Contemplating Character explores the evolution of portraiture from the late eighteenth century to the contemporary, reflecting the many styles and movements during this wide expanse of time. The 150 works encompass artist self-portraits by the likes of Gustave Dore, Adolf von Menzel, Edouard Vuillard, Dora Maar (one of Pablo Picasso’s partners), and even Alfred Hitchcock (a line drawing of his famous profile). Others include portraits of other artists, family members and friends, and famous people, among them a rare, early profile of George Washington and another of author Oscar Wilde.
The collection focuses on rare portraits, many capturing the deeper personality of the subjects. Lucian Freud, for example, is known for his penetrating portraits, and there are even two drawings by the legendary cartoon artist R. Crumb.