Exhibition of the week
A constellation of engrossing portraits by this great Dutch artist focuses attention on the Wallace Collection’s most charismatic treasure, his masterpiece The Laughing Cavalier.
• Wallace Collection, London, 22 September to 30 January.
A revolutionary rethink by coordinator Yinka Shonibare turns this often staid affair into an unmissable survey of world art now.
• Royal Academy, London, 22 September to 2 January.
Eerie exercises in late-Victorian gothic and Edwardian noir by a brilliant painter fascinated with sex and death.
• Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 18 September to 27 February.
Duncan Grant: 1920
Joyous paintings of nature, mythology and desire by the most gifted artist in the Bloomsbury Group.
• Charleston, East Sussex, 18 September to 13 March
A baroque genius whose flowing sculptures decorate some of Britain’s grandest buildings gets close scrutiny.
• Compton Verney, Warwickshire, 25 September to 30 January.
Image of the week
A long-cherished dream by Christo to wrap Paris’s landmark Arc de Triomphe is being realised. The €14m project has been funded by the sale of sketches, models and other works by the late artist, who died in May 2020.
What we learned
Masterpiece of the week
Women Bathing in a Landscape, Cornelis van Poelenburgh, c 1630
We all dream of a bit of sunshine. In early 17th-century Netherlands, as rain fell on the polders, many painters headed on what was then a dangerous trek to sunny Italy. Van Poelenburgh was from Utrecht, a city whose artists were particularly partial to a glass of chianti. Or more precisely, Utrecht was and is a Catholic city, which stuck with the old religion while other Dutch towns went Protestant. So Van Poelenburgh, Gerrit van Honthorst and other Utrecht artists felt comfortable in Papal Rome where they learned from Guido Reni and Caravaggio.
In this painting, done after he got home to Utrecht, Van Poelenburgh distils the glamour of Italy. Women bathe naked among ancient Roman ruins under a gold-tinged sky. It’s the same idyll of a Mediterranean arcadia that would seduce later northern artists from Turner to Matisse. O for a cup of the warm south.
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