Saturday, 23 October 2010

My real reason for visiting the National Portrait Gallery yesterday was to see the Thomas Lawrence exhibition that has just opened.
He painted this portrait of Queen Charlotte when he was only 20, with no formal training as painter, and having been granted only one sitting by the Queen.
But look how that young boy has captured the sadness in her eyes, only a year after the first descent into madness of King George III.
There were other haunting faces in this exhibition, so real - you'd think - that they might have stepped out of their frames to engage you in formal, polite conversation. Lawrence seems to have had a way with those who were old and frail, like old Lady Manners who was 89 when he painted her sitting erect but twisting a lace handkerchief in her knotted, arthritic hands. He painted William Wilberforce in retirement, his body wracked by pain but goodness and good humour shining out from his face.
There was hardly anybody in the gallery yesterday and my guess is that the average age of visitors was well over 60. I enjoyed the quiet and the sense that everybody there was engrossed in the paintings ... but what a shame that so many will ignore this exhibition because it isn't 'fashionable.'

5 comments:

Lucille said...

You've just got them another visitor!

Sue said...

I wish I were in London. I haven't been to the the NPG for years and I love looking at portraits. This one sounds right up my street.

mary said...

That's good, Lucille. I hope you enjoy it.
I know I'm lucky to live so near that I can pop in, Sue. (But you can't have that and a quince tree, too!)

Darlene said...

Oh I would have been there in a shot but it is sad how some will take for granted what is in their own back garden.

I marvel at lace in paintings. How tedious it must be to get it just right but so gorgeous when they do.

mary said...

Darlene, I think we're a bit spoiled for choice in this back garden. So many things I mean to go to and I don't get round to it.