In a visit to the National Gallery in London, I noticed there were quite a few portraits of young men. Bronzino's gazes directly at me, he seems a man engaged with life, whilst another looks thoroughly bored with life, ennui seeping through the oil.
I was fascinated to see how so many painters convincingly rendered eyes. In Brozino's portrait the eyelash was simply painted with one upturned flick at the top edge of the eye. My quick sketch does not capture this quality, but it was a wonderful freedom to be able to sit, draw and contemplate the painting more fully. It made me think of Betty Churcher when she went to re-visit her favourite paintings when she was losing her sight and of the welcome those big institutions gave her, often giving her access after hours. Her gift was to encourage us to stop and wonder about art.
In the gift shop there are Van Gogh finger puppets - disappointingly they have two ears. My favourite snatch of overheard conversation was some advice from a wife to her husband as she pointed to the label next to a painting "If you read it, it explains". True on so many levels!