Monday, 8 February 2016

The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

One of the main reasons for choosing to visit Lisbon was the opportunity to revisit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. It is a fantastic collection of art and design amassed by Armenian oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian (1869-1955), that covers virtually all phases of Eastern and Western art. Visitors walk through the collection chronologically and encounter amongst other items Egyptian carvings, beautifully designed and minted Greek coins, the wonderfully coloured and patterned Iznik pottery and Persian carpets.

The Egyptian and Assyrian carvings were so delicate and skilfull.

Sorry, couldn't resist these Japanese lacquered butterflies.

Boy Blowing Soap Bubbles (1867), by Edouard Manet, was a highlight of the painting collection.

These are some of the fantastical creations by design genius René Lalique (1860-1945). This man's imagination and creativity was something else. I don't think his work has been surpassed in the field of jewellery design. He was such a visionary, and one can only imagine the wonder and delight his work was met with when he unleashed it on the public at the height of the Art Nouveau movement. The Cockerel Head tiara below is stunning.

The last room of the Gulbenkian Museum is dedicated to his work and I was eager to visit it to see the Peitoral- libélula, or Dragonfly Lady brooch which was the prime inspiration behind my own Dragonfly series of works. It was absolutely huge for a brooch, and I can imagine anybody fortunate enough to be wearing it would have felt quite uncomfortable in case they broke it. It was a real privilege to see it, and I felt inspired all over again. She is so beautiful!

Weirdly enough after leaving the Gulbenkian I headed into the old town, and in a courtyard being renovated up by Lisbons' Castelo, I came across this huge pair of dragonfly wings just randomly hanging aloft. I don't know why they were there. Were they perhaps part of an artist's installation? Or rescued from the buildings in the courtyard which were undergoing renovation? No matter, they were beautiful, and a timely, serendipitous find having just visited my dragonfly muse.

These remaining pictures are of the lovely, peaceful, landscaped grounds of the Gulbenkian, and Museum of Modern Art (which is just across the gardens). The Museum of Modern Art currently has an interesting exhibition about Robert and Sonia Delauney's stay in Lisbon from 1915-17, and their influence on Lisbon artists, which closes on 22nd February.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Centro de Arte Moderna
Rua Dr. Nicolau de Bettencourt
1050-078 Lisboa