A friend invited me along ot the Goya Portrait exhibition currently on at the National Gallery. It has been reviewed well and obviously the artist is both famous and popular.
It was interesting rather than enthralling.
We found ourselves distracted by the hairstyles of the women, seeing the pictures as a historic reference point rather than individual things of beauty. Maybe that’s always going to be the problem with portraits of people that we don’t know though I seem to remember not feeling at all the same when viewing Rembrandt.
The grey wigs fashionable for women at the start of the show were a great distraction, moving through a more natural style, to the very beautiful “fancy dress” at the end.
It was interesting to see the chalk sketches along with the portraits and although he is somewhat famed for his realism, there is a definite falttering shading to some faces, especially noses.
But then you come across the least flattering historical picture of a monarch that I’ve ever come across: a king out hunting with his dog looking very dim. Even when dressed up to the nines, Ferdinand VII doesn’t look the brightest button in the bag.
There are some very handsome, louch young men, artists and young aristocrats and ofcourse self-portaits of Goya himself.
These things are expensive at nearly £20 per person so I’m not sure whether to recommend it to other friends. If I knew they loved Goya or just loved portraiture in general then it would be an easier show to recommend.
The exhibition was good but not the best thing I’ve seen this year.