Shop museum. They will be posted soon in our blog dedicated to Brittany’s search of all things Who in Europe.
We left the shop, had some lunch, and headed back to Trafalgar Square so that we could go to the National Gallery museum. (As with all of our photos, clicking on the image will open a new page with a larger version of the image available.)
When we go to museums, if picture taking is allowed, we try not to get in everyone’s way and only try to snap pictures of pieces we find really interesting or pieces that we would like to study later in further detail. The nice thing about being able to take a picture of a piece of art is that you can focus in on a detail you like and then research it later. So these next few images are just a few of pieces that we found interesting.
Now that previous paragraph is all well and good to say, but this first image is just one that we found fun…
Title: An Old Woman (The Ugly Duchess)
Artist: Quinten Massys
Date: about 1513
Info: Oil on oak. Its placard reads, “This picture was probably intended to satirize old women who try inappropriately to recreate their youth.” It further states, “Leonardo da Vinci seems to have been inspired by Massys’s painting.”
Title: The Manchester Madonna
Date: about 1497
Info: Tempera on wood. “In this unfinished painting, the Christ Child indicates a passage in the book held by the Virgin, which one pair of angels contemplates. The other angels study a scroll, perhaps given to them by the young John the Baptist. Book and scroll may carry prophecies of Christ’s future sacrifice. The draperies and the rock plinth are very close to Michelangelo’s earliest sculptures.”
Title: The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist
Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
Date: about 1499-1500
Info: Charcoal and white chalk on paper, perhaps with a brown wash, mounted on canvas. “This large drawing is a cartoon, that is, a full-size preparatory study for a painting. Usually, in order to transfer a design onto a panel, the outlines of cartoons were pricked or incised. This example is intact. It must have been preserved in its own right as a finished drawing, although some areas have deliberately been left inconclusive or in rough outline.” This is probably one of my favorite pieces that we have seen thus far, and we almost missed it. The piece is in its own tiny, very dark room, and the room is labeled something like Leonardo Cartoon. Having taken the word ‘cartoon’ to mean its more common meaning, I almost didn’t go in.
Title: The Virgin and Child
Info: Egg tempera on wood. “The cast shadows and linear perspective reveal a new interest in naturalism. The influence of sculpture on the solidity of the forms is strong.” I liked this piece because it had some of the most unique faces of anything we’d seen, and, as the placard stated, this uniqueness came from a different approach than some of the other things we’d seen from this period.
Title: Two Tax-Gatherers
Artist: Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale
Date: probably 1540s
Info: Oil on oak. “The figure on the left is writing out a list of taxes on items such as wine, beer, and fish. Such tax officials were commonly allowed to retain a percentage of the money they collected, and were criticized for their greed. The picture is probably intended as a warning against avarice.” Again, some things in the museum are breathtaking – just stunning to view, other things are just fun to admire…
Title: Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels
Date: probably 1654-6
Info: Oil on canvas. “Hendrickje Stoffels had entered Rembrandt’s household as a nurse to his young son Titus by 1649. She later became the artist’s mistress. There is no documented portrait of Hendrickje. The identification is based on the informality and the affection with which she is represented.”
Title: Two Followers of Cadmus devoured by a Dragon
Artist: Cornelis van Haarlem
Info: Oil on canvas stuck on oak. “The Delphic oracle told Cadmus to follow a cow and build a town where it fell from exhaustion (Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 3). When the cow dies, Cadmus, intending to sacrifice it, sent men to get water. They were slain by a dragon which Cadmus then killed. He was told to sow its teeth in the ground from which armed men sprang up who fought one another until only five were left. They became the founders of Thebes.” Okay, some pieces are stunning to look at, some are fun, and some are just terrifyingly beautiful and disturbing at the same time. This falls into the latter category.
Title: Self Portrait at the Age of 34
Info: Oil on canvas. “Rembrandt presents himself as wealthy, successful, and confident, in keeping with his position as one of Amsterdam’s leading painters. His pose is taken from Titian’s Man with a Quilted Sleeve, which was then thought to depict the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto. Copying this famous pose was a bold statement that painters were the equals of poets.”
As I said, these are just a few of the wonderful pieces within the National Gallery, and we didn’t even get through the whole thing! The museum closed at 6PM, and we still had a few wings remaining..so we went back the following day. That left us with a bit more exploring to do.
We made another decision before exploring too much further…it was time to buy gel insoles for the salvation of our feet. We’d pretty much been walking the concrete sidewalks of London from about 9 or 10 in the morning to around 11 or 12 at night, and our feet were screaming. With another week to go on our vacation, we thought it best to get some help from Dr. Scholls…good decision.
Sitting down to put the gel into our shoes gave me an opportunity to get a photo of the floating Yoda set up in Trafalgar Square (you’re welcome, Taylor).
New feet…check. Floating Yoda…check. Dinner…hmmm…luckily we had spotted a little Mexican placed called Tortilla near the square. They even have frozen margaritas!
The burrito was Brittany approved…
With no real plans, we headed back to Westminster Abbey to try and get a few night photos. The main gate was closed, but the western entrance (the Great West Door) was still accessible.
Western Façade of Westminster Abbey and the Westminster Column
The towers of the western façade…
In 1998, above the Great West Door, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, unveiled the 20th Century Martyrs. According to the placard at the door, “The ten statues are of individual martyrs; but they are intended to represent all those others who have died (and continue to die) in similar circumstances of oppression and persecution.” From left to right the ten statues represent: St. Maximilian Kolbe, Manche Masemola, Janani Luwum, St. Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, Martin Luther King, Jr., Óscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Esther John, Lucian Taped, and Wang Zhiming. Below these statues, two on either side of the door are: Truth, Justice, Mercy, and Peace.
A view of the western façade and the Westminster Column…
The Westminster Column “is a marble and stone column, erected in 1861 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, which remembers former pupils of Westminster School who died in the Crimean War 1854-56 and the Indian Mutiny 1857-58. At the top is a figure of St George slaying the dragon.” (Westminster-Abbey.org)
Four lions flank the base of the column.
At the corner of Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster is Parliament Square. This green, grass square contains statues of British, Commonwealth, and foreign statesmen. Among the notables: Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Winston Churchill (who is seen looking toward the Elizabeth Tower in the photo).
Here’s a snapshot of Brittany and I in Parliament Square. If you look close, you can see the green fence…renovation was going on…everywhere…
Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), Palace of Westminster, and Victoria Tower
Of course, while we were in the area at night we snapped a few photos of the ‘must-sees.’
The eastern portion of the Palace of Westminster with Elizabeth Tower…
Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster, and Elizabeth Tower from across the Thames River (with the towers of the western façade of Westminster Abbey just right of center). Some of the palace looks distorted…that’s because there’s scaffolding covering those portions.
And we can’t forget the London Eye, which is ever so beautiful at night…
Remember, this thing is 443 feet tall…
I made Brittany stop and take this picture with me. It was actually really, really cold so we headed directly home from here.
Didn’t get enough of the National Gallery on Day 5…well neither did we. Come back with us on Day 6.