National Portrait Gallery

vera_list_full{ detail }vera_hands { detail }vera_head

I was enamored of this oil on paper piece depicting art collector and philanthropist Vera List by Jon R. Friedman. It hung in the new arrivals hall by the front entrance of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. It was one of the first paintings I saw and was probably my favorite throughout the whole museum. Very much a mix between Andrew Wyeth and Lucian Freud. There are so many intricate parts of this painting that I quite like; I can't decide which I like more - the bandaid on her hand or the vein in her forehead...

There is currently a fabulous photography exhibit, of which I failed to take many photos.  One playful portrait that caught my eye was this one below.  I love the parallels between the background of this photograph and the treatment of the couch in the above painting.

Photograph of Henry Kissinger by Steve Pyke


I managed to quickly peruse most of the exhibits/wings in an hour and a half.  My trip to the gallery was shorter than I wished as I spent the first part of the day driving up to Washington DC from Charleston, SC. Nonetheless, it was still inspiring!

Rediscovering artists is always a joy, whether in a magazine, book, museum, etc. On Friday at the museum, I found that I loved the work of both Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Abbott Handerson Thayer.  I had seen both of these artists' work before, but it wasn't until I saw a collection of their paintings in person that I realized how much I responded to them. Dewing's ethereal paintings of romantic woman struck a cord with me, and I appreciate his soft, feminine color palette. Thayer's angelic female figures exude a strong sense of emotion and mystery along with innocence. I enjoy the symmetrical compositions in many of Thayer's paintings. While still maintaining subtle rendering, he positions his figures on the canvas in such a way creating an overall bold, graphic quality.  I especially love his brushwork and the looseness of My Children (first image below).  I pulled this image from online as I did not capture a good enough one myself.  Online, I read that Thayer signed this painting and inscribed it "never to be retouched, not one pinpoint."  Now that is just spendid!


Abbott Handerson Thayer, My Children (Mary, Gerald, and Gladys Thayer), oil, (very large, approx. 5' x 7') thayer

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Virgin Enthroned, oil, (also very large) thayer_virgin_enthroned

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Stevenson Memorial, oil, (also very large) stevenson_memorial

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Angel, oil angel

Abbott Handerson Thayer, Winged Figure, oil  { AT ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO }

angel_aic I took the above image, Winged Figure, while at the Art Institute of Chicago a few weeks ago. I had always loved the compostion of the curved body and cropped wings, but I never realized who painted it until I just took note of other Thayers at the National Portrait Gallery.

......................................................................................................................................................... THOMAS WILMER DEWING :::

Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Lady in White (No. 2), oil on canvas

In a natural pose reminiscent of Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black: The Artist's Mother, the figure in Dewing's Lady in White (No. 2) appears to possess less mannequin-like traits than Dewing's other figure paintings at the gallery (including a painting of dancing ladies that is literally painted on a grand piano).



Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Music, oil on canvas dewing_music

Thomas Wilmer Dewing, A Reading, oil on canvas dewing_table

PS :::

Thomas Wilmer Dewing.  Abbott Handerson Thayer.  Amy Lind?

How did I get stuck with such a short unpoetic name?  I thought the mark of true artists were their strong names..