Review - The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt


Tony Cross had a close encounter of the BP Portrait kind as he walked round The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt exhibition...

The Encounter is a small, but rather delightful exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a series of…well…drawings of a variety of human figures and faces by a myriad of different artists. The Queen has had a dig around in her art collection too and produced some rather wonderful paintings.

The title of the exhibition is a tad misleading as there is only one Leonardo drawing, ‘Study of a Nude Man’ and only ‘A Sheet of Character Studies’ by Rembrandt. So, don’t go expecting swathes of Leonardo or Rembrandt.There are, however, some beautiful drawings here.

I was particularly enamoured of the work from the Carracci Studio. The Carracci cousins – Ludivico, Agnostino and Annibale – founded an art academy in Bologna in the early 1580s. There’s a story the exhibition tells that Annibale’s skill was such that when he and his father were robbed he was able to sketch the faces of the robbers and everyone knew who they were.

The Dürer drawings just help fuel my Dürer obsession and hope that someone, somewhere in one of London’s big museums decides to do a Dürer exhibition in the next couple of years, although memory makes me think there was something at the Courtauld Gallery back in 2013. Anyway, bring me more Dürer.



There’s also a rather delightful selection of drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger from his time in the English Court. Apparently over one hundred of these portrait studies survive, which makes me wonder why only seven were on display. Surely, there’s an exhibition purely focusing on these drawings to be put on? Unless the others are held by people less amenable to lending their rare and valuable art to the London Museums than Her Majesty the Queen.

What this exhibition also made me wonder was how much art Her Majesty has that we don’t get to see except on special occasions, but this isn’t (perhaps) the time and place to discuss that. Is there a catalogue of the Queen’s collection anywhere? [Yes there is. You can explore the collection online HERE - Ed]

The Encounter isn’t a massive exhibition but definitely worth a visit. Whilst you’re there you should also pop down to take in the BP Portrait Award, 2017 Exhibition, which is free to get into. You too might find yourself disagreeing about the pictures that won the award.

There’s some great work in the Portrait Award Exhibition BP Portrait Award 2017. If you’re bothered here’s my prize winners. Let’s call them the Tony Awar…oh…maybe not. Anyway, I’d have given the first prize to Daniel Coves' 'Blind Portrait', second to Jesús María Sáez De Vicuña Ochoa's 'Delfin (1936) & third to Anne Ben-Or's 'Carmel'. But I'm not an art critic or judge so obviously other paintings won  [find out which HERE].

So, do yourself a favour and pop in to see both. The BP Portrait Award Exhibition runs until 24th September 2017 and is free to see. The Encounter: Drawing from Leonardo to Rembrandt ends on 22nd October 2017 and is – I think - £10 for non-members. So, effectively you’re paying £10 for two exhibitions and access to the rest of a fine museum. Or you can just go see the free bits but you’d miss some lovely drawings.

For more information and to book tickets to The Encounter please go to www.npg.org.uk/encounter

Images - Giulio Pedrizzano, The Lutenist Mascheroni by Annibale Carracci c.1593-4 
Sir John Godsalve by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-4