In an interesting collection of portraits submitted for the BP portrait Award 2017 by contemporary artists I was surprised to find that only one portrait was abstract, all the rest were figurative representational images. Though I liked many of them most were too ‘photographic’ for my taste.
It shouldn’t surprise me but surprise me it did – seeing how little we’ve changed in the last six centuries. The clothes – especially the hats and hairstyles – may have changed but the expressions, so brilliantly captured by these masters, remain the same.
This old woman is so brilliantly drawn with the muscles of her cheek pushed up by the fist she is leaning on is one of my favourites. One of the reasons for wearing ruffs was to hide swollen tuberculous neck glands, rare now in the Western word and we don’t wear caps but you could see her or her sister in any present day gathering of old ladies.
I am always a sucker for shops in art galleries. The National Portrait Gallery has a small shop attached to the current exhibition as well as the large shop at the front of the gallery – both full of things you don’t need but must have.
The women on the bag look very serious but if they broke into a smile you could see their like in the streets of London.