When I heard that the National Portrait Gallery was organizing an exhibition drawn from private collections in the Washington area, I figured it would be a good one to miss. These sorts of community-based shows tend to be mediocre affairs. Institutions mount them in part to reach out to new patrons, and curators — against their better judgment — can be obliged to lower standards to comply with the exigencies of politics and fundraising.
But when I saw “Capital Portraits: Treasures from Washington Private Collections,” I realized that I had been dead wrong. It’s hardly an ingenious or groundbreaking curatorial conceit, but it’s a wonderful show on many levels.
Sign up here for free Jason Kaufman IN VIEW culture bulletins.