It was a boat ride on the Thames that inspired the masterpiece that launched John Singer Sargent into the firmament of English painting. The artist was in Pangburne, coming off the Parisian scandal of Madame X, when the spectacle of Chinese lanterns hanging between the trees and flowers set a new idea working in his mind. In two years, he would finish Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, the atmosphere of which, with its vibrant lights, still overwhelms visitors to the Tate Britain today. The work depicts two children in white garb, intent on lighting paper lanterns. Around them, the lush nature of an English garden with lilies, roses and carnations. With Polly and Dolly, daughters of illustrator Frederick Barnard, Sargent worked outside, waiting nightly for the ephemeral enchantment of sunset. Capturing “the warm light of the lanterns against the dark purple of the summer sunset” turned out to be an arduous task. It is a “terribly difficult subject,” the painter wrote to his sister, “The brilliant colours of the flowers and the lamps are impossible, and the more intense green of the lawn in the background. The paints aren’t vivid enough. And besides that, the effect only lasts ten minutes.” But the efforts of the American artist were compensated. In 1887, the exposition of the work at the Royal Academy decreed the launch of Sargent as a portraitist in the United Kingdom. Two ingredients made the painting irresistible to the Victorian public and critics - the innocence of youth and its setting in an English garden.
The dining halls of the V&A are over 150 years old. Designed by stars of interior design of the 1800s, it transformed the experience of visiting the museum and was well ahead of its time in respect to the rest of the world.
Protest and Tenderness - Zanele Muholi at the Tate Modern
Over 260 photos retrace the entire career of the South African activist, documenting their multifaceted life as an outspoken part of South Africa’s gay, lesbian, trans, queer and intersexual community.