The rambunctious historian Simon Schama, best known in the art world for his Emmy award winning documentary series The Power of Art, is back in the autumn with a National Portrait Gallery exhibition alongside a new book and television series called The Face of Britain. Schama has hardly been idle since his 2013 The Story of the Jews documentary. The project is driven by his fascination with portraiture and particularly the work of prolific Dutch painter, Rembrandt. Expect iconic British characters throughout the ages at the National Portrait Gallery this autumn, from singer Amy Winehouse to the explorer Francis Drake.
Simon Schama & National Portrait Gallery exhibition 2015
Schama hopes that the display will encourage us all to start looking at each other properly, rather than through the lens of the selfie stick: “go and travel on the tube and you’ll see people are losing that sense of actually eyeballing each other. It is something which is absolutely elemental, it’s our first human act”. Curiously, Schama reminds us that it was Hogarth who noted the one full-sized organ every human is born is the eyeball.
Simon Schama | The Face of Britain
The five displays at the National Portrait Gallery, London take a stroll through the history of British portraiture in a series of themes: Power, Love, Fame, People and Self. Particular highlights are Sir Winston Churchill's unforgettable portrait by Yousuf Karsh, where the British bulldog glowers at the photographer having just had his cigar snatched from his lips, and Annie Leibovitz's photograph of a vulnerable and naked John Lennon curled around Yoko Ono, hours before his assassination in New York. Other famous characters to be found include stern a Tudor portrait of Elizabeth I, Royal Academy President Joshua Reynolds, leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade William Wilberforce and the blood drenched head by contemporary artist Marc Quinn.
Chief Curator Dr Tarnya Cooper leads the team at NPG to create this display with Simon Schama, where we can commune with the greatest of Great Britain.
|What||The Face of Britain: Simon Schama, National Portrait Gallery|
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE | MAP
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
16 Sep 15 – 04 Jan 16, Open daily 10:00-18:00 Thursday-Friday until 21:00
|Website||Click here for more details|