National Portrait Gallery Acoustiguide/Podcast
In 2008, the National Portrait Gallery selected portraits of famous people, from royals to scientists to celebrities in the literary arts and movies for their acoustiguide series. This podcast revolves around the history of the gallery itself. However, you will not find any reproductions of these portraits when you download this in podcast.
Divided by sections of fame, the podcast gives an introduction, than talks about the portraits themselves. Interestingly with a dash of irony, the acoustiguide points out any truths left out by the painters. They do give back story on the painters themselves, often reading out their writings. But overall, the subjects’ reputation swamp over the painters. Narrators point out any styles found in each portrait. In the Oliver Cromwell podcast, it seems that the man preferred the Verism style popularized by the Roman Republic, as he demanded that all his flaws show up in the painting. Any instrumental music provided uses triumphant horns in the royal section, delicate piano music in the celebrity section, or delicate guitar music for the writer’s section. As if the royals themselves plan to enter and expect the usual deference automatically given to them.
The Science section focuses on portraits of Sir Christopher Wren and Stephen Hawking. With a passage from Hawking himself. They do feature one woman artist in the series. On women, the acoustiguide fills the fame and celebrity section with practically only women. The writers section mention that the portrait’s reality versus what writers really looked like remains up for speculation. I am currently reading Emma (my first Austen book), which makes me appreciate her portrait. Every time I see her gaze, I imagine her amused by everything around her and recording it for her stories. In fact, amazing how portrait artists stretch the truth in a medium that you’d think would act as an important factor in creating a good portrait. Of course, from ancient Egypt to now, people still alter portraits to make the subjects look more acceptable to the public.