Forty members boarded the coach, on a cold but sunny day, for our trip to the National Portrait Gallery to see this critically acclaimed exhibition of Picasso’s portraits. Light traffic meant we arrived in Trafalgar Square in plenty of time for coffee before gathering in the Gallery’s new lecture theatre for an introductory talk by Marc Woodhead. Marc, afreelance art historian and artist, gave us a helpful and enjoyable introduction to the exhibition. His interactive, informal style helped us to interpret the more abstract portraits and understand the style and context in which Picasso was working at the time.
After lunch at a local venue, we visited the exhibition. One could not fail to be impressed by Picasso’s immense skill at drawing, both in the detailed natural representations of his wives and lovers and in the remarkable economy of line in his cartoons and caricatures. For me, the room where several portraits of his first wife, Olga, were exhibited, was the favourite. These portraits ranged from the most beautiful amd serene portrait of her in classical style to the sad abstract of her as their relationship was ending.
After tea and the chance to peruse some of the Gallery’s permanent collection, it was time to board our coach for home. Unfortunately, our faithful driver Steve was temporarily caught up in a taxi drivers’ protest which caused gridlock in central London. We took refuge in the nearby National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing shop or a nearby eaterie until he was able to collect us – not too much of a hardship after such an enjoyable visit!