Saturday, May 28, 2011

London Portraits

Man with a Quilted Sleeve
c. 1510

School of Anthony Van Dyck
Portrait of Two Young Englishmen (detail)
c. 1635

Portrait of a Young Man
c. 1550

This afternoon Peter Brooks in a back issue of the New York Review of Books reminded me of a passage Henry James wrote in The Tragic Muse. The character Nick Dormer has given up a career in politics to pursue life as a painter. He confronts several portraits in London's National Gallery

"As he stood before them the perfection of their survival often struck him as the supreme eloquence, the virtue that included all others, thanks to the language of art, the richest and most universal. Empires and systems and conquests had rolled over the globe and every kind of greatness had risen and passed away, but the beauty of the great pictures had known nothing of death or change, and the tragic centuries had only sweetened their freshness."

Giovanni Bellini
Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan
c. 1501

Self Portrait

Nobody knows which specific portraits Nick Dormer was thinking about in the National Gallery back in the 1890s. But some of these must have been included. They remain to this day together in London.

Madame Moitessier

Lorenzo Lotto
Portrait of a Woman Inspired by Lucrezia
c. 1530

Andrea del Sarto
Portrait of a Young Man
c. 1517

Hans Holbein the Younger
The Ambassadors

Jean-Marc Nattier
Portrait of Manon Balletti