Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Intimate Portrait at The British Museum
Set in the intimate Gallery 90 in the British Museum, The Intimate Portrait takes some of the nicest drawings and miniatures out of the British Museum's collection and puts them on display for the masses...free of charge!
After hiking up the many flights of worn marble stairs you enter the dimly lit print gallery. It looks like any other print gallery with the exception of an ingenious little simplicity: rest boards. These banisters follow the glass cases allowing you to rest your arms (and handbag) as you lean down to read the detailed description of the drawings. Lauren and both remarked on what a convenient feature this was. It was needed to because there was a lot of reading in the descriptions and each was was so interesting, you didn't want to skip over any.
I loved this exhibition. Although small in size you could easily spend an hour or more there. There weren't as many miniatures as I was hoping, but the amazing drawings made up for the lack of miniatures. There were many highlights I particularly enjoyed. Two sketches of Angelica Kauffman show the artist in candid moments, sketched when she was sketching or in the company of friends. The drawing of Mary Hamilton by Lawrence is so beautiful it was chosen as the icon for the exhibition itself. A chalk self-portrait of Joshua Reynolds at 27, shows not only how handsome the young artist was but also depicts his young ambition and confident air. There is also a sketch Thomas Lawrence did of Emma when he was visiting the Hamiltons which is interesting in that Emma herself signed it. Her signature is surprisingly neat; I always pictured it in my head as sloppy since her grammar was horrible (although it wasn't her fault she was illiterate for years).
All in all, this is not an exhibition to be missed if you are in London. Give yourself an hour or so to dedicate to it and then leave through the opposite exit so that you come out in the citradel right by the restaurant. Order some afternoon tea for two and you are in heaven. Fabulous exhibitions should always be discussed over tea.