Monday, November 24, 2008


George S. Pickett, U.S. Army:
Led the futile and bloody assault at Gettysburg
known as Pickett's Charge.

This week, I'm going to feature some photos I took at the National Portrait Gallery last week. Photographing art is often a challenge, but museums provide so many opportunities not only for capturing great art, but also for capturing people interacting with the art. During my recent visit to the NPG, I tried to focus strictly on busts. Here are a couple of examples of my efforts.

In the painting, Harriet Beecher Stowe joined by her contemporary in bust, Susan B. Anthony.
The former, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The latter fought for woman's suffrage.

Several busts were in galleries featuring paints of the subjects' contemporaries. I'll feature an interesting and apropos pairing on Wednesday, along with a book recommendation.

Date Night

Continuing my 100 Strangers series, I was originally intent on photographing the frame around the painting of U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant, but then this couple stepped into the gallery and they became part of the composition. I think I like this better than if I'd simply just photographed the painting in its frame, don't you?


As an aside, I want to call attention to an article in yesterday's Washington Post Travel section about Vienna, Austria. If you are from Vienna or if you've ever lived there (as I have), if you've visited the city on the Blue Danube or have plans to, this is an article worth reading. I'd love to hear what our daily photo bloggers from/in Vienna, the City of Dreams, think of it.

Here is In the Presence of the Past: Vienna's Complicated History is Never Too Far Out of Reach. The article also includes a section on how to get to Vienna, where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and so forth. Any other suggestions for things to see and do in this magical city?


Tomorrow's D.C. Confidential: Funerary Sculpture

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 11/08


GreenCanary said...

I like your "date night" photo. I took a similar picture once, of Renoir's The Dancer. I wanted to get just the painting, but this gentleman stepped into my photo. Afterwards, I thought it made for a better picture. (You can see it here:

D.C. Confidential said...

Canary: Thanks! I like your photo. Coincidentally, I have a similar kind of photo I took last spring at the National Gallery of Art. Check this out. Don't you love a day of picture taking in the museums around here?

marley said...

I think you've done an excellent job photographing these busts. The portraits add an extra dimension. I like the one with the 'strangers' too!

babooshka said...

That top shot is awesome. o way could we do this in the UK.

Maya said...

I love the light on that first bust and I definitely think the one with the couple in it makes it more interesting! Did you talk to them, or are you just imagining they were on a date?

D.C. Confidential said...

Marley: Thanks! I'm trying to change it up a bit when I go to museums and I think this captures that. I also like the photo with the strangers, too!

Babooshka: Is there a restriction on photographing art in the UK? That would be unfortunate.

Maya: I like the two you mention, too. And no, I didn't talk to the couple in the last picture. I'm just assuming they were out for date night. (If I don't photograph a person's face, I generally don't disturb them. But if their face is going to be recognizable either in profile or from the front, I talk to them.)

Bob Crowe said...

I've been in DC a number of times between family trips and business but I never went into this place until early this year. I's fabulous. A lot of diversity of historical portraiture and the top floor contemporary gallery is a blast. I love that Jenny Holzer rotating light column. Everybody should go here and it doesn't get enough attention. You have given us a very good sample.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is looking great DC. I love the fallen leaves and your stained glass windows. Such beauty!

Anonymous said...

PS. we can't photograph the art/museums here either. Even local exhibtions prohibit it.I am always amazed you can!

D.C. Confidential said...

Bob: The National Portrait Gallery and the SAAM are definitely easily overlooked because they aren't right on the Mall, but they're among the best museums in the Smithsonian system, in my opinion! That and the National Gallery of Art's West Wing. Love that museum! The next time you're in town, give a shout and we'll hook up at the Portrait Gallery.

Lisa: Thanks! Re: photography in museums--we aren't allowed to snap pics in special exhibits, but in the permanent collections you can take all the pictures you want. I'm glad we aren't restricted in that. It's frustrating enough with just the special exhibits. If it was everything, I'd probably never go to the museums!