Last year I adventured to Eltham Palace and saw the home Deco home of the Courtaulds. You can read about the history of their home here. Ever since going there I have wanted to get to see the gallery that bears their name situated within Somerset House off The Strand in the heart of theatre land.
I finally managed this last Tuesday and what a pleasant and lovely surprise it was. The staff were helpful and unlike the national gallery it was lovely to walk around without feeling like big brother was watching your every move. It was also lovely that there was a locker area so that you can walk around without holding bags and coats. Also its free to all with an Art Fund Card.
The first room on the ground floor was delightful. It was full of renaissance religious objects. It felt like I was in one of the small museums in Italy rather than off the strand London. A display of Islamic silver also rivalled some of the pieces in the V&A.
The second floor was a delight of French and British art including one of my favourite paintings A Bar At The Folies Bergere, Manet 1881-82. The clothing, the reflection in the mirror behind the bar maid, the atmosphere all strikes up late 19th century France for me.
The top floor, held a temporary exhibition that didn’t really do anything for me however the British painters including several paintings by Walter Sickert were interesting, the images of naked women by Sickert were so detailed and voyeuristic, I can understand why people thought he MAY have been Jack the Ripper. The more modern art left me cold, my preferences definitely are more early and traditional paintings.
Unfortunately Somerset house was gearing up and preparing for London fashion week, but I shall enjoy revisiting when there are no riggers and mayhem going on.
Now that I have found this hidden gem I shall be heading back to see what other treasures I can find.