One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do something interesting every weekend, even if I have to spend the rest of the weekend working or preparing my US tax return or otherwise stuck in front of a computer.
This weekend I picked the National Portrait Gallery. I had never visited before because, well, I assumed it would be kind of boring. Turns out? Fascinating!
So many famous portraits of even more famous people. There were the obvious ones, of course (the Tudors!), but then I would get to a room full of white men in dark suits and I’d think, “Oh, I can go quickly through this one” only to discover that these were portraits of politicians, thinkers, writers, artists, or other persons of note who I knew from history books, novels and their own writings. So I’d stop and look and seeing their faces would make them become a bit more real to me.
The photos below show Elizabeth I (twice — the second one will always remind me of my first Norton Anthology of English literature), Anne Boleyn (with her iconic “B” necklace), Shakespeare (one of the few done from life and the very first acquisition by the gallery when it opened), and the Duke of Buckingham (reputed to be the handsomest and most powerful man in Europe during the reign of James I; and made even more fun as the arch-nemesis of the Three Musketeers).
Museum-going is hard work, so I found a little pizza shop around the corner up a side street to Leicester Square. It’s a chain that’s also in Seattle, so while it was a bit of a cheat in terms of “experiencing London”, it did bring back some happy memories.
I bet some of the paitings were absolutely beautiful. Being able to put a face to a name makes history much more interesting.
And pizza is right anytime…