12 May 2015

Tuesday is drawing day - Wallace Collection

This was my third time in the Oriental Armour room. There's something new to see each time, and this time it was overhearing the conversation of a curator with a new member of staff that was so revealing as he pointed out objects to her - "this dagger almost certainly belonged to Shah Jehan, the one who built the Taj Mahal - it really needs to be in a case on its own, properly lit." I went over to that area once they'd gone: a case labelled "16th-18th century Indian daggers" - no clue as to which of the 7 or 8 he'd been talking about. To find out would have meant looking up each one, with their arbitrary numbering system, in the gallery handlist, which is hardly a catalogue of the collection. He wants to do a proper catalogue. And that room is at the top of the list for renovation - I didn't catch the starting date, but intend to go back while there's still time.

This photo gives some idea of the old-fashioned nature of the display; it's from the museum's "behind the scenes" section, showing some of the objects in close-up, wonderful details. (More about photographing arms and armour, from the European collection this time, is here.) -
Drawing in that room requires close looking, and closing your eyes to other objects in the case. 

Another approach is to go looking for details. I made a grid on a page and set to work, limbering up as I went along -
The item numbers are "just in case" there was time to look them up and take a few notes. There wasn't. Here are close-ups of some of the items -

Difficult conditions for photos - reflections, glare, lighting.... but what wonderful craftsmanship, what attention to detail. 

For the rest of the morning I focused on this case -
First several views of the powder horn on the right, trying to capture the shape and shadow -
The velvet was decorated with sequins and metallic threads -
After that, a grapple with a sword hilt -
Not wide enough!

The real thing (except it's really 3D, not 2D)

Such detailed decoration, how do they do it?
Then the best bit of the day - coffee/lunch and the revelation of sketchbooks. 
Janet's horseman, from the rear. She used a "blunt HB pencil" - and no eraser
Michelle's quick continuous-line sketch and tonal drawing of a crumpled gold head
Caryl caught the metallic qualities of the helmet
Sue used graphite and a little added colour
Fascinating objects; not always "easy", but compelling.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

I must really go see the Wallace collection some time. A lot of my historical inspiration books have references to it.
Great idea for the grid and trying to focus on detail.

A recent Antiques Roadshow described how they did the patterning and 'engraving' on swords and the like, but at present I can't recall the technique exactly.