I just had time for a quick pop in at the National Gallery. Not to see the currently flogged exhibit of giant pictures of celebrities, just to breeze through the other portraits. First up, I was face to face with Richard III. I can’t say I was very familiar with him before they dug him up. History is written by the victors and he lost. But he was the subject of one of my very first blog posts, written on my late husband’s site. I admired that he was a king who led his troops into battle himself, not waiting on the sidelines and telling others to go out there and get the job done. Further investigation showed that he was actually a rather good king rather than a villain: removing arbitrary taxes started by Edward IV, supporting personal, property and mercantile rights, allowing bail for the accused rather than immediate confiscation of property. I did a selfie with him, now we are intertwined.
The next gallery was even more exciting. Anchored by portraits of Elizabeth I, the young and the old, there are lots of bog standard portraits of people looking rich and snotty. But in among them is the most amazing portrait, done in the style of a graphic novel. With Death on one side, and fame on the other it shows the story of a man’s life. The sitter would have no doubt preferred a more conventional portrayal, but he was dead and this painting was ordered by his widow. Grief takes you to unexpected and unknown places, and she wanted a different kind of picture of her husband. It’s a remembrance of a life lived, proof that she did the right thing in giving him a good send-off and it’s her tribute to their love.