All throughout my high school career, miscellaneous teachers in miscellaneous classes have taught about miscellaneous painters and their miscellaneous portraits.
Let’s just say, I didn’t realize how many miscellaneous portraits and paintings I would recognize when we visited the National Portrait Gallery and the National Art Gallery in London the other day.
As we walked through the galleries, I think the first time I freaked out is when we accidentally walked past a portrait that had been on my Literature textbook since I was a sophomore in high school.
He stands there holding himself up by a chair, almost saying “I don’t need to sit in your chair, I am strong enough to stand.” Although Weston is dressed in a casually professional way, he holds his medals and his beret is placed on the seat that he refuses to sit in. This led me to believe that he was a well respected military man, however he is not defined by that time in his life, but that is what this portrait is highlighting.
After puzzling over this portrait, and forming my own idea of the purpose behind it, I read the plaque to see if I was anywhere close to correct, I wasn’t completely off, however I had failed to even take notice of Weston’s slightly deformed facial features, yet that was the first thing that the plaque mentioned.
This portrait took me by surprise at how much it stood for (literally) as long as I took just enough time to think about it myself. I didn’t walk into that gallery room and was captivated by it, I didn’t see a lot of other people looking at it because it captivated them, and I didn’t see anything other than a portrait – like all the others in the room – until I really looked at it.
Another portrait caught my attention though, and it was a portrait that calls attention to itself without hesitation. I don’t think anyone in the gallery that day was allowed to walk by it without the picture calling for the walker-bys full attention.
Needless to say, I was brought under it’s order and gawked, not just at how the picture was positioned, not how it was displayed, how it was taken, but rather how it made me feel.
The photographic portrait emitted dominance, and therefore made me feel subordinate, however, I also felt empowered, like standing by a powerful figure knowing that you represent them and that you are on the same side of this powerful figure.
It’s only fitting that the title of this portrait was “Power.” It is one in a series of portraits done by Simon Schama called “Face of Britain.”
Because of copyright, I was not able to take a picture of it, but online, there is the same series featuring a different subject for the “Power” portrait, however is still emits the same feelings.
The National Portrait Gallery was something I wouldn’t have put on my to-do list when coming to London, but I am sure glad that my class visited for miscellaneous reasons.
Thanks for the miscellaneous London.