The birth of our nation in 1776 is late in terms of Art History. Time to leave the USA and head to the homeland of Western Europe.
Day 40: The start of the Big Trip, with a departure to the United Kingdom. I could have started in Italy but two things persuaded me to start in the UK: the lack of a language barrier and the chance that the rest of my trip would be an anti-climax if I started there. So Ireland it is. Which really commences …
Day 41: With tea at the The Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Strong Breakfast Tea. But I don’t think I can handle the Full Irish Breakfast – would they let me have the Half Irish Breakfast? Then on to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin (aka Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann) – where by coincidence there is another Mantegna of Judith with Her Maidservant Abra! And the newest acquisition, William Scott’s Frying Pan, Eggs and Napkin (1950). More breakfast?
Mon – Sat: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm; Thurs: 9:30 am – 8:30 pm; Sun: noon – 5:30 pm
The afternoon begins across Merrion Square at College Green stop (opposite Trinity College Dublin), with Bus 40 (Liffey Valley Shopping Centre) or Bus 13 (Grange Castle) to Old Kilmainham Junction Prospect Terrace – and a short walk to Royal Hospital Kilmainham. I may have to finagle my way in to look for the statue of Judith in the formal garden, since this edifice is now an “event facility.” Perhaps I could arrange a wedding?
Day 42: A short flight to Glasgow (1 hour, 10 min) for the Burrell Collection. The Burrell is in the middle of three golf courses (out of 556 registered courses in Scotland) southwest of the city – reached by train from Glasgow Central station to Pollokshaws West train station and a 10 minute walk. One of the Judith’s in a Foo-Foo Hat by Cranach is at the end of the 9th green. Also not to be missed: Embroidery panel and Sheldon tapestry of Judith. A short ride back to Central station and a half-mile walk gets me to the Blythswood Square Hotel and a hot bath.
Mon-Thurs and Sat: 10 am – 5 pm; Fri-Sun: 11 am – 5 pm
Day 43: The next day moves on to Darlington in England, 3 1/2 hours by train. Check into the Coachman Hotel, then catch Bus 75 & 76 from stand M in Tubwell Row for Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum. While I am anxious to experience the magnificance of Luca Giordano‘s Judith Displaying the Head of Holofernes, I am even more excited to see the famous mechanized Silver Swan from 1773 and described by Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad.
every day: 9 am – 5 pm
Day 44: About 2 hours on the train for the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Not only can I view Judith and Holofernes (c.1600-20) by Grammatica, but also Joseph Wright’s The Alchymist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone (1771). I would bet money Harry Potter has been here, too.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sat: 10 am – 5 pm; Sun: 1 pm – 4 pm
About 45 minutes by rail deposits me in Birmingham’s New Street Station and Macdonald Burlington Hotel, Winston Churchill’s favourite Birmingham hotel.
Day 45: From this central location, I can use the train to University Station and a 5 minute walk to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham – easily spotted by the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. Pellegrini‘s refined Judith resides here, along with Degas’ Dancer Ready to Dance. And 17,000 students. Do you suppose there are any pubs in the vicintity?
Mon-Fri: 10 am – 5 pm; Sat-Sun: 11 am – 5 pm
A stop at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery is also required to see the bronze Judith and Holofernes by Cornacchini – twin to his porcelain in LA. Also the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world (those radicals, I love them).
Mon- Thurs: 10 am – 5 pm; Fri: 10.30 am – 5 pm; Sat: 10 am – 5 pm; Sun: 12.30 pm – 5 pm
Day 46: It takes about 20 minutes to get to Lapworth by train, and a 1 mile walk to Packwood House, a restored Tudor home maintained by the National Trust. Lavishly furnished by Graham Baron Ash, it contains a Sheldon tapestry of Judith.
(mid Feb – Oct) Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 11 am – 5 pm; (Nov – mid Feb) closed
Or I could choose 40 minutes by train to Redditch, home of the Forge Mill Needle Museum. Needle Museum? Yup, it is heritage center for the needle and fishing tackle industries, since Redditch produced 90% of the world’s needles in Victorian times. But my visit is not exactly about needles – only related because Sheldon tapestries were made in Bordesley Abbey after its closure in 1538. And one of those remaining tapestries is Judith.
(Apr-Sept) Mon-Fri: 11am to 4:30pm; Sat-Sun: 11am to 4pm
(Oct-March) Mon – closed; Tues-Fri: 11am to 4pm; Sat-Sun: 1pm to 4pm; (December) closed
From Lapworth, it is about an hour by train to Oxford. I can check into the Macdonald Randolph Hotel and cross the street to the Ashmolean Museum, the world’s first university museum. There resides a statue of Judith by Dieussart, Judith Receiving the Ancients of Bethulia by Veronese, along with the head and one claw of the last Dodo bird (the rest of the bird disintegrated). Of course, I could not leave without exploring the University of Oxford – the oldest university in the English-speaking world. What a coincidence! I studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and it also has a High Street. Hmmmm.
Mon: 10am – 6pm; Tues – Sun: 10 am – 6 pm
Day 47: A late start plus an hour and a half will get me to Bath by afternoon. From The Halcyon, I am hunting down the Holburne Museum and a maiolic dish displayiing Judith by the Picchi brothers. It may be difficult to locate: the original collection of Sir William Holburne numbered about 4,000 objects – and 2,500 objects have been added. Talk about hoarders!
Mon – Sat: 10am to 5pm; Sun: 1am to 5pm
I am also hunting down the Roman ruins in this city. Those should be easy to recognize. And then I can take a nice, warm soak to revive for the next few travel days.
Day 48: Two and a half hours by train from Bath to Bournemouth gives me plenty of time to think about being in “the happiest place in the UK” (according to a 2007 survey). I will be happy to drop my bags at the Royal Bath Hotel, happy to see the English Channel, happy to find the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, and happy to get acquainted with the stunning Judith by Charles Landelle.
Mon – closed (except Bank Holidays); Tues – Sun: 10am – 5pm
Then I will be happy to rest my toes in the sand.
Day 49: One more seaside resort before I hit the city. Portsmouth and the City Museum and Records Office is an hour and a half from Bournemouth. This museum was completely destroyed by WWII bombs and has been rebuilding their collections ever since with significant individual bequests, grant aid and gifts from the Art Fund, the Contemporary Art Society, and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Purchase Fund. Among the Art Fund donations, I am looking for Adam Alzheimer. I suspect his Judith will stand out from all the maritime artwork.
(April – Oct) Mon – closed (except Bank Holidays); Tues – Sun: 10am to 5.30pm
(Nov – March) Mon – closed (except Bank Holidays); Tues – Sun:10am to 5.00pm
I would take a boat up the Thames to London if I could, but looks like a train will take me 2 hours to Charing Cross. I scoped out the Haymarket Hotel off Trafalgar Square – a good location for skipping around town. the Big City beckons.