renaissance portraits

I stayed downtown today. Some of us from CIRCLE

had an interesting lunch in Union Station, discussing research ideas with

some potential applicants. I was also on my cell phone a fair amount,

mostly talking to fellow NACE members

about opportunities to mobilize the organization. In between things, I

ran—literally ran—into the National Gallery. I headed for an

area that I hadn’t been in for a long time, and found myself looking at

a couple of striking portraits of Guiliano de’ Medici, who was murdered

at mass in the Pazzi conspiracy. The Gallery has Botticelli’s amazing


(which looks almost like a fine modern cartoon, with its bold blocks of

color and exeggerated features) and also Verocchio’s large bust

of the same young man. Guiliano is ugly but charismatic; confident or

perhaps arrogant; and very much an individual. I can’t think of anything

else to write about these portraits except art-historical cliches ("Renaissance

individualism," "unsentimental realism" …), but it was

a 25-minute break that will stay with me for a long time.

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