The paintings in this exhibition include a range of portraits showing people in seated and standing poses. In most cases, the subjects look directly at the artist who is representing them, and by extension, at the viewer contemplating the finished canvases. The individuals can be anonymous, as in Frank Duveneck’s Study of an Old Man and Peter Lely’s Portrait of a Lady, or specific men and women, including Edward Franklin Fisk’s Mary Daniel and the Portrait of Dr. James Wynn Coburn, made by an unknown American artist. Their facial expressions and body gestures are precise, giving us clues to interpreting how they feel in the moment, and perhaps who they are in society. They may also shed light on how we negotiate our own identities, from the clothes we wear to the confidence or anxiety our bodies project.
We will utilize this exhibition to prompt writing exercises with various UK classes and community members. For example, imagine yourself having a conversation with one of these figures. What would you discuss? Or think of a monologue presented by one of the individuals depicted. What would they say?
Edward Franklin Fisk, Mary Daniel, 1938, oil on canvas. Collection of the UK Art Museum, gift of Allie Hendricks and Milton Fisk.
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