Exploring the Evolution of Portraiture Art

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33-Rossi-2-898x1024Vanni Rossi (Italian, 1894-1973)
Self-Portrait Smoking (1920)
Oil on canvas
Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson



Contemplating Character

Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud

There is still time to visit the Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings & Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud that will be on display at the museum through May 29, 2016. The exhibition features 152 rare portrait drawings and oil sketches from the late eighteenth into the twenty-first century, drawn from the remarkable collection of Robert Flynn Johnson.

Lucian Freud, one of our time’s most provocative portrait painters and the grandson of the pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, once noted: “I’ve always wanted to create drama in my pictures, which is why I paint people. It’s people who have brought drama to pictures from the beginning. The simplest human gestures tell stories.”

In addition to David and Freud, other works by selected such artists include: Théodore Rousseau, Edgar Degas, Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Elie Nadelman, Frank Stella, and George Bellows. Four drawings are by Adolf von Menzel, whose name may be unfamiliar to many Americans. He was one of Germany’s most admired artists working in the nineteenth century. Degas called him “the greatest living master.”

There are two portraits of Jacques-Louis David, one while he was in prison. A supporter of the French Revolution, David was imprisoned after the fall of Robespierre and later found favor with Napoleon. There are others of the English Romantic poet-artist William Blake, American author Washington Irving, influential British critic-artist John Ruskin, French symbolist Odilon Redon, and the great American realist Thomas Eakins in silhouette.

The exhibition has many other gems, including a miniature portrait of George Washington (around 1795) by an anonymous artist and Bonnard’s Crying Woman (about 1890-1895), created in a flowing, seemingly spontaneous line.

Contemplating Character was organized by Robert Flynn Johnson with Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California, in association with Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, California.     M

Contemplating Character:
Portrait Drawings & Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud
Museum of Fine Arts through May 29, 2016
For more information and hours,

visit or call 727.896.2667.






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Tampa Bay Metro Magazine & Blog

May 4, 2016 |
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