The Easel

24th May 2022

Seen as They Are

Paul, a British portraitist, discusses the genre. “Rembrandt depicts himself in old age as he is—the squashy nose and sagging jowls—but it is clear that he accepts himself. Lucian’s [Freud] and Rodin’s main subject is ‘flesh’ [but their] emotion is sometimes overblown and theatrical. Old age has always been my subject matter. I often think of those old women [subjects]… and I wonder at their inner reserves … riven as they all must be by memories and fear of the approaching dark.”

Gainsborough’s ‘Blue Boy’

When Gainsborough painted this famous work, the “fancy picture” was fashionable. These were pictures intended for public viewing, sentimental and often featuring children. Blue Boy was intended as one of these but isn’t entirely successful. It is “rather brown” which, in reproductions, makes the blue stand out. This masks the “shortcomings of [Gainsborough’s] colour management … the fabric never really shines, it just tells us it does.”