Nearly five years ago, I remodeled the finished half of my basement, such that it now comprises a library featuring recordings and books about classical music. And I’d been seeking one or two decorations involving a favorite composer, Handel.
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) is renowned, of course, as the composer of the oratorio Messiah. But he wrote many other oratorios, operas, cantatas, and instrumental works, some of which, in my opinion, surpass his excellent but perennially overhyped signature work.
Anyway, I was having no luck finding any attractive, framable, affordable portraits (quality prints) of Handel until I discovered that the renowned National Portrait Gallery in London, England sells them online via its gift shop. Let me explain how you can access their informative, entertaining, multifaceted, easy-to-navigate site to take a gander at (and, if you wish, purchase prints of) some appealing Handelian portraits, not to mention sundry splendid objets d’art.
First, go to the National Portrait Gallery homepage at “www.npg.org.uk”. Then click the “gift & bookshop” link (in tiny print near the top of the page). Click the “Prints made to order” link (in the middle of the page, adjacent to a graphic). Click the ‘search’ link (blue text within the “Step #1” instructions). Click the “Portrait” button, then type and enter the word “Handel” in the “search” field.
The resulting page displays various portraits of Handel. The first choice, “NPG 1976”, involves the first of two prints that I myself ordered. [The fifth choice, “NPG 3970”, is the other Handelian print that I ordered.] Now click either of the displayed links to get a more detailed view (and, perchance, to proceed to purchase one for yourself).
You can enlarge the displayed graphic by clicking the “View this portrait in detail” link beneath it. But, as you can see, there’s also a “Getting a print of this image” link to the right. Go ahead and click that link.
On the resulting page, you can click the “size” pull-down menu to select one of three sizes (not including the “canvas” option).
Note: The size of each Handel print that I myself ordered (five years ago) from London’s National Gallery appears to be intermediate between the smallest and next smallest sizes currently available. But I paid extra to have them professionally double matted under glass and framed by a neighborhood shop, such that each resulting picture measures 21.5 by 17.5 inches. The two harmonizing, Handelian portraits flank this wooden computer desk (whose hutch houses 24 “Grove” classical music and opera volumes) and embellish the view of the recorded-music cabinetry whenever I enter this subterranean sanctum.
If you opt to purchase a fine print from the National Gallery, I strongly suggest that (after receiving it) you get it double matted under glass and framed. I have two little gooseneck lamps clipped to each end of the computer desk’s hutch serving to spotlight the Handel portraits from such an angle that no glare results on the “standard” glass. However, a few other, comparably framed prints elsewhere in the room compel me to remind you to use “non-glare” glass if your lighting more directly shines upon your print(s).
As of this writing, for stateside Americans ordering from English shops, the exchange rate for “pounds into dollars” is such that you’ll have to pay about twice as many dollars as pounds. And, naturally, the “shipping and packing” cost is higher for overseas orders. For example, currently it would cost me at least $24 to have one or two “medium” Handel prints shipped to my US location. Regarding payment options, the National Portrait Gallery Online Shop accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
Though placing my order was enjoyable and easy, and overseas delivery occurred in very reasonable time (not much longer than one week, if memory serves), I did initially experience a disconcerting problem with the first pair of Handel prints that I ordered from England. Unfortunately, the “standard” tubular mailer (that the prints were carefully rolled up in) got damaged at some point during transatlantic transit, and both prints were conspicuously marred. Fortunately, all I had to do was email the National Portrait Gallery Online Shop and explain the situation. I rather promptly received a polite reply explaining that they would immediately ship two replacement prints to me, and this time they would pack them inside a “heavy-duty” tubular mailer.
When that second package arrived, I saw that the tubular wall was so thick as to seem well nigh indestructible! I gratefully unpacked the two, perfect replacement prints, and the rest is history.
Both of my five-year-old prints look as pristine as the day I received them from London. I should add that their hues look somewhat brighter and more gratifying than what the rather subdued, online graphics suggest. I would unhesitatingly do business with the National Portrait Gallery Online Shop again.