Sunday, December 16, 2012

From the Library Citizens of the Republic: Portraits from the Dutch Golden Age

Where: National Gallery of Art, West Building

When: through February 3, 2013

Hard as I find it to believe, I'm already seeing exhibits that will be closing in February 2013.  I always try to stay a bit ahead of the closings, so I'm not scrambling to see things at the last minute, but it does make me realize how quickly 2012 is drawing to a close... 

Lots of exhibits closing in February, but none at all so far in March; I know that will change, but still, it's odd to look through the list of shows and see no mention of an entire month.

I combined three small exhibits at the National Gallery into one visit last week; this is the first one I saw.  The Gallery has two spaces in which to display items from their library - one is the library itself in the East Building; the other is a small room in the West Building.  I'm almost always the only person in the West Building area, which, as long-time readers of this blog will know, is an experience I find restful.  I might have benefited from some other viewers this time, as I'm not  entirely sure what I saw.  Based on the title, I'm assuming these are portraits of Dutch people from the 1600s, but other than that, your guess is as good as mine.  Usually, there's some sort of explanation affixed to the wall - I always look for that first whenever I go to see an exhibit, but this time, nothing.  There was a fairly substantial brochure available for visitors to peruse, but I really didn't want to read through pages of closely-written text.  It would have taken me as long to do that as to look at the pictures.

One thing that struck me as I looked at the portraits - it makes no difference how high up in society these Dutch people were, they all looked like shopkeepers.  I'm sure it's simply because I knew they were Dutch that I could see all of them standing behind a counter, offering me fish or fabrics, but there's something in their countenances that makes one think: prosperous merchant.

Verdict: If you miss it, you're not missing anything wildly exciting, unless you're a great fan of Dutch portraiture.

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