It is hard to choose just one piece in the Princeton Art Museum to love. Right now, my favorite work in the Picturing Power exhibit is John Bright by Giuseppe Fagnani.
When you first enter the museum, there are white walls and open space. This is the modern room. The pieces here change fairly often and they tend to be modern works by contemporary artists. To get to my current favorite piece, you will have to walk up the stairs and leave hard wood floors that echo for a carpeted room with deep blue walls covered in portraits.
Encountering the exhibit for the first time, you might feel overwhelmed. My eyes couldn’t settle in just one place, every piece calling my attention. Salon style, the way this exhibit is displayed, originated in the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In the mid-1600s, they had so many pieces created by their graduates to display that they would arrange all the works one on top of the other to make them all fit in one room. Some people say that salon style can hide a really great work, because it gets lost in the grouping.
Stand in the middle of the room and spin around to get a glimpse of every piece. When I did this, Mr. Bright caught my eye. He seems to be looking at one of my other favorite pieces, Portait of Sarah Harrop (Mrs. Bates) as a Muse by Angelica Kaufman. The two portraits seem to be looking at each other. So, maybe the title of this post is misleading. It isn’t necessarily the painting that is my favorite, but the way these two portraits are situated.
The Picturing Power exhibit is only in the museum for the Spring semester. It leaves on June 30th. If you have time, stop in, see what you find and maybe you will be inspired!