1) THE FOUNTAIN, VILLA TORLONIA, FRASCATI, ITALY (1907) - John Singer Sargent
This came from the recent marvellous National Portrait Gallery exhibition of portraits by John Singer Sargent. In this atmospheric study, a woman has perched herself onto a stone ballustrade to paint her canvas, dressed for the outdoors in her veiled hat and white coat and dress with her brushes arrayed beside her. Her companion relaxes beside her and Sargent has captured him either humourously regarding her painting or closing his eyes for a nap. Behind them the fountain of the painting's title splashes away, matching the white of their clothes and contrasting with the lush green trees beyond. A painting I could stare at for hours...
2) THE REBELLIOUS SLAVE (1513-15) - Michelangelo
From the Louvre in Paris, this is one of the two in Michelangelo's series of slave staues that is not unfinished and seeming to break free from the block of marble that surrounds it. Here a bound slave - with the all-important swath of material over his groin - strains and twists to escape his fate. The similarity facially to his David statue is very noticeable.
3) PORTRAITS OF BATTISTA SFORZA AND FEDERICO DA MONTEFELTRO, DUKE OF URBINO (1465-72) - Piero della Francesca
A double portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino with their city spread out behind them which is one of the many treasures in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Reality dictated their positioning as the Duke has lost an eye and was scarred on the right side of his face from a tournament which had also broke his nose. The Duchess' jewels and brocaded dress accentuate her grave beauty. Oddly the Duke and Duchess are also painted on the reverse on these double portraits in a different pose.
4) PORTRAIT OF GIACOMO DORIA (1533-5) - Titian
This imposing portrait by Titian confers on his sitter all the trops of power - the swaggering volumous black garment, the direct gaze of the merchant who was also a diplomat and the marble column he stands in front of. This can be seen in Oxford's Ashmoleon Museum.
5) OH, JEFF... I LOVE YOU, TOO... BUT... (1964) - Roy Lichtenstein
One of Lichtenstein's classic Pop Art portraits in all it's garish Benday-dotted Magna colour, a picture that while celebrating the banalness of commercial art also holds it's own mystique. Oddly enough, this exhibition felt unsatisfactory.