Posts Tagged ‘national portrait gallery’

Juliet and her pals



The Situation Group by Sylvia Sleigh, 1961 © National Portrait Gallery, London This portrait is on display in Room 6817.


The Situation Group by Sylvia Sleigh

Now this is exactly how I imagine Juliet to be, surrounded by the artists she nurtures and admires – often a lone woman amid a sea of men. Like the fictional artists in ‘The Gallery of Vanished Husbands’ the artists depicted in ‘The Situation Group’ are strongly influenced by thrilling new work coming from America and hanker after the modern. I like the clean lines of the painting, and the thoughtful expression on the face of the only woman. She wears elegant black and none of the playful red that several of the men display on their ties. It must be lonely and take a certain strength of character to be a woman operating in the male dominated art scene of the ‘60s.  I also love the chap in large, David Hockney spectacles at the centre of the painting – so evocative of the era.

A woman of audacity…



Anna Zinkeisen by Anna Katrina Zinkeisen, circa 1944 © National Portrait Gallery, London

This portrait is on display in Room 5884.

I’ve always admired Anna Katrina Zinkeisen’s self-portrait. Self-portraits are particularly fascinating – one often feels a bit of a voyeur as if we’ve caught the artist at a private moment studying herself in the bathroom mirror. Here, Zinkeisen is ready to be discovered – she’s smartly dressed for the occasion, and holds her brushes in her hand. During the Second World War she was a medical artist, painting wounds for the Royal College of surgeons, a task that must have required a steady hand and a steadier stomach. I think that unflinching gaze reveals a woman capable of such things but I also love the bold flash of red at her cuff and collar and dabbed on her unsmiling mouth. I imagine the character of Juliet Montague to be a similarly audacious woman – able to negotiate her way through the ‘60s art scene, an outsider but with a dash of red lipstick.