On Sunday, Danda and a friend and I decided to have a day out ‘up London’. First we visited the Banqueting House, the only remaining part of Whitehall Palace, which was all but destroyed in numerous fires. Banqueting Hall is noteable firstly, because of it’s stunning huge Rubens’ paintings on the ceiling (they are mind-blowing) and for being the place Charles I was taken right before being beheaded. He was walked up the stairs, through the Banqueting House and then out one of the side windows onto a scaffold that had been built for the occasion. It was so strange thinking that a perfectly healthy man had been walked up here, the same direction in which I was walking, knowing that in a matter of minutes, he would have his head chopped off. Wierd.
As you enter the hall, you see people lying all over beanbags on the floor and wonder what on earth is going on. Then you realise that the only way to take in the magnitude of the Rubens’ ceiling is by getting on the floor and filling your entire vision with it. It’s so amazing. Here’s a picture of the hall, to try and do justice to how amazingly historic and beautiful this place is.
Next up, lunch then the Wallace Collection. While heading toward Manchester Square, we spotted a blue plaque so I stopped where I was, turned on my running app on my phone and got my run on. It must be the easiest three plaques I’ve ever got! Within 0.1 miles on a day I wasn’t even looking for them, I found John Hughlings Jackson (neurological physician who lived in the 1800s)….
…Sir Julius Benedict (German composer and conductor)…
…and Alfred, Lord Milner (British statesman who served as the High Commissioner for Southern Africa and also on Lloyd George’s War Cabinet during the First World War).
Next up, the Wallace Collection blew my mind. The art collection there is amazing.
Velazquezs that I’ve only read about, huge Titians that I could have spent hours looking at, Van Dycks that were sombre and exquisite. Danda and friend were sat waiting outside while I wandered about, open-mouthed looking at the bronzes and discovering new fascinating artwork and painters. After a visit from Danda to gently hurry me up, I tried looking more quickly around the rest of the main gallery when I came across something that made me stop, unable to move on.
It was the Laughing Cavalier.
It. Is. Stunning.
Literally. I was stunned.
I don’t know whether it has the same visual impact seeing the photo I took but look at his jacket. Look at the intricacy of the pattern work on that coat. And the way the splits of the material on the arm falls open and shows the folds of the shirt underneath. And that lace cuff and how you can see through it. I can’t even imagine being able to paint like that. I can’t imagine the concentration it takes to complete. I can’t imagine being able to create something so beautiful.
I also love the cavalier’s face. I think he’s terribly handsome (if I was going to have an art crush, it would be on him – and also on Charles I, he’s rather handsome). I just think he looks quite approachable, a little flirty if anything. When I saw him, I found myself grinning back before I realised what I was doing. I then hurriedly checked around and no-one had caught me acting like a wierdo so it was okay.
Forgetting the hurry and Danda and his friend waiting outside, I watched the Laughing Cavalier and basked in wonder at how this amazing piece of artwork had been created. I love how no-one knows who the Laughing Cavalier really is. It means he doesn’t come down to earth with a bang. He doesn’t turn into a real person with a history which might detract from the painting.
Anyway, I’ll stop being all dreamy now!
When I finally left, Danda and his friend had grown bored waiting for me and gone for a wander and found more blue plaques. So I turned on my app, got running and found them. Again, it was ridiculously easy. I only covered 0.2 miles and ticked off another three plaques.
These two were on the same house, eeeeeasy!
Captain Frederick Marryat was a Royal Navy officer, novelist (pioneer of the earliest sea stories) and inventor of Marryat’s Code, a maritime flag signalling system. Also at this address is George Grossmith Jr, who was a (are you ready for this?) British actor, theatre producer and manager, director, playwright and songwriter, best remembered for his work in and with Edwardian musical comedies. If that wasn’t enough, his father was the songwriter and actor, W. S. Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Last but not least, the great Simon Bolivar! I’d had no idea he had a London plaque. I also had no idea that his full name was Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco! He was hugely influential in liberating South American countries from Spanish influence and needs little explanation to realise that his success lead to Bolivia being named after him. If you haven’t already heard of him, go Google him. He’s interesting.
TOTAL MILES RUN – 14.4
BLUE PLAQUE COUNT – 25