The Baker Museum Exhibition Lecture
Sittings, Seductions, and the English Portrait
Adam Eaker, Ph.D., Associate Curator, European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Since the Renaissance, English writers have imagined the portrait sitting as a potentially transgressive event, rife with opportunities for flirtation and seduction across class lines. In conjunction with the exhibition Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London, this lecture will explore a body of literary responses to the portrait sitting by figures ranging from Ben Jonson in the 17th century to Robert Browning in the 19th. These texts, including some of the greatest poems in the English language, help us to understand why portraits have held such a central position in English culture — and why they continue to exert such fascination up to the present day.
This presentation is part of the exhibition Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London.