Sunday, November 3, 2019

"All in the Family"

3-3/4 x 6"
oil on panel

Lucky me, I got to visit the National Gallery of Art in DC last weekend - the same weekend the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros were in town for the World Series.  At a minimum of $1,000 a ticket, I could only opt for an afternoon at a free art museum but hey, it was great being there again.

If you breeze through the galleries, sometimes you'll miss out on the fun facts of a painting - like Francois-Hubert Drouais's Family Portrait, notably dated April 1, 1756.  You may guess it's Christmas Day because of the gifts and decorations in the scene but no, it was April Fool's Day as we know it now.  Before the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582, the medieval calendar marked New Year's Day as March 25th, the vernal equinox - and the 1st of April marked the beginning of spring.  Many people would, and still do, celebrate by exchanging springtime gifts on that day - this informal family portrait showing the little girl giving flowers to her mother, the husband reading a poem to his wife as she points to the daughter as a symbolic gift to her husband. Very sweet.

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