wed 22/11/2017

portraits

Painters' Paintings, National Gallery

The huge and gorgeous Titian, The Vendramin Family, c.1540-c.1560, displays a frieze of males of all ages, three or four generations – and an adorable lap dog held close by the youngest boy – in marvellously sumptuous costume. The painting is...

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Russia and the Arts, National Portrait Gallery

A good half of the portraits in Russia and the Arts are of figures without whom any conception of 19th century European culture would be incomplete. A felicitous subtitle, “The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky”, provides a natural, even easy point of...

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Paul Strand, Victoria & Albert Museum

Once you’ve seen him, you can’t forget him. Taken in 1951, Paul Strand’s black and white portrait of a French teenager sears itself onto your retina. He stares unflinchingly back, and looking into his eyes, you feel almost scalded by his exceptional...

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In the Age of Giorgione, Royal Academy

Much is made of the mystery surrounding Giorgione, a painter of pivotal influence, about whom, paradoxically, we know almost nothing beyond the manner of his death. He died in a Venetian plague colony in 1510 aged about 33, and was as elusive in the...

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Søren Dahlgaard’s Dough Portraits

Can a portrait really be a portrait if we can’t see a person’s face? And what if the reason we can’t see their face is that it is covered with a lump of dough? Is it a joke? And if it is a joke, is it on us or them? Or perhaps it is a joke about art...

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Best of 2015: Art

From weaselly shyster to spineless drip, the biographies of Goya’s subjects are often superfluous: exactly what he thought of each of his subjects is jaw-droppingly evident in each and every portrait he painted. Quite how Goya got away with it is a...

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Julia Margaret Cameron, Victoria & Albert Museum / Science Museum

Reputations and popularity rise and fall and rise again in cycles, and so with the redoubtable Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879). Now considered one of the finest photographers ever, she was an amateur gifted with incredible tenacity, intellectual...

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Portraits from the 2015 Taylor Wessing Prize

At first glance David Stewart’s Five Girls 2014, the winning entry in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, is a very ordinary scene. Five young women sit behind a table, obligatory mobile phones within reach and lying amongst the...

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Jean-Etienne Liotard, Royal Academy

Unswervingly confident, relaxed and assured, the élite of the 18th century are currently arrayed on the walls of the Royal Academy, gazing down at us with the utmost assurance of their unassailable place in the world, bright eyed and dressed to...

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Giacometti, National Portrait Gallery

Any number of puzzling and fantastical stories were told by Alberto Giacometti in the construction of a personal mythology that helped secure his reputation as an archetypal artist of the avant-garde. Less heroic than the oft-quoted accounts of his...

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Frank Auerbach, Tate Britain

A finely honed and spacious selection dating from the 1950s to now, looks in acute focus at the work – a scatter of drawings, a print, but almost entirely paintings – of Frank Auerbach, (b 1931). An only child, he came without his family, from...

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Goya: The Portraits, National Gallery

The brute nature of man in times of war, religious persecution and hypocrisy, and the destructive power of superstition. Francisco de Goya’s fame today largely rests on such themes, and they go a long way to explain just why he’s often considered...

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