Segments in this Video

Origins of Love Portraits (02:16)


Portraits help fulfill the craving for individuals to feel close to one who left or died. Pliny the Elder wrote that drawing began by tracing a lover's silhouette. While love portraits help ease sadness when a loved one dies or leaves, it does not stop time. (Credits)

Childhood Sweethearts (04:39)

Sir Kenelm Digby married his beloved wife Venetia in secrecy because his family did not approve of the match. Upon discovering her death in 1633, he commissioned noted artist Anthony Van Dyck to paint her portrait, before the autopsy commenced. Van Dyck painted Venetia as if she were asleep, with a rosy complexion and silky hair.

Delivered the Painting (03:44)

Digby kept the painting of Venetia with him constantly. Gossip spread throughout the court on the nature of her death and rumors swirled about her flirtations with other men. To countermand the accusations, Digby commissioned Van Dyck to paint a second portrait of Venetia, one that displayed her as prudent and chaste.

The Tiny Cosmetic (03:55)

Richard Cosway became famous for his miniature portraits and invented the stippling effect. Georgian suitors would wear these small paintings as expressions of ardor. Between 12 and 14 people would pose for the artist each day.

Prince of Wales (04:45)

George was one of Cosway's most frequent customers. George sent Mariah Fitzherbert a miniature portrait of just his eye in 1784. Adam Buck painted Richard Edgeworth and 10 of his 22 children.

Mary and Margaret Gainsborough (02:39)

After John Gainsborough went bankrupt, he sent his son Thomas to a London drawing school. When Thomas returned to Suffolk, he found portraiture a lucrative way to provide for his family, although he detested it.

Painting for Love (03:06)

Thomas' first child died as a baby. Simon Schama interprets the painting. Mary Gainsborough married and went insane— her spinster sister Margaret looked after her until death.

Girl Portraiture (04:06)

Lewis Carroll, born Charles Dodgson, photographed the dean of Christ's Church three daughters: Alice, Lorena, and Edith Liddell. Julia Margaret Cameron also captured images of children during the time period. In 1863, Mrs. Liddell banned Dodgson from taking any more pictures of the girls, but relented in 1870.

Victorian Era (02:51)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of the pre-Raphaelite movement, met Jane Morris when she was 17. She married William Morris, and Rossetti married Lizzie Siddal, who died from a laudanum overdose. When William took a trip to Iceland in 1871, he left Jane and his two daughters with Rossetti at Kelmscott Manor.

Colors of the Pre-Raphaelites (03:17)

Tour the rooms of Kelmscott Manor. Rossetti's painting toolbox remains in his studio. In later years, he suffered a nervous breakdown and was plagued by mental illness and addiction, but he continued to paint Jane.

Violent Love (03:03)

Francis Bacon painted portraits of friends from photographs, because he did not wish his friends witness his process. He met George Dyer in a pub. When Dyer and Bacon traveled to Paris to see a retrospective of Bacon's work, Dyer overdosed on drugs and alcohol.

After Dyer's Overdose (02:38)

Bacon started to paint enormous canvases to help alleviate his guilt and create closure. "The Black Triptychs" portrays Dyer and Bacon in individual scenes and together. Dyer is pictured with his chest missing and Bacon's soul is leaking onto the ground.

Birth Inspiration (03:00)

Giving birth to two children within a 12 month period inspired Jenny Sayville to create portraits of mothers with their babies. She was empowered by simultaneously growing a life within herself while creating art on the canvas. Art is the language with which she communicates.

Power of Love Portraits (05:22)

John Lennon decided to pose for the "Rolling Stone" cover because critics blamed Yoko Ono for breaking up the Beatles. Annie Leibovitz photographed the couple in New York City— five hours later, Lennon was killed. Schama describes how the portrait contains every type of love.

Credits: The Look of Love: Episode Four— The Face of Britain (00:37)

Credits: The Look of Love: Episode Four— The Face of Britain

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The Look of Love: Episode 4—The Face of Britain

Part of the Series : The Face of Britain
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



In this film, Simon Schama explores how British artists immortalize love, attempting to defy separation, distance, time, and death. Explore portraits from artists: Anthony Van Dyck, Richard Cosway, Thomas Gainsborough, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Francis Bacon, and Annie Liebovitz.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL115635

ISBN: 978-1-63521-739-1

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.