Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finding Rima


Jacob Epstein and the Hudson Memorial in Hyde Park

London is very busy in August. The National Gallery was full to overflowing, I was glad to slip down to the basement to see the current free Exhibition 'Devotion by design', a beautifully presented collection of pre 1500 altarpieces. They came alive in the half light, music and flickering candles added to the powerful atmosphere. Away from the crowds I could gaze at that superb Mantegna, along with other memorable pieces in peace and quiet.
Leaving there I called into the Mall galleries and had an expresso with a custard tart.
Then, with time to spare I took it into my head to find The Hudson Memorial. I had examined reproductions in my books of Epsteins remarkable relief carvings of the Venezuelan goddess Rima.
I walked up the Mall past the palace to Hyde Park Corner, scrutinizing the public map I saw way off in the middle of Hyde Park 'The Hudson Memorial', skirting the Serpentine I walked on up the wide sloping paths on a summers afternoon among the deckchairs and picnics. after 40 mins I caught sight of my Epstein! I approached with anticipation. Almost better than I had hoped, Perfect proportions, immaculate surroundings, a peaceful sanctuary and perfect memorial for the naturalist Hudson. A small panel, about 3 x 4 foot, but with such power joined to ascendant lightness. I think it superb, unbelievable that when unveiled in May 1925 it caused uproar as the personification of ugliness! Some 90yrs on it has worn well, and I was glad the crowds were all round the Hay Wain, I had Rima to myself.