Shall I commission a portrait?
Meet my great great grandfather, Charles Gayler, a successful and famous playwright of the mid-18th century. He looks down on me at my desk, reminding me of a family legacy of artistic achievement.
I had not ever considered having a portrait made of myself until my husband and I visited an artist friend, Mia Wolff, who had recently created a series of interesting portraits. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, if we commissioned portraits of us! It would help Mia support her artistic career, and it would provide us with a very special art piece. The cost was $1,000 – a fair price.
A recent portrait of Kate Middleton drew these savage critiques, “She looks like the head bouncer in a security firm,” “It looks as if the painter asked the subject to ‘say cheese!’” and “It is perfectly adequate for the boardroom of a supermarket…” (quoted in The New York Times). I am wondering how refined my judgment is of artistic ability, and whether Mia likes me. She used to date my husband, and what if some unconscious resentment erupts in her representation of my nose or my wrinkles? I don’t think so, but what if? Will she ask me to smile, to sit/stand/lie down? Will I be looking straight on or rakishly from the side? What quirks in my facial contours will Mia reveal? Will she catch my spirit as my great great grandfather’s portraitist caught his bonhomie?
If I want my great-great-granddaughter to be able to take a little inspiration from my life, this might be a risk worth taking. Writing runs in the family, and she might be a writer, too.
Best to go for it. I’ll post it when it’s finished. It is satisfying to think I might be looking down upon my own great great granddaughter.