Monday, November 12, 2012

British Museum - Lion hunt and Fearful Folly

We had an outing at the British Museum, and instead of heading straight for the family sandwich room or the cat mummies we went to room 10a to look at the eye poppingly brilliant Assyrian Lion Hunt (645 - 635BC).   The sculpted reliefs depict the sporting achievements of King Ashurbanipal for his palace at Ninevah.  It was wet in Assyria and there were alot of Lions.  Lion fighting was the sport of Kings, although unfairly the lions were brought to the Kings, and fought in an arena.  The reliefs show the events in episodes, so for some, it was like reading a comic.  A comic rendered in beautiful detail, not just the muscles and claws, but the violence and the drama too.    

In the exhibition space, the British Museum's collection of Spanish prints is on display.  I hadn't seen Goya's prints before, and seeing them in the context of an exhibition of his predecessors and contemporaries was enlightening.  Stone lithography was in it's early days as an artistic medium, and some of Goya's experiments didn't quite work, but when he got going with it, he propped his stone on an easel and standing up, used his crayons like brushes, and sometimes he coloured the whole surface of the stone in wax crayon and used just a knife to create the image. He was getting older too, so he often needed a magnifying glass. I thought they were amazing.  Here is an image from Los Disparates series, there are 29.

Fearful Folly from Los Disparates (1815 - 24)

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