Sir Thomas Lawrence, Julia, Lady Peel (1827), oil on canvas, 35-3/4″ x 27-7/8″; courtesy The Frick Collection
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Yeah, there are any number of masterpieces lining the walls of The Frick Collection meriting greater attention than Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of a Prime Minister’s wife. And, yeah, having regularly trawled the halls of The Frick for umpteen some years, I may have become somewhat blasé about the usual suspects on display–you know, Ingres, Rembrandt, Duccio, Vermeer, Memling, ho-hum, blah-blah-blah.
There’s a certain novelty to be had in being enamored of a painting one hasn’t previously spent much time with or, in fact, noticed. But, I mean, really: that cascading shock of red, those porcelain surfaces, the fine air of melancholy, those eyes, those lips, that neck . . . oh, but I’m letting that pesky ol’ Male Gaze run away with me. Which is testament aplenty to the merits of Lawrence’s fetching picture.
© 2011 Mario Naves