Monday, 17 November 2008

Renaissance Faces

I took Saturday afternoon out all for myself and went up to the National Gallery to see the exhibition of Renaissance Faces.It was fascinating, peering into the faces of these people long dead, and wondering about their lives, their motivations, their passions, their characters. There were faces that I took an instant dislike to, wouldn't trust for a moment or would expect to be cruel and manipulating; plenty of villains for a story. There were faces I liked: one, beautiful and peaceful, at ease with herself whom I would aspire to be; a handsome, passionate young man who would rival Brad Pitt for smouldering good looks; a slightly shy young woman, peeping from under her headdress, the life-long companion of a priest, with whom she had a number of children although they never married, it was a painting intimate in its fondness. There were brash, calculating, shrewd and sentimental faces. Paintings of fathers, sons, wives and friends. Paintings stunning in their skill and execution.
A full-length self-portrait with the artist's hand extended to the viewer, standing, as it were, in the mirror, his other hand in the background drawing on the very piece of paper I am looking at hundreds of years later.
Blanche, daughter of Henry IV of England, wealthy and privileged, born and married into European Royalty, and now dead and forgotten.

I would love to take the children and, while I was happy to wander and absorb, I think they would need some more structure. I'm thinking that many of the paintings would make excellent starting points for stories, there were a few of royalty to place in history and a funny portrait composed entirely of fruit. With little planning and a few activity ideas, I think this would make a great Day Out.

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