February 13, 2017

Sunday Morning on Trafalgar Square

few years ago I saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery. Thanks to jet lag, the experience was a bit of a blur. But there’s something about this painting that lured me back. Perhaps it’s the expression of cheerful, positive energy from a man better known for a life of emotional turmoil and tragedy.

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Sunday morning on Trafalgar Square was much quieter than the other times we’d passed through this famous square in the centre of London.

Trafalgar Square, London

Trafalgar Square Fountain

Nelson's Column

Team GB's BFG Dream Jar: Believe in Extraordinary

Lion at the Base of Nelson's Column

Gift Horse, by Hans Haacke
Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth

Canada House

The National Gallery opened at 10 a.m. and I was one of the first art lovers to walk through the door. The gallery doesn’t charge admission to see their magnificent collection, although donations are welcome. Mindful of the time, I targeted my favourite paintings by Canaletto, Vermeer, Seurat and Monet.

National Gallery Portico Entrance

National Gallery Barry Rooms

Venice: The Doge's Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni, by Canaletto (late 1730s)
National Gallery, London

Young Woman Standing at a Virginal, by Johannes Vermeer (1670-02)
National Gallery, London

Bathers at Asnières, by Georges Seurat (1884)
National Gallery, London

The Skiff, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1875)
National Gallery, London

Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway, by J.M.W. Turner (1844)
National Gallery, London

Hillside in Provence, by Paul Cézanne (1890-2)
National Gallery, London

Irises, by Claude Monet (1914-17)
National Gallery, London

I saved the best for last. Vincent Van Gogh fell in love with the south of France and had hoped to establish an artists’ colony in Arles. He invited Paul Gauguin to join him there and painted sunflowers to decorate a room for his friend in the “Yellow House”. Tensions between the two artists eventually led to the famous incident with Van Gogh’s ear and his stay at an asylum. The following year he took his own life. On a quiet Sunday morning I delighted in his Sunflowers without the distracting presence of a crowd.

A Wheatfield with Cypresses, by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
National Gallery, London

Long Grass with Butterflies, by Vincent van Gogh (1890)
National Gallery, London

Van Gogh's Chair, by Vincent van Gogh (1888)
National Gallery, London

Sunflowers, by Vincent van Gogh (1888)
National Gallery, London

Afterwards we had a quick lunch at the cafeteria-style Café in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. I’d enjoyed a delicious (and inexpensive) meal here on my previous visit before a Vivaldi concert in the church. This time we arrived a little too early for a hot lunch but sandwiches were available.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square

Café in the Crypt

From Trafalgar Square it was a short walk to the Palace Theatre in Soho for an afternoon performance of the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ll tell you about that next time.

My Tip for the Day:
Some of London’s best museums offer free admission, like the National Gallery, British Museum and the Tate.

Next:  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


  1. I was fortunate to be in Vienna several years ago when they had a special exhibition of Canaletto. Though I love art, I had never seen his work before then. I was awestruck by the detail. Last year I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I certainly had a new appreciation of his work.

    1. Amsterdam and the Van Gogh museum are on my bucket list!


All comments are moderated.