Category: Portraits

  • A great day at the Musée d’Orsay!

    n Tomorrow I’m going to the Louvre, so please indulge me the cheap rhyme in the title of this post:  April is, after all, National Poetry Month and rest assured, nothing rhymes with “Louvre” in English (it’s now 2:42 a.m. and I’ve been lying in bed trying to think of something). n Today was the…

  • This is me…

    n This is me in the room where we read, where the kids do their homework, and where we put up the Christmas tree.  This is the room where I phoned my dad a year or so before he died:  we were both catheterized, me following an operation for postpartum incontinence and him because the…

  • This was her…

    n This is what we know about her: she lived in Egypt, probably in the Fayoum region, though she may have lived in Antinooupolis, Memphis, or Thebes. She spoke Egyptian and possibly Greek as a second language. She was alive in the second century of the Common Era. Apart from her beauty and apparent wealth…

  • Baudelaire, portraits, and crowds

    n I recently finished a book by Michel Butor called Histoire Extraordinaire; an essay on a dream of Baudelaire. It begins with a dream that Baudelaire recorded at five o’clock in the morning, when it was nice and warm, for his friend Charles Asselineau. (I love the idea of calling a dream nice and warm;…

  • John Updike said…

    n This morning I listened to Terry Gross’ interviews with John Updike and since I’ve been mulling over the nature of portraits and what draws us to them, I was struck by this comment he made about faces: n “The whole idea of a face is slightly funny, isn’t it? If you can put yourself…

  • Here’s looking at you

    There’s no question about it – I’m a “people person”. How else could I spend my days in a museum approaching total strangers and engaging them in conversation? So, when I walk through a gallery I’m most often struck by paintings that look back at me, that is to say, by portraits. n What makes…

  • Gabrielle, part two

    n Drats! Blasted 19th century infant mortality! Yesterday, I went back to the Ryerson library to finish reading Roger Bonniot’s Gustave Courbet en Saintonge in the hopes of finding some clues about Gabrielle’s descendants. The news was sobering. Let’s start out with her mother, Laure. She had five children: Louise Corinne, Louise Laure, Gabrielle (not…

  • Putting your best face forward

    n The other day when I wrote about Young Woman at an Open Half-Door I left out one of the main reasons this painting attracts me: the asymmetric face of its subject. In fact, I got to thinking about the portraits I like in the Art Institute and realized that at least two others have…

  • Rembrandt, Bewitched, and me

    n I’ve been wandering through the rooms of European painting for almost two weeks now. I’ve talked to some interesting people, watched visitors (are they alone or in groups? spending time in front of a painting or walking by them as if they were in an aisle at Trader Joes?), and have had guards watching…