Monday, February 26, 2007

Picture Post Week: National Portrait Gallery

Seven years ago, I was geeked about my senior class trip to London in the spring. We'd see museums and galleries, pubs and squares, a castle and some cathedrals, and I'd could not wait to whip our my passport and get outta dodge. Sandwiched between the British Museum and the National Library's exhibition on Bibles (Christian schools gots to get them a church connection), I noticed we were slated for a visit to the Britain's National Portrait Gallery. I was so excited to be heading over the pond for any reason, I didn't really give it much thought, but it turned out to be a highlight of the trip. It helped that my best friends were with me, snarking the fashion, furnishings, facial expressions, and major life moments of many of those pictured. It seemed like every other image was something I'd seen in my textbooks growing up, of course they were 1-in square in the books, but it was amazing not just to see the whole portrait but to see all of these people thrown together - like art and history all at once.

When we moved to DC, having failed to ever hear of such a gallery here, I naturally looked it up. And it was closed. It recently reopened (after a seven-year hiatus for renovation and restoration), and Hubster and I just HAD to check it out. Sometimes, it's nice to be married to a fellow learning nerd. This was one of those times.

We got there around when it opens at 11:30am (coincidentally), so we happened to catch the third floor (20th Century American Portraiture) pretty wide open. The restored building is mighty fine.

Dome on the third floor. It was a bright day, so the sun is just pouring through that stained glass.

He may have had a hand in our views on education, but we philosophers claim John Dewey, too. Unless we hate American pragmatists. Then not so much.

Back in the day, mom included a biography of George Washington Carver in our homeschooling curriculum. I was deeply moved by his life story and his scientific work, and I remember seeing this portrait and thinking how well it captured my conception of him. I have no idea what he was really like, but I'm pretty sure I'd like to have tea with him in the afterlife.

This portrait of FDR's inauguration has some fun caricature work.

We wandered into one section on the second floor which was labeled Graphic Arts on our map and really wasn't. It was part of the American Art Museum's exhibition entitled: "Eadweard Muybridge: The Central American Journey." It included amazing photographs of Central American people and landscapes (mostly landscapes), but the design of the rooms, the colors, and the awesome frame job made the collection look fantastic.

Next time I go there, I'm totally asking them about their frames.

1 comment:

Jackscolon said...

Did you learn about George Washington Carver in February? during Black History Month? Because I've been watching lots of BET (they're running the first season of "The Wire"- the greatest HBO series ever) and according to all their public service announcements every single influential black American was a rapper.

Also do you think they could cram any less exhibitry into any more square footage for the Central American section? Stupid inefficient government waste of tax dollars!

My confirmation word is indiscernable- the letters are just way too close together.