They may not be remembered by history, like this unfamiliar subject, but they are pretty enough to pass down for generations of display.
It's not kind to speak ill of the dead, even if that dead man is the paternal grandfather we apparently met a few times as tykes, but he's not exactly a looker. Despite the fact that he is skillfully rendered by accomplished B.C. painter Robert Genn it's hard to know where the inherited painting should live. With no particular connection to the person — he is the divorced father of our divorced father — he's a deftly-done stranger hanging around my brother's house, a visual connection to our genetic past (and perhaps my brother's future).
If Vancouver had a portrait gallery, there may be some interest in acquiring the depiction of this man we never knew as Grandpa, but any value would only be attached to the painter, not the painted. Portrait galleries typically feature those subjects who have had an impact on society, those who have made a difference. I have gazed at crowds of those Important People in my one tour of the National Portrait Gallery in London, most of whom looked a lot like this guy. And I recall Beatrix Potter. And a smattering of pretties. Seething over the fact that there were few or no sisters on the wall I stomped out and headed to the nearest pub. Less than 25 per cent of the Important People in the National Portrait Gallery are women, but you won't spot that statistic on its official website. (It took some digging to mine that factoid.) Judging by the Gallery's own website it appears there is some serious back-peddling to the point where it is actually featuring female subjects.
So perhaps we should all be sighing with relief that there's no historical portrait display of Important People in our town because it would doubtless be a colonialist accumulation of all the second-rate royals and British government officials that are already remembered in a huge chunk of schools, streets and parks in these parts.
However, he's still a dude among dudes who make up most of the minglers on the geo-political stage, remembered in oils by famous artists and hung in prestigious galleries and palatial spaces.
Portrait painters have a hand in remembering. Their own perspective of what is worthy of their efforts has played a part in the patriarchy. The deceased wife of the old man hanging at my brother's house was the accomplished former head librarian at UBC. People still ask me if I'm related to Anne Yandle, whose image will soon be forgotten to history.
Hello, nudes and old men.