This slightly higgledy-piggledy blockbuster purports to paint a picture of the way in which this country's art has been collected and publicly displayed. At times, however, walking around the show is more akin to wandering through the Summer Exhibition, looking for lilies among the weeds. There's oodles of British painting, some of which (Romney, Stubbs) is distinctly more interesting than others. There is also more densely hung Victorian painting (Pre-Raphaelite and otherwise) than you can shake a paintbrush at, but, just when fatigue threatens to fell you, up pops a little jewel like Two Warriors, an astonishingly solid line drawing by Gaudier-Brzeska which hangs next to a swiftly executed John Singer Sargent watercolour of Soldiers at Rest, painted five years later. Look out too for Bellini (above), El Greco's impassioned Tears of St Peter and a typically luminous de la Tour in which one of the characters is a dead ringer for Leslie Phillips.
David BenedictReuse content