Charles II’s collection is not as celebrated as that of his father, Charles I, which will be the focus of a major exhibition next month at the Royal Academy of Arts. But boy did he know how to commission a portrait of himself and show that the king was indeed back—following the execution of Charles I and the dispersion of his collection, the younger Charles was in exile for 14 years until he returned to take the throne in 1660. He did not waste any time amassing a formidable collection, which included works by Bruegel, Leonardo and Titian, among many others. One of the highlights of Charles II: Art and Power (8 December-13 May 2018) at the Queen's Gallery, which opens today, is the majestic portrait of the Merrie Monarch himself by John Michael Wright. The painting is almost three metres high and depicts the king in parliamentary robes and newly wrought regalia, in a display of real power.
Closing this weekend is the major Jasper Johns retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts, titled Something Resembling Truth (until 10 December), which includes more than 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. The exhibition looks at Johns’s use of symbols and language, his musings on paintings as physical objects, and on time, transience, memory and mortality. Although Johns has rarely discussed his relationship to other artists, the show also examines works referencing artists and poets from Alfred Lord Tennyson and Samuel Beckett to Vincent van Gogh. In a recent review of the show, The Art Newspaper’s Kenneth Baker was joined by the British artist Richard Wentworth, who commented that: “There are so many tropes going on in [Johns’s] work, it would make a lovely laundry list of hanging string, sidedness, tense chain, brokenness, mirrors, glass, the dead flashlight.”
Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic (9 December-8 April 2018), which opens tomorrow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, looks at the real people and inspirations behind the much-loved books written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. The museum is home to the largest collection of Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh pencil drawings, and it will be the first time many have gone on show in nearly four decades. There will also be a number of immersive sections, recreating some of the best-known sets from the books, such as Poohsticks Bridge and Eeyore’s house. The museum’s director, Tristram Hunt, says in a statement: “This is our first exhibition specifically for younger families and we look forward to welcoming another generation into A.A. Milne's magical, intimate, joyous world.”