Monday, October 22, 2012

I went to Washington: The portrait gallery

I had told one of the editors-in-residence that I wanted to hit an art gallery down the street. He thought you had to pay for it, and anyway the National Portrait Gallery was a better bet if I was there for the art plus the history. I went ahead and tweaked my (admittedly loosely-planned) itinerary.

Can you identify any of the following people’s historical importance without squinting at the information plaque next to each portrait?

I only got through the first floor (or maybe half the first floor!) of the three floors’ worth of exhibits, but I think that covered the highlights.

It was my first venture into any part of the Smithsonian Institution. I was impressed. Also, I had a nice little chat with one of the gallery’s security guards, who expressed his approbation of my photographic method: Stand gazing at a portrait, slowly taking in the historical facts imparted in its accompanying placard, before photographing it. But what else can a person do when faced with a portrait of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, Scotland and Wales?

P.S. Thank you, Congress, for deciding that people could take pictures in the Smithsonian museums. (Or pass along my thanks to whomever it was that did permit such things.)

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