Piece: William Shakespeare
Artist: John Taylor
About: John Taylor may well be the wrong name. But he’s certainly considered the most likely person to have painted the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare. It hangs in the Portrait Gallery, and was in fact the founding piece of their collection. It’s the most famous portrait of Shakespeare, perhaps because its the only known painting that could’ve been painted from a live sitting – all other paintings date to years following his death.
Piece: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
Artist: Édouard Manet
About: This is Manet’s final major work, and he certainly went out with a bang. The painting shows a bar lady at work in a famous Parisienne music hall. Whilst it’s hotly debated, most believe Manet has consciously shifted perspective here to show the two faces of a bar person. Look at her face, and you see sadness – distant, bored and cold. But in the mirror over her right shoulder, we see she’s merrily entertaining one of the bar’s patrons (perhaps that’s meant to be us, the viewer) – she’s incredibly close and leaning in. The Guardian called it “one of the keystones of modern art.”