“Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” the exhibit of Woolf portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London, opened July 10 and runs through Oct. 26. Formal reviews are appearing online. But informal ones are popping up on the VWoolf Listserv as well.
Below are some comments from lucky visitors to the exhibit who posted their thoughts to the list this week:
“I saw the show last week and was captivated. I particularly enjoyed the section on Woolf and public transport! That said, there was a glaring, dismaying mistake in one of the captions. Under a first edition of Ulysses, Harriet Shaw Weaver is identified as the “owner of the Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris” who approached the Hogarth Press about publishing the full book. Of course Weaver was the editor of The Egoist, who serialized Ulysses and yes approached the Woolfs. Sylvia Beach was the owner of Shakespeare & Company, who finally published the book herself, at great personal expense, and as far as I know had no dealings with the Woolfs or Hogarth.” – Laura
“I was lucky enough to have my trip to London coincide with the exhibit. I wish it had not been so crowded, as it was hard to pace myself, but I was so glad to get the chance! The book that Spalding has compiled for the exhibit would be worth the while, I think, and is likely available online through the NPG. It’s very well curated, with some rare pieces, including candid shots from Ottoline Morrell’s photo album. I think the impromptu snaps of Virginia are often so much more interesting than those she posed for.” – Andrea Adolph
“Frances Spalding has done a wonderful job of creating a narrative through visual artefacts. Those photos by Ott can actually be seen on the NPG website, I believe. I was surprised by Mark Gertler’s painting of Koteliansky (?Kot?): quite irrationally I had always imagined Kot as an ascetic and tiny man, but in this portrait he looks like a big burly businessman! There are some real rarities in the show?the bound volumes of letters that Violet Dickinson returned to VW late in life; I had not ever known Violet annotated these (of course, under glass one can only see a page, but the prospect is tantalizing); also the actual Gestapo list on which L & VW’s names appear. And yes, the catalog is very rich and interesting. I am in London doing research for a biography of Clive Bell, so was lucky to be able to see this wonderful exhibition.” – Mark Hussey
If you’re visiting the exhibit, tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #NPGWoolf. By searching tweets with that hasthtag, I found this review on another WordPress blog in which the writer says the exhibit left her “inspired to firstly read everything she’s ever written (starting with Orlando) and secondly, to journal in a more dedicated way.”