The Estorick Museum
There are a lot of small house museums in London and you can see interesting art collections in a number of the grand houses like Kenwood and Apsley, but there is nowhere quite like the Estorick. I love a museum with focus and there's nothing better than a collection that reflects the collector, which is something you'll find here. In full, the gallery is, "The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art" and it is known for it's core holdings of Italian Futurist works.
My sense for modern Italian art is relatively limited., but slowly growing. While we were in Rome recently we visited De Chirico's astonishing home, atelier and museum which I blogged about here and last year I had an excellent introduction to Italian Futurism through a wonderful exhibit at the Guggenheim in New York. The exhibition, entitled "Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe" was the first comprehensive exploration of Italian Futurism by a US museum. The exhibition website I've linked to is an excellent primer prior to any visit to the Estorick.
Part of the charm of the Estorick is that it seem so unlikely to find an outpost of modern Italian masterpieces in, and amongst, the squares and streets of Islington in north London. This sense of displacement and surprise is a great part of the charm of any visit. The permanent collection at the museum comes from the founding gift made by Eric and Salome Estorick. Eric Estorick was an American sociologist and writer (1913-1993) who became both a dealer and collector in the post-war period. The museum was opened in 1998 and is one of the innumerable arts institutions in London that owes its existence (at least in part) to funds from the National Lottery. So here's to all those lottery card buyers, the unsung arts supporters in the UK!
In addition to the permanent exhibition they also host a number of temporary shows and when we visited they were showing a show on Modigliani, see above and below.
While the Modigliani exhibit was predominantly works on paper it did include this portrait in oil, of Doctor Francois Brabander ,1918, below.
The temporary exhibits are on the ground floor but you continue upstairs to see the permanent collection.
Below is Massimo Campigli, Il Belvedere, from 1930. Here you can see how he was influenced by Etruscan art.
Luigi Russolo's Music, from 1911.
Revolt of the Sage by Giorgio DeChirico from 1916.
The galleries are attractive and well laid out, with both paintings and sculpture on display.
Giacomo Manzù, Bust of a Woman, from 1952, below.
The Futurists were known for, "Words in Freedom", or as they explained it in the Guggenheim exhibition, "liberated words and letters from conventional presentation by destroying syntax, using verbs in the infinitive, eliminating adjectives and adverbs, abolishing punctuation, inserting musical and mathematical symbols, and employing onomatopoeia." When I saw Corraco Govoni, Self Portrait, from 1915, below I wished I could read Italian, unfortunately as a viewer I can liberate the words from their meaning entirely through my own ignorance!
Here you can see the small walled garden. There's also a rather charming cafe though we arrived too late to take advantage this time.
Note: The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Tip: I can highly recommend the nearby pub The Pig and Butcher where we had a late Sunday lunch. This is a wonderful farm to table place where they butcher all their own meat. They are very busy on the weekends but we were very lucky to grab an empty outside table. I'd recommend a reservation if you want to eat here.
D. & B. enjoying a pint- here's to Italian Futurist art and remember "eye contact" when you say "Cheers!"