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Description of Pictures: A really big highlights tour group due in large part to publicity in the Washington Post. (Article below)
Get a closeup of the National Portrait Gallery during its Docent's Choice Tours
Friday, January 8, 2010
Museums can be overwhelming: They're crowded. They're big. And they're chock-full of stuff. Where do you even begin?
This weekend, begin with a tour of the National Portrait Gallery.
"If you like history and biography, this is the museum for you," said Liane Lunden, an extremely knowledgeable docent of 15 years. "My purpose," she continued, "is to whet your appetite [so you] become as enchanted with this place as I am."
The tour, called "Docent's Choice Tour," is more of a history lesson than an aesthetic one. We learned about Alexander Hamilton, Lunden's favorite historical figure. ("His life reads like an adventure story," she said.) We learned about Belva Ann Lockwood, a woman who twice ran for president in the 19th century. (She got 4,000 votes in 1884, Lunden told us.) We learned about Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in 1852. (Her publisher thought she would sell 10,000 books the first year. She sold 300,000, Lunden said.)
Lunden encouraged everyone to take a second look at the paintings and try to figure out what they say about their subjects. Looking at a self-portrait of John Singleton Copley, an 18th-century American painter who spent time in England and Italy, Lunden thought he looked "heartsick. Maybe he wants to be back home." Of Cecilia Beaux's self-portrait, she noted, "She's part of the woodwork. . . . She's just a servant of her art." She compared Edgar Degas's portrait of Mary Cassatt with Cassatt's self-portrait, which depicts a younger, softer Cassatt. "Try to find the story behind the picture," Lunden said.
Upstairs, we saw a few presidents' portraits, including the famous George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and Alexander Gardner's April 10, 1865, photograph of Abraham Lincoln that is said to have foreshadowed ...More...
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2010 photos: Equipment this year: I mostly used the Fuji S100fs until the third one broke and I started sending them back for repairs. Then I used either the Fuji S200EHX or the Nikon D90 until I got the S100fs ones repaired. At the end of the year I bought a Nikon D5000 but I returned it pretty quickly.
Trips this year: I've got so many local commitments that I'm having trouble getting away. I drove out to Lexington, Kentucky to cover the Civil War Preservation Trust's annual conference in June. I flew out to California and Nevada for two weeks in July for the San Diego Comic-Con. I flew to Nashville to cover the Civil War Preservation Trust's Grand Review conference in September.
My office at the main Commerce Department building closed in October and I was shifted out to the Bureau of the Census in Suitland Maryland. It's good to have a job of course but that killed being able to see basically any cultural events during the day. There's basically nothing of interest that you can see around the Census building.
Number of photos taken this year: about 395,000..