Simon Schama - The Great Gallery Tours

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
01The Courtauld2020071320200810 (R4)
20200822 (R4)
First stop is the Courtauld Gallery in London and a world class Impressionist collection.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

Simon Scharma introduces a lockdown series from the Courtauld Gallery in London where he picks out the cream of the Impressionist collection from Cézanne, Manet and Gauguin.

Simon was inspired to make the series because, "Like many of you I'm badly missing the joy of museums and galleries during the lockdown. So I'm really delighted to be able to talk about four of my favourite treasure-houses of great art - the Prado, the Rijksmuseum and the Whitney in New York, and, first of all, the Courtauld Gallery in London. I hope to convey in full-colour radio the transforming power of some of their greatest paintings.“

Choosing the Courtauld also unlocked a personal story for Simon. The collection was started by the textile magnate Samuel Courtauld and the firm had become rich producing the silk substitute Rayon. Simon's father, a textile merchant, bought huge amounts of Courtauld's Rayon and Simon remembers being taken to the factory to watch production. It awakened in him an awareness of colour for the first time.

He also remembers, as a young man, being transfixed in front of Cézanne's painting Montagne Sainte-Victoire - one of an exceptional collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings assembled by Sam Courtauld, at a time when the 'French rebels' were regarded with great suspicion by the Englist art establishment. This is his first choice in his tour for this programme.

The other choices are A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet - full of the life of late-19th-century Paris but also the mystery of how we should regard its central figure, the lovely but preoccupied barmaid - and Nevermore, Gauguin's haunting portrait of his naked teenage lover, painted in Tahiti in 1897.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours’ programme website.

Written and Presented by Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Simon Scharma introduces visits the Courtauld Gallery in London where he picks out the cream of the Impressionist collection from Cézanne, Manet and Gauguin.

Simon was inspired to make the series because, "Like many of you I'm badly missing the joy of museums and galleries. So I'm really delighted to be able to talk about four of my favourite treasure-houses of great art - the Prado, the Rijksmuseum and the Whitney in New York, and, first of all, the Courtauld Gallery in London. I hope to convey in full-colour radio the transforming power of some of their greatest paintings.“

Simon Scharma introduces visits the Courtauld Gallery in London where he picks out the cream of the Impressionist collection from Cézanne, Manet and Gauguin.

Simon was inspired to make the series because, "Like many of you I'm badly missing the joy of museums and galleries. So I'm really delighted to be able to talk about four of my favourite treasure-houses of great art - the Prado, the Rijksmuseum and the Whitney in New York, and, first of all, the Courtauld Gallery in London. I hope to convey in full-colour radio the transforming power of some of their greatest paintings.“

Choosing the Courtauld also unlocked a personal story for Simon. The collection was started by the textile magnate Samuel Courtauld and the firm had become rich producing the silk substitute Rayon. Simon's father, a textile merchant, bought huge amounts of Courtauld's Rayon and Simon remembers being taken to the factory to watch production. It awakened in him an awareness of colour for the first time.

He also remembers, as a young man, being transfixed in front of Cézanne's painting Montagne Sainte-Victoire - one of an exceptional collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings assembled by Sam Courtauld, at a time when the 'French rebels' were regarded with great suspicion by the Englist art establishment. This is his first choice in his tour for this programme.

The other choices are A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet - full of the life of late-19th-century Paris but also the mystery of how we should regard its central figure, the lovely but preoccupied barmaid - and Nevermore, Gauguin's haunting portrait of his naked teenage lover, painted in Tahiti in 1897.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours’ programme website.

Written and Presented by Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

First stop is the Courtauld Gallery in London and a world class Impressionist collection.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

02The Rijksmuseum2020072020200811 (R4)
20200829 (R4)
Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals are the artsts at the centre of Sir Simon Schama's tour of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It's a place he knows well, having written extensively about Dutch history and about his great hero, Rembrandt.

So we are treated to Simon's vibrant take on The Nightwatch - the most justifiably famous group portrait and priniciple treasure of the museum. We have wonderful accounts too of Vermeer's Woman Reading a Letter and a Frans Hals' sexy marriage portrait.

There's also a fabulous still life that means you'll never look at asparagus in the same way again.

With the help of Museum Director Taco Dibbits, Simon sets the Rijksmuseum in context. It is more than a gallery. It is an account of the Dutch past and a 'temple of national identity' - it is where the Dutch go to remember who they were and still are. Duiring lockdown, it was voted the place that Dutch people most missed visiting.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours programme website.

Written and Presented by Sir Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Sir Simon Schama's pick of the great Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals are the artsts at the centre of Sir Simon Schama's tour of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It's a place he knows well, having written extensively about Dutch history and about his great hero, Rembrandt.

So we are treated to Simon's vibrant take on The Nightwatch - the most justifiably famous group portrait and priniciple treasure of the museum. We have wonderful accounts too of Vermeer's Woman Reading a Letter and a Frans Hals' sexy marriage portrait.

There's also a fabulous still life that means you'll never look at asparagus in the same way again.

With the help of Museum Director Taco Dibbits, Simon sets the Rijksmuseum in context. It is more than a gallery. It is an account of the Dutch past and a 'temple of national identity' - it is where the Dutch go to remember who they were and still are. Duiring lockdown, it was voted the place that Dutch people most missed visiting.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours programme website.

Written and Presented by Sir Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Sir Simon Schama's pick of the great Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

03The Prado2020072720200812 (R4)
20200905 (R4)
The Prado Museum in Madrid is a barometer of the fortunes of Spain. It is one of the great galleries because it is based on the collection of the Spanish monarchs of the 16th and 17th centuries - when they were the richest and most powerful in the western world. So the Prado has an unrivalled assembly of paintings by court favourites Titian and Velazquez as well as Goya.

Simon's choices begin, however, with a painting that spent only a short time in the Prado before being moved to the neighbouring museum of modern art - Guernica by Picasso. For Simon, this is that exceptional thing - a modernist history painting. Epic in scale and ambition, it captures the brutality and carnage of the attack by German planes on the defenceless Basque town. Simon links this to the horror of Goya's painting The Third of May 1808, in which a firing squad is in the business of slaughtering a group of Madrilenos rebels who have resisted the French invasion of Spain. Both paintings prompt a visceral response from the viewer.

We are also treated to an account of Titian's magnificent equestrian portrait of Charles V and of Velazquez's masterwork Las Meninas (the Maids of Honour), which has been described as the greatest painting ever made.

The programme concludes with Zurbaran's exquisite still life, Angus Dei, a sacrificial lamb ready for the slaughter, beautifully rendered down to its eyelashes.

You can find the names of the paintings and a link to the gallery on the Great Gallery Tours programme website.

Written and Presented by Sir Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio prodution for BBC Radio 4

Sir Simon Schama celebrates the work of the Spanish masters Goya, Velazquez and Picasso.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

Sir Simon Schama's choices begin, however, with a painting that spent only a short time in the Prado before being moved to the neighbouring museum of modern art - Guernica by Picasso. For Sir Simon, this is that exceptional thing - a modernist history painting. Epic in scale and ambition, it captures the brutality and carnage of the attack by German planes on the defenceless Basque town. Simon links this to the horror of Goya's painting The Third of May 1808, in which a firing squad is in the business of slaughtering a group of Madrilenos rebels who have resisted the French invasion of Spain. Both paintings prompt a visceral response from the viewer.

04The Whitney Museum Of American Art2020080320200813 (R4)
20200912 (R4)
New York is Sir Simon Schama's home town. So it's approriate that his final Gallery Tour should be based in the Whitney Museum of American Art which he first experienced as a young man in the 1960s.

Since then, the museum his moved to an exciting glassy new building at the foot of the High Line in the former meatpacking district of the city. It's a welcoming place with wonderful terraces layering the building which afford splendid views over the city and the water.

Here Simon's chooses American artists from the 20th century. They tell a New York story. The Mark Rothko colour panel called Four Darks in Red was one of a set intended for the restaurant of the flashy Four Seasons Hotel in the Seagram Building, but were withdrawn by Rothko who hated the conspicuous consumption of the place. Edward Hopper's New York Movie takes us inside a cinema where an usherette is lost in her own thoughts as the film plays. Simon also chooses work by Jacob Lawrence, the Harlem painter who catalogued the experience of African Americans in the Second World War, and photographer and chameleon Cindy Sherman whose Untitled 2008 offers us a grand dame - herself in yet another guise - moneyed and aloof, but staving off the ravages of time.

It's a wonderful introduction to the museum which will not re-open until August 2020 at the earliest.

You can find the names of the paitings discussed and a link to the museum on the Great Gallery Tours programme page.

Written and Presented by Sir Simon Schama
Produced by Susan Marling
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

In his home town of New York, Sir Simon Schama celebrates four great 20th century artists.

Simon Schama conducts a virtual tour of fourworld-class galleries.

Here Simon chooses American artists from the 20th century. They tell a New York story. The Mark Rothko colour panel called Four Darks in Red was one of a set intended for the restaurant of the flashy Four Seasons Hotel in the Seagram Building, but were withdrawn by Rothko who hated the conspicuous consumption of the place. Edward Hopper's New York Movie takes us inside a cinema where an usherette is lost in her own thoughts as the film plays. Simon also chooses work by Jacob Lawrence, the Harlem painter who catalogued the experience of African Americans in the Second World War, and photographer and chameleon Cindy Sherman whose Untitled 2008 offers us a grand dame - herself in yet another guise - moneyed and aloof, but staving off the ravages of time.