The Easel

13th June 2017

Portraiture rules, Part 1

Semiotics – the study of signs and symbols – is used to analyse a portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Her choice of a (very costly) painting rather than a (costly) photograph “demonstrates her assimilation into the royal family as only wealth can”. The image itself communicates “a modern monarchy consciously keen to assert itself as less ostentatious, yet as a powerful unfading institution nonetheless.”

6th June 2017

“Independent Visions: Helene Schjerfbeck and Her Contemporaries” at Scandinavia House

Her art training had included Paris but by mid-career Schjerfbeck was in rural Finland caring for her mother. This semi-isolation may have helped her find her own voice. Her landscapes are “pleasant”; in contrast her portraits have a “nettlesome gravitas. You’d have to look to late Rembrandt or Bonnard to find a picture that confronts mortality with as much sobriety and candor. [She] deserves a place of prominence in the genre.”