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Monday, February 8

What are you looking at?



Who are these people looking at me when I come home? The eyes watching me as I walk around. Are they staring at me or looking out for me?

What do you think about hanging portraits of people as art that are not your own family? Is the thought of it creepy to you? Is it more about buying pieces of art for the look? Do you have portraits of people hanging in your house of people that you don't know?

This has me thinking. I was looking around my house tonight and the eyes of both of these portraits met my eyes with a blank stare. Who were these people? Where did they come from? Where did they live before they came to live with me? I mean I guess you could start thinking about this with anything used that you move into your house. My house is filled with antiques and things that I have found traveling. Makes you wonder and think about the stories and history behind each piece.

Art is very personal. I was drawn to each of these portraits and feel like I almost "rescued" each of these portraits to come and live with me and my house. What kind of art do you have around your house?

23 comments:

red ticking said...

i adore portraits and do have a few but my favorites are very old oil landscapes... i also have a lovely collection of my wonderful boyfriends black and white photographs... he has the most amazing eye... john granen.com ... i love your portraits...they are fabulous with your decor...have a lovely week.. x pam

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I don't have any portraits, but have always liked them. My art runs the gamut. But, your point about antiques and their history has always intrigued me, begging answers to the very questions you posed here. Guess that's why each one I have is among my favorite possessions.

A Perfect Gray said...

Totally into "buying" family members for my walls. As a former antique dealer, I've sold some I wish I'd kept. I'm especially looking for some fun/funky mid-century portraits now, justs for kicks.

Awesome post. Thanks!

style chronicle said...

I am always looking for art to add to the walls around my home. Mainly, I have landscapes but I also have a small collection of pencil drawings of women.

Nate @ Laurelstreetblog.com said...

I love your portraits - they add such a wonderful sense of collected history. They really seem to speak to your antiques. I collect landscapes. Something about them seems lyrical and they always transport me.

"Yeah, that works..!" said...

For years, I inadvertently collected old, old portrait photos (as opposed to paintings) of all sizes. I say inadvertently because I just kept picking them up, not keeping track of just how many I eventually ended up with. So I filled a whole wall with them. Used to be my sister would come visit and make snide remarks about how I chose to display pics of strangers instead of our family. I love the old daguerreotypes and tintypes! More recently I have substituted vintage B&W (real) family photos in black frames. However, I have one cool old tintype of a woman whom I placed smack in the middle of one of these family wall displays - but her frame is red :)

Kathysue said...

Hi Grant, I think it is a little creepy when the subject matter is creepy looking but if the person has a handsome face or a woman with a lovely face that draws you in then I like it. If you are asking this question it sounds as if you might think your guys are a little creepy,hehe. I guess you have to go back to what drew you to them to begin with. I find when I look at a portrait,first I feel a little sad that a family member has not claimed it and then I like to make up a story about the person in my head and wonder what kind of life they lived. OK enough information here, sorry for the book,Kathysue

Kathysue said...

GM Grant I just wanted to let you know that I have mentioned you and your blog on my post on Skirted tables for tomorrow,I love yours and had to use it as an example.Such good inspiration,Kathysue

Carol Ann said...

Years ago we had a oil of my husbands grandfather up in the livingroom...he would follow you with his eyes, when our children were old enough to talk they would tell us they did not like that man...so grandpere Guy is in a crate and in our downtown locker...no one else in the family wanted him...
Grandmere is crated too because the pastel of her is so large no one has a wall for her...
And last move I wrapped up my grandparents engagement pictures in their ornate brass frames and put them away in the locker too...seems I have gone to modern in decor for our antique type art...
I love your paintings, give them names and history and you give them new lives...enjoy them...

Scott Fazzini said...

Grant -I love old portraits of strangers. There is a certain feeling of ease in regards to not knowing the subjects. In my last apartment my boyfriend and I had quite a collection of portraits all concentrated, then, in the entry hall. Unfortunately, I left all of them in the divorce, but I'm slowly starting to rebuild my collection! -Great post!

Diana said...

I saw the most beautiful oil portrait of a sea captain dressed in full regalia at an antique store once. He had the big mustache that men in the late 1800s/early 1900s wore and a slight smile with friendly eyes.

He was very reasonably priced, but that was a year of dire frugality. Of all the stupid things ever put on a credit card, I dearly wish I had charged that sea captain and brought him home with me!

LizaE said...

My husband and I had this very same discussion last night. We were pondering who our "art work" once belonged to. We don't have much, but the conversation was spurred by our latest purchase, four 19th century intaglios that arrived in yesterday's mail. We wondered who their original owner was, and their journey to acquire them (probably on a Grand Tour), and what it must have been like for them to experience new lands. Other pieces we have are sort of creepy to other people but we find them fascinating. French mourning hair art that is made of actual hair from a couple that lived in the early 1800s. You don't notice the hair at all as it is pulverized and treated in a way to depict their tombs and a willow tree. Another mourning piece (again creepy to some) is an English silk and embroidery sampler of a woman weeping by a tomb and urn. Her face and hands are water colored paper cut outs. "Philanthropy and the tomb of Howard" is inked on the back. Even the name has us fascinated and wanting to learn more abut who created it. Your oil paintings are quite beautiful and look perfect in your rooms. I'd love to add some to our walls as they are pretty bare right now.

Anonymous said...

No oil protraits at my home. But I do enjoy Civil War era tintypes. The gold matting has a wonderful patina. And being in the South, you have to be surrounded by a little history. We just moved into a home that is over 150 years old and it antiques seem to "speak" a little more there.

DoxaHome.com said...

When I was growing up, my grandparents...who had super fab mid century modern Asian inspired homes as my grandfather was a developer in the 50's and 60's here in South Florida...anyway, they had a portrait of the famous
Chinese hooker, Suzy Wong, hanging above their bedroom dresser. It was one of those portraits where the eyes follow you....it used to scare the bejesus out of me! Imagine my surprise when many years ago I walked into Philippe Starck's designed Asia de Cuba at the Morgan's Hotel in NYC and saw the very SAME portrait in the lounge area! She's haunting me I tell you...

Windlost said...

Hi Grant,

You know, I was always a little creeped-out by other people's family pictures, but then I came across an old B&W photo from the 1930's (a woman standing in a field with an old camera, facing the viewer)and I loved it. I love photography and have regretted never buying it, as she seemed to have such spirit, a photographer lady in those days in that big field - she really spoke to me. I was an idiot not to have bought it.

Since then I have always looked much more closely at these old photos and paintings - and love to look for people with interesting faces or a sparkle in their eye.

P.S. I am delighted to have found your blog and enjoyed your interview on the SRT! I think we must have been kindred spirits in a past life as so much of what you said resonated with me. Best of luck to you- such a talent you are!

Anonymous said...

To answer some of your questions. First consider that my comments come from the point of view of an art historian and not an interior designer. With that perspective, I think it is wonderful to have portraits, I live with many, and all because of the merit they have as art work. I research, research and research to document them as best I can and with that comes a deeper understanding and appreciation. I think once they move in with you,they are no longer strangers, but part of your family. When you "rescue" a work of art. you become its custodian more than its owner and responsible for its protection, preservation and its life. How you display it should represent the respect you have for it. Your pieces were not chosen for their size color or "decorative" merit which is so often done blatantly in interior design. You have them because you love them and I admire you for that. ANON

Dandy said...

My mom, shell flowers from the 40's, framed fabrics. Stuff. Oh here, see for yourself:

http://magpiepie.blogspot.com/

Kathysue said...

Hi Grant I have my post up with your wonderful skirted bar picture. Thank you for the inspiration I think many of my readers are changing their mind about skirting table, thanks to wonderful ideas like yours, Kathysue

Kathysue said...

Grant, thank you so much for stopping by my new blog, I was so pleased to see your name in the comments. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. It means a lot to me. Kathysue

home before dark said...

My husband's great uncle used to "live" in his family's dining room. He, too, had eyes that traveled with room with you. A bit Great Gatsby and we fear perhaps more than a little Madoff, the family scion was donated to the local library after my mother-in-law died. My father-in-law had enough holiday "conversations" with this one. I like family photographs in black and white. I particularly like the ones with the ladies in big hats and long skirts. Such a time gone by. Would love to find/collect portraits or busts of women writers. There seems to be not an abundance.

Jennifer said...

I recently bought a little portrait that I admired in a shop for a few months. Turns out, it is a repro of a Rembrandt. I have it in my living room and haven't decided if it's creepy there or not. But I do love it!

for the love of a house said...

Hi Grant!
I would say ninety-percent of our art collection is antique landscapes. We do have one portrait - of a very old woman holding a book, that we found in Marseilles, and have named her "Aunt Minerva!" I find her presence in the house very comforting!
joan

ennistbp said...

One of my college friends was a history major, so she hung a huge portrait of Jefferson over her first home's mantle. I was at her house one day when another girl came over and asked, "is that your grandfather?"!!

 

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