Galleries - May 2010

architectural and figurative works and intimate domestic scenes. Perhaps the greatest was Christen Købke (1810-48), over 40 of whose works are in the NG's Sun- ley Room until June 13. A wel- come first overseas trip for this 'Danish Master of Light'. Albert Camus wrote in 1946: “It was in Spain that men learned that one can be right and still be beaten . . . It is this, without doubt, which explains why so many men throughout the world regard the Spanish drama as a personal tragedy.” Camus was referring to the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, in which 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles joined the Interna- tional Brigades, a force drawn One of the nation's favourite paint- ings, The Execution of LadyJane Grey (1833) forms the centrepiece of the National Gallery 's 'Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey' (until May 23). Indeed it might be argued that awareness of the Nine Days Queen, an episode of the Tudor dynastic soap opera, is due largely to this picture. Historical and literary subjects (Shakespeare, Scott) from across the Channel were popular in post- Waterloo France. Paul Delaroche and others found parallels to re- cent French upheavals in earlier periods of British history – such as The Princes in the Tower or Crom- well and Charles I , which portrays the former contemplating the exe- cuted king in his coffin. While purists may quibble at the histori- cal accuracy of some of these im- ages, their impact was (and is) undeniable, treated as they are in a positively operatic manner. This is an atmospheric show, not over-large, which includes a number of major Delaroche can- vases together with similar the- med works by contemporaries. French subjects are also tackled, notably Delaroche's haggard Marie-Antoinette before the Tribu- nal and Gérome's poignant Exe- cution of Marshal Ney, depicting the Napoleonic hero's fallen body. The first half of the 19th C. has become known in Denmark as the 'Golden Age'. A period of emerg- ing middle-class prosperity and constitutional democracy saw a range of gifted painters produce light-filled landscapes, precise from around the world and num- bering 35-40,000, to defend the Spanish Republic against a military coup led by Francisco Franco. 'Antifascistas' at 12 Star Gallery (5to 14 May), organised by the In- ternational Brigade Memorial Trust, is an exhibition that explores why British and Irish volunteers took the extraordinary decision to risk their lives in a foreign war – one in which more than 500 of them would perish. The role of the British Battalion in many of the key battles is described, along with bi- ographies of prominent indivi- duals and examples of the many artists, poets and writers who were inspired by or actively fought in the conflict. The volunteers saw clearly that the struggle was not a self-contained war, but the first battle in a wider campaign against fascism. When Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin became involved in Spain it was transformed, in many ways, into the first battleground of WWII, a global conflict that pitted fascist against non-fascist states in which many International Briga- ders served with distinction right up to 1945, as 'Antifascistas' per- ceptively emphasises. Despite Camus' lament, the Spanish Civil War neutralised Spain as an effec- tive belligerent on the Axis side, significantly drained the military resources of Italy and gave Britain time to rearm. The sacrifices of the antifascistas were not in vain. LIGHTOPERA J ohn Andrew ANTIFASCISTAS Pryle Behrman P aul Delaroche ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ 1833. The National Gallery British volunteers in Barcelona, September 1936 from the exhibition at 12 Star Gallery