There’s no denying it: we have a soft spot for vintage portraits. And the older and crustier, the better.
We love the direct gazes, the shy smiles and even the uptight glances and uber-formal postures of old portraits and their subjects. Portraits capture a real person in a specific moment in time and it’s fun to figure out the clues to an era: is that a hoop skirt? Ringlets? Doublet and sword? Was he a pirate or a lord? Was she a 18th century housewife? And don’t even get us started on the stories we’ll make up to go with a portrait.
We like to have a connection to the subject: do they look kind? Does that twinkle in the eye mean they had a great sense of humor? Or…never mind, that one just looks unhappy and not very nice.
When we’re shopping in France for goodies for Huff Harrington Home, our eyes will hone in on a portrait from a hundred yards away and we’ll make a beeline for it. Take a look at some of the portraits we’ve had and see if you feel the same magic we do (sorry, some are sold but several will be arriving next week on our newest container. You can check here soon for updates):
We’ve been obsessed with hanging a portrait wall either at the gallery or at the store but, darn it, the subjects keep getting snapped up before we can collect a grouping. Portraits are such fun to hang – they add gravitas, personality and a glimpse to the past. They’re a conversation piece and, if needed, a long-lost noble for your family tree.
We love pairing vintage portraits with clean, modern interiors and either grouping them together or finding a special spot for them to be center-stage:
Over the years, we’ve unearthed, dusted off, haggled over and shipped home dozens of portraits. Here are more of our favorite friends:
Like the subjects they portray, you have to have a connection with a portrait. Is the face interesting? Approachable? Mysterious? Sombre and distant? And sometimes we find a resemblance between a living person and the portrait’s subject, like this guy we unearthed at a fair in northeastern France. Doesn’t he look just like the French actor Gerard Depardieu?
We swear this man reminds us either of the Titantic’s Captain Smith or the very cute boyfriend of a Huffington daughter:
And then there’s this at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington that just gave us chills:
There was a great article last week about a writer who grudgingly fell in love with a portrait and how it now has the place of honor in her home. We can relate: even though we love 99% of the portraits we come home with, there are some that we have to politely turn down. It turns out that sourpuss faces aren’t attractive in any era (although we did find out that back in the day, smiling for a portrait was consider rather gauche so that explains a lot):
So, as long as we can keep uncovering these old portraits on our buying trips, we’re going to keep doing it – and adding to our growing collection of long-lost friends (all of whom who keep an eye on us from their spots on the walls!)
Finally, which one of these paintings is your favorite and why? We’d love to know.
P.S. we’re excited to host artist Lorraine Christie at the gallery this coming Saturday, November 17th at 2 p.m. for a meet-and-mingle. We’ll be showing a new body of exquisite work from Lorraine and serving the bubbles so hope you can stop by.