Saint Rosalia and Ragamala
Twin exhibitions at Dulwich Picture Gallery
There are large shows which overwhelm, and London has several of these at the moment,
and small ones which enchant, two of
which are currently on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Had it up to here with
Hockney, full of Freud, pleasurable though that might be?
Then try the fare on offer in GalleryRoad.
Ragamala – Paintings from India:Poetry, Passion, Song. Until May 27
These Indian miniatures are truly exquisite, with the most
amazing detail and come from he Claudio Moscatelli Collection. A ragamala is a
set of miniature painting depicting various musical modes of Indian music. They
were not made to hang on the wall, but were loose leaf pages of a book of some
thirty or forty pages. At special events they would be handed round for those
present to enjoy. The musical connotations may be tricky for Western ears to
realise, but just looking at them is enough. The pigments are made from natural
minerals, insects, flowers, the urine of cows fed on passion fruit and they
In the other half of the gallery’s exhibition space is
Van Dyck in Sicily:Painting and the Plague, 1624-25.Until May 27.
Curated by Dr Xavier Salamon, it focuses on the year the artist spent in Sicily
and its centrepiece is the Gallery’s own Van Dyck, a portrait of Emanuele
Filiberto, the Viceroy of Sicily. It seems Van Dyck, there to paint the
Spaniard in his best armour, found himself trapped by the plague and the result
is a series of paintings of Saint Rosalia, a hermit whose bones discovered in a
cave on Monte Pelegrino were credited with saving the city. The room with its
five pictures of the Saint together for the first time drawn from collections
in America, Spain, Poerto Rico and London, is one to make you think – and
perhaps send Richard Dawkins into a frenzy. Van Dyck created the saint’s image
with her inevitable garland of roses and eyes cast adoringly to the Heavens.
St Rosalie crowned with Roses by Van Dyck in Apsley House. © English Heritage Photo Library
The portrait of Filiberto makes a magnificent centrepiece in the first room and
is flanked by the very armour he is wearing. There is a fine self portrait of
the painter in the same room, and further on a splendid John the Baptist with
not very many clothes on – religious paintings were always an excuse to do a
nice nude and this is as sexy as the Gallery’s St Sebastian.
Saint Rosalia interceding for Palermo. © Metroploitan Museum of Art
More Information - Dulwich Picture Gallery
Tickets: £8, Senior
Citizens £7. Unemployed, disabled, students £4
See the two together - £10.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London
SE 21 7AD
Phone: 020 8693 5254