Does anyone know the subject/date/artist of this painting?

It’s turned up a couple of times on the icanhascheezburger network, but of course, they don’t provide any background information on the artwork.

It’s clearly mid-late 18th century, and she is clearly an important royal, but other than that I’m at a loss.  I feel I have seen it before, but I can’t quite place where.

The outfit is fascinating and I’d love to be able to research it a bit further.  The elaborately decorated skirt (is it painted or embroidered?), the portrait on her wrist, the fichu at the neckline – so many pretty details begging to be seen and examined!

Any information is much appreciated!

Friday Review: Beloved at the DPAG

Beloved: Works from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery 12 Dec 2009-30 Oct 2011

What it is: An exhibition on favourite works from the DPAG’s collections, ranging from Medieval madonnas, through NZ classics such as Goldie, right up to contemporary mixed-media sculpture.

As a bit of background, you should know that DPAG has an amazing art collection which includes a fantastic selection (probably the best in a NZ museum) of European art, including such costuming favourites as Gainsborough, Tissot, and a selection of Pre-Raphaelite  artists.

The DPAG is also a beautiful museum: easy to navigate, elegantly designed, well situated, and eminently suitable for displaying art.

Not surprisingly, I was extremely excited about having the opportunity to visit and to see the Beloved exhibition.

The Good: All my favourite artworks were on display: the Tissot, the Gainsborough, the Reynolds, the Monet, the Forbes (if the direct links don’t work, search by artist last name), as well as some less well known charmers, and some more challenging modern art (do check out the Don Driver).

The Bad: The exhibition ran into the usual problem seen with ‘favourites’ exhibitions: too broad a scope of artworks, not enough of each kind of artwork to provide flow throughout the exhibition.

The curators chose to hang the ‘blockbusters’ (Goldie, Angus and Machiavelli) at the entrance to the exhibition, and then attempted to group other artworks thematically.  This met with limited success: the Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts works  were confined to an odd corner in the same room as the modern sculpture, the plastic tentacles of one leering at the shocked goddesses in the other.

The Ugly: Electric orange and red and blue walls.

White walled museums are considered rather old-fashioned and boring, especially among NZ museums, which tend to be very forward thinking and innovative.  There is a reason that so many paintings are displayed against neutral walls though: they look good.  Even the very avant-garde Te Papa compromised and used pale greys and pastels when displaying exhibitions of Constables and Impressionists.

DPAG, however, decided it was time to push the envelope further.  They picked really, really, bright, saturated colours for the walls in the Beloved exhibition.  Occasionally it works: Goldie’s All’e Same t’e Pakeha (1905) stands up to its red background magnificently, the hyper-realism of Goldie an excellent foil to the demanding wall.

Alas, most of the other artworks could not hope to compete.  The 18th century art, in particular, receded into insignificance against the blinding orange of the walls: the elegant women and scholarly men defeated by the vivid tones.

Turners and Gainsborough struggle to stand out*

On the bright side (no pun intended), this meant that in order to see and appreciate the artworks, one needed to get close enough to them so that they were the only thing in your field of vision, encouraging an close perusal of each work.  In most cases this was fabulous: the Gainsborough portrait of the Countess Talbot, in particular, is exquisite up close, and DPAG very obligingly doesn’t have any barriers between the audience and the artwork.  In some cases however, the artworks needed to be viewed from a distance to get the full effect, and this was ruined by the overly-strong backgrounds.

The verdict:  DPAG had an idea, they tried something brave, it might have been a master stroke, but it just didn’t work.  Despite the drawbacks, if you are in Dunedin, you should see the exhibition.  It’s free, it’s in the centre of town, and the works, taken individually, are incomparable.  However, I’m  still holding out for an opportunity to see all of my beloved artworks without competition from the walls and other, less amicable, pieces.

*DPAG has extremely strict photography rules, so this was the only image I got permission to take.

Road trip!

This is what we did on our road trip:

Spent a lot of time in a small car (yep, 5 adults and all their stuff in that car)

Tents on the top

Once it even sort of broke down:

The Sewphist looks pitiful and hopes someone will help

There was a lot of singing and joking and car games, and yes, sleeping:

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Sometimes we went on hikes:

Flowers and trampers in the mountains

We headed way off the beaten track:

This is where we didn't take the rental car

We even had to ford the occasional stream:

Cold wet feet

After all this exertion, it’s no surprise that we got tired and needed more naps:

Zzzzzzzzzzz...

Lots and lots of naps…

I'll just lie here now...ok?

To keep our energy up, we ate lots of food.  Some of it was good for us.

Nom nom organic fruit

Most of it wasn’t:

Nom nom ice cream

More than anything, we posed for pictures:

Brrrr...it's cold in here!

Hell-o gorgeous!

Yes, I'm beautiful. So is the scenery.

And took pictures:

Cameras at the ready

Lots of lots of pictures:

Hold still waterfall!

And then there was the random stuff that is hard to explain:

Dear pinecone, I love you

Yeah…about that…

Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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