A few weeks ago I visited the Tintin exhibition at Somerset House in London. The exhibition coincides with the release of the book by the same name, TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece by Pierre Sterckx, which my sister and I had given our Mum as her Christmas present, promising that we’d take her to the exhibition too.
The exhibition presents the evolution of Hergé’s artwork, from his early newspaper strips to his famed graphic work in his later books. Most of the pencil sketches, character drawings, watercolours and original artwork have been drawn from the Hergé Museum in Belgium to be displayed in it’s two and a half month stint at Somerset House.
It’s free entry, and so heartwarming in all it’s little details surrounding the exhibition pieces; with the colourful decorated wallpaper that features ‘framed’ images of Tintin characters and scenes, the fireplaces decorated with charming pictures of his dog, Snowy and framed black and white photographs of Hergé and others on the mantelpiece.
The exhibition items themselves are stunning. Original prints hang on the walls, all set out in chronological order throughout the three rooms. Each room holds one three dimensional model of a Tintin scene – the first room showing the parade scene from I think Tintin in America, which was special to us as my mum used to have the comic strip print on a bag. The second room shows a street scene with Tintin, Captain Haddock and Snowy in a car with windows from the building lit up and shadows seen through them. The third room’s main feature is it’s model of Marlinspike Hall, the family home of Captain Haddock, and a real building that inspired Hergé. It’s a large manor house, and a few windows hold silhouettes of characters through the windows. Other models include Tintin’s apartment, with each room modelled exactly how it appears in the comics, but all pieced together in 3D.
We also visited on a significant day (through no planning of our own), on Tintin’s 87th birthday – eighty seven years since his first appearance in Hergé’s weekly cartoon strip in Brussels in 1929. To celebrate the day, Somerset House hosted a ‘Snowy Lookalike’ competition, and invited owners of dogs that looked similar to Tintin’s dog, Snowy, to come along with their pet for a free of charge Photo Booth. They then judged all the entries, and awarded the best lookalike’s owner a limited edition print of a Tintin print. The winner was a dog named Jasper, owned by Roger Bines – there’s an article on them here.
I’m writing this blog post today because tomorrow is the last day of the exhibition! It’s open 10.00-18.00 with last entry 17.15 in the Terrace Rooms in the South Wing of Somerset House. Check through the website the nearest tube stations, or if you have Citymapper use that.
I really cannot recommend this exhibition enough. It so beautifully conveys the cheeky nature of Tintin, and Hergé’s work in general. It’s presented in a way so true to the artist and the style he created, whilst also telling his life story and the things he had to overcome to get to where he was. Again, tomorrow is the final day to visit the exhibition (free entry!) so if you’re at all able, go visit it before you miss the chance.
I’m also definitely putting the Hergé Museum in Belgium on my todo list.