Monday, 29 October 2012

My mother said...

My mother came to London for the day
and we did a whistlestop tour
of the National Gallery.
So much to see, so little time.

The Arnolfini Portrait
Jan van Eyck 1434

First stop the Arnolfini portrait
to contemplate "the iconography,
the inverted reflection of space
and unusual orthogonal perspective."*
She said "It's smaller than I expected"

*Thanks, Wikipedia.

Wilton Diptych
about 1395-9

In the next gallery
we admired the luminous white hart
in the Wilton Diptych.
She said "It's painted with egg! Imagine!"

St George and the Dragon
Paolo Uccello (1397 - 1475)

We agreed that the slender maiden
looked rather annoyed with George
for hurting her pet dragon.
She said "She reminds me of MissM.
Send her my love.
And MasterM, of course!"

Venice : Piazza San Marco
Canaletto (1697 - 1768)

I showed my mother the Canalettos
and told her we were off to Venice.
She said "Do you remember that time
when I sang in St. Marks?"

A Basket of Roses
Ignace-Henri-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836 - 1904)

We both tried to buy secret presents
for each other in the gift shop.
My mother bought me a tiny handbag mirror
with Fantin Latour roses on the back.
She said "I always think of you
when I see old fashioned roses."

and then it was time to leave
and go to Paddington station
where I hugged her
and she got on the train to Cornwall.


all images © The National Gallery, London
visit their wonderful website
The National Gallery


  1. A day with one's mother, is a day like no other.

  2. That's a big journey just for the day. But it sounds like it was worth it.

  3. Loved the "smaller than expected" comment. I remember being blown away by the sheer size of Seurat's "The Bathers". I have never forgotten it. What a lovely post of treasured moments Alice.

  4. Look, I took my mom to Capri last week (as winter hadn't shown up YET) and we had a wonderful day on boat trips, Mount Solaro where the view spreads all the way to Positano, Sorrento, Napoli and Ischia, the lovely smaller grottoes like the Grotta Bianca with its Madonna shaped stalagmite ...
    A day with your mum, wondering around beauties has no price!

  5. Such special moments when you live so far apart

  6. should point out for Ali's benefit that this was not a one day visit but a brief interlude in a grand tour of siblings and children and covered visits to Cheltenham, Bourton-on-the-Water, Saffron Walden, Cambridge and Bristol.
    Grand tour for a Grand Dame !!

  7. You're so right about the fair maiden with dragon. She looks as if she's saying, "Did you really have to do that?"

  8. Just realized, the grass is a stylized skull. Medieval weirdness at its best!

  9. Do you know the poem by U A Fanthorpe 'Not my best side' about the characters in the Ucello St George and the Dragon? I recommend it.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. (Sorry about the deleted comment...stumbling fingers on keyboard this morning!)

    What I wanted to say:

    It seems especially precious to me that you and your mother have such a lovely relationship and can enjoy sharing time together.

    And I would love to hear more about the time your mother sang in St. Mark's!


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