The Courtauld Gallery, London

The Courtauld may be magic, it managed to lift us out of the mundane when the water and electricity were cut off for the entire day - just when my mother had came to stay. Believe me, after the morning we had (I won't go in to the rain or the wait for the bus) the calm, elegant  interior of the museum was almost miraculous.

This is a fantastic collection that feels like a secret. I really don't understand why it's so quiet in here. Where else can you see an entire room of Cezannes without the crowd? Van Gogh, Gaugain, Seurat, Derain, Manet, Rousseau, sculpture by Rodin and Degas, check, check, check. Who knew there was a second Dejeuner Sur L'Herbes  (above) in London? The Courtauld feels like a private house museum, even though it's housed in the enormous Somerset House. The building has such character as you can see from the staircase below and the view of Somerset House from the second floor gallery, above.
I love coming here and everytime I come there's more to enjoy. It isn't a large collection but I finally feel I'm getting to know it. Though I always give the Renaissance section short shrift. 
The current collection is made up of a variety of bequests, but it's hard to imagine the breadth of Samuel Courtauld's original holdings. Every time I admired a painting it was his, over and over, room after room.  
These are iconic pictures that tell the tale of a revolution in modern art.
There is something mesmerizing about this picture by Manet, the mirror reflecting the interior of the Folie-Bergere and even the acrobat's feet in the upper lefthand corner. There just so much to look at and I adore the details, including the flowers, the bottles and the  oranges. 
If you spend any length of time in this gallery you'll see people coming back to this picture over and over. There are plenty of other amazing paintings in the room including a variety of works by Gaugin (below) but it's the Manet that draws people. The flat stare of the woman behind the bar, so familiar, so modern. Sometimes I find it hard to pull myself away.

Over the years I've seen Gaugin's work in a variety of media including wood sculpture and block prints which were on sale at Sotheby's years ago. At the Courtauld they have a fascinating marble sculpture that he made of his wife while he was still working as a stockbroker. Unfortunately it's  currently housed behind plexiglass. However, it's nice to see it juxtaposed with the painting behind it.

What is lovely about the collection is the variety, sculpture, painting, silver, furniture. All of the very highest standard. 
Although there is no reason to match these two picture together when they are divided by style and over several centuries, for some reason I like the pairing of these two women.
 I can't resist this red beach by Derain (below) and though I have no pictures I'm very partial to the small room filled with tiny studies by Seurat.  
Everything at the Courtauld is just lovely from the art to the building and the cafe. It's all beautiful designed and displayed. Even the air conditioning vents are stunning. With so much beauty and so few visitors the Courtauld remains one of my favorite places in London.