Today, I rush to the National Gallery and I like what I see there. Trafalgar Square itself, Nelson’s Needle, the crowds populating this famous public space, it’s all the more enjoyable because I am able to hide from it in the great fantasies of Monet, van Gogh, and Degas soon.
Van Gogh’s sunflowers is a picture that naturally disappoints me (since it had been the very reason to visit London), but I like the the chair right beside it, the one on the painting I mean, not the one seating the bored museum guard. For the record, I make a list of paintings that I really enjoy:
- Caravaggio – Head of John the Baptist
- Turner – Temeraize
- le Brun – Mme. Brongart
- Pisarro – Portrait of Félix Pisarro
- Renoir – Umbrellas
- Manet – Execution of Maximillian
- Monet – St. Lazare and Grenouillière
- van Gogh – Chair and Cypress wheatfield
- Picasso – Child with a dove
- Degas – Combing the hair
- Cézanne – Grandes baigneuses
- Dürer – Painter’s father (1497)
- Hobbema – Avenue of Middelharnis
- Rembrandt – Hendrikje Stoffels
The National Gallery is huge. Soon, I find myself cannonballing along endless galleries, and the paintings blend together into a colorful stream of figures with their religious or mundane attributes, like they had some ten years ago, when I flew through the galleries of the Prado in Madrid.
I walk toward Piccadilly Circus because, well, it is a famous place and I like the sound of its name. Chillies, Dill, Pickles, Lelies, Picasso, Cadillac, there is a cloud of very tasty and lofty associations in my mind. I buy bread ‘n cheese, sit down with it at the statue, watching a child playing with the attention he gets.
Next is Covent Garden, a lively market. My Turkish friend will later tell me she had worked just here. There are street shows (a knight offering his sword to the youngest children, a headless man beckoning, a plant man who stood apart sadly and didn’t get much attention, and a bald entertainer forming a ‘boyband’ which was of course the most popular event). I hear German and Dutch on every corner and realize how close I am to Germanic mainland as a result of irresponsibly dirt cheap airfares. There we go! A sneer at the polluter.
This is a beautiful city, described surely in much more eloquent terms than mine, but let me mention at least the small cobblestone streets coming together at little squares with classic pubs, and their larger counterparts the large boulevards touching each other in the large Circusses.