Discover the Hilarious Side of Art:
10 Funniest Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a great place to visit if you’re in the mood for some serious art and culture. But let’s be real, sometimes you just need to lighten the mood and have a good laugh. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the top 10 funniest portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals

The first portrait on our list is “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals. This guy looks like he’s having the time of his life, and honestly, we could all use a little more laughter in our lives. This painting depicts a man in a ruffled collar and a wide-brimmed hat, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye and a broad smile on his face. The man in the portrait exudes a sense of carefree joy and confidence, as if he has not a worry in the world.

The artist, Frans Hals, was known for his ability to capture the essence of his subjects in a single moment, and “The Laughing Cavalier” is a prime example of this skill. With loose, impressionistic brushstrokes, Hals has created a sense of movement and energy in the portrait, as if the man is about to burst out laughing at any moment.

The Arnolfini Portrait

One of the most iconic paintings of the National Portrait Gallery is “The Arnolfini Portrait” by Jan van Eyck. Painted in 1434, this portrait depicts a man and a woman standing in the middle of a room, surrounded by luxurious objects. The couple is believed to be Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, but the true identity of the subjects remains a mystery. The painting is known for its realism and attention to detail, but it’s also a source of humor and intrigue. The couple’s expressions and gestures have been the subject of many interpretations, with some suggesting they may be discussing the merits of the latest episode of “The Bachelor,” or maybe they’re just trying to decide where to go for dinner. Whatever the case may be, “The Arnolfini Portrait” is a must-see for anyone visiting the National Portrait Gallery, and it’s a work of art that will leave you both captivated and amused.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

One of the most iconic and recognizable works of art in the world, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch is a must-see at the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait depicts a figure standing on a bridge, with a screaming or howling expression on their face, while the swirling sky behind them is painted in shades of red, orange and yellow. The figure is usually interpreted as a representation of the modern human condition, expressing feelings of alienation and existential angst. The Scream is considered as a masterpiece of Expressionism, a movement that aimed to express emotions and feelings through art.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

“The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most iconic and recognizable paintings in the world. It is a portrait of a woman, believed to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. The painting is known for its enigmatic smile, which has captivated audiences for centuries. The Mona Lisa’s smile has been the subject of much speculation and debate, with some experts suggesting that it is a symbol of femininity and others believing it is a representation of the sitter’s inner thoughts and emotions. The painting’s background landscape is also a source of fascination, with some experts suggesting that the winding road and winding river symbolize the winding path of life. The painting is housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France and it is considered one of the greatest masterpieces in the world.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

“The Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer is a classic painting that has captivated audiences for centuries. The painting depicts a young girl, dressed in a simple blue and yellow turban, with a pearl earring adorning her ear. The enigmatic expression on the girl’s face has led to the painting being referred to as “The Dutch Mona Lisa.” The use of light and color in the painting is masterful, and it creates an almost ethereal effect. The girl’s gaze seems to be directed out of the painting, making it feel as though she is looking directly at the viewer. This painting is considered one of Vermeer’s most successful works and it is considered a masterpiece of Dutch Golden Age painting. “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” is housed in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

“The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli is a masterful work of art that depicts the goddess Venus emerging from the sea as a fully-formed woman. The painting is a classic example of Botticelli’s unique style, featuring a serene and ethereal Venus in the center of the composition, surrounded by a lush and idyllic landscape. The colors and brushwork used in the painting are incredibly delicate and nuanced, creating an almost dreamlike effect. This masterpiece is not only a celebration of beauty and love, but also a reflection of the ideals of the Renaissance and the humanistic values that underpinned it. The painting is housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy and it’s considered one of the most iconic and recognizable works of art in the world.

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

“The Night Watch” by Rembrandt is one of the most famous and iconic paintings in the National Portrait Gallery. This masterpiece depicts a group of soldiers, led by Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, as they march into battle. The painting is known for its dramatic use of light and shadow, which creates a sense of movement and action. The soldiers in the painting look like they’re about to go on a wild adventure, and we’re pretty sure they’re not laughing. Despite its serious subject, the painting’s composition and use of color make it a must-see piece of art. It’s a great example of Rembrandt’s skillful use of light and shadow, and it’s definitely worth a visit to the National Portrait Gallery.

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali is a surrealist painting that depicts a dreamlike landscape with melting watches draped over various objects. The painting is considered one of Dali’s most famous works and is known for its striking imagery and the way it challenges our understanding of time. The melting watches in the painting represent the fluidity and distorted nature of time, while the objects they’re draped over symbolize the hard, unchangeable nature of matter. The painting also features a distorted face, which is thought to represent the subconscious mind and the way memories can change over time. Overall, “The Persistence of Memory” is a thought-provoking and visually striking piece that continues to fascinate audiences to this day.”

The American Gothic by Grant Wood

“The American Gothic” by Grant Wood is a classic painting that is well-known for its striking image of a farmer and a woman, who is assumed to be his daughter, standing in front of a gothic-style house. The painting was completed in 1930 and has become an iconic representation of rural America. The couple’s expressions are stoic and unsmiling, which adds to the overall somber tone of the painting. However, the painting is also known for its satire of small-town American values and the cultural idealization of rural life. It has been interpreted as a commentary on the harsh realities of life in rural America during the Great Depression and the idealization of the past. The painting is a great example of how art can be both serious and funny at the same time.

The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt

“The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Gustav Klimt is a true masterpiece and a must-see for any art lover visiting the National Portrait Gallery. Painted in 1907, this portrait depicts Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a wealthy Jewish businessman, in a stunning golden dress, adorned with intricate patterns and designs. The use of gold leaf in this painting is a hallmark of Klimt’s style, and it gives the portrait a magical, otherworldly feel. Adele’s gaze is mysterious and captivating, and it’s hard not to get lost in her eyes. This painting was considered lost during WWII but later recovered and now it’s on display in the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a perfect example of Klimt’s signature style and one of the most famous works of art of the 20th century. 

In conclusion, The National Portrait Gallery is a treasure trove of art, history, and culture. From the classic masterpieces to the lesser-known gems, the gallery offers something for everyone. And while the artwork on display is undoubtedly serious, it’s always good to take a step back and have a good laugh. The top 10 funniest portraits at the National Portrait Gallery provide a perfect opportunity to do just that. Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking for a fun day out, the National Portrait Gallery is definitely worth a visit. So pack your sense of humor, and head on over to the National Portrait Gallery for a good laugh and a fresh perspective on art!

HBCU Cover photo

How to Plan a HBCU College Tour

All prospective college students should take HBCU college campus tours. The next step for students after deciding on their major is picking the best college. According to Melissa E. Wooten, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, “[HBCUs] are a crucial arena for the fight for civil rights and equality” (Wooten, 2015).

Read More »