Shelf Appeal isn’t so much all about the art. There are much more interesting things on the shelf. Like design, fashion (or costume to be proper), graphics, books, toys..
But portraits have always had a pull. I’d long known of the painting The Tailor by Giovanni Morroni, a rare and lovely image in the grand style but of a working man. So I trundled down to the lesser-spotted (to me) Royal Academy to see their show of Morroni’s work. To see what else, or rather who else, he painted.
To find the tailor wasn’t the only or even the main pull in the exhibition. Morroni’s ladies were the thing. Absolutely mesmeric portraits of sixteenth century women of substance, status and intrigue. Women not smiling but thinking, looking elsewhere. Against tasteful putty grey backgrounds, with nothing to distract from the interest of their faces. Their costumes, too, were most beautiful. Morroni could certainly paint a pinked damask, slashed or woven silk, a lace collar. But the faces held forth.
This was my favourite face in the show; a portrait of a woman. I stood admiring her for a while as the Barbour-clad, blow-dried artelligensia shuffled past behind me.