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James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White

Here are five paintings that perfectly express the boredom of isolation

Eddy Frankel

Art is full of bored-looking people. Take a walk through any museum or gallery around the world (when they re-open, obviously) and you’ll see hundreds of faces expressing nothing more than ennui. That’s because sitting for portraits is a tedious business, what with spending all those hours sat still doing absolutely nothing. Sound familiar? Sitting for a portrait is a lot like living in self-isolation. So find solace in these beautiful paintings of total boredom from London’s museums, just so you know that you’re not alone. That’s the whole point of art: solace.

Walter Sickert, ‘Ennui’

Walter Sickert, Ennui


When you’re on day four of your boyfriend mansplaining what an incubation period is. 

Meraud Guevara, ‘Seated Woman with Small Dog’

Meraud Guevara, Seated Woman with a Small Dog

Tate © Estate of Meraud Guevara

Three months into self-isolation you might want to strangle your pets too.

Gwen John, ‘Chloë Boughton-Leigh’

Gwen John Chloë Boughton-Leigh


Looks like the only thing more boring than self-isolating is sitting for a portrait for Gwen John.

Thomas Gainsborough, ‘Mr and Mrs Hallett (The Morning Walk)’

Mr and Mrs William Hallett ('The Morning Walk')  Thomas Gainsborough, 1785

© The National Gallery, London

Day 43 of going for exactly the same walk with exactly the same person. Send help. Please.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, ‘Symphony in White, No 2: The Little White Girl’

James Abbott McNeil Whistler, ‘Symphony in White, No.2: The Little White Girl’


This is probably the most terrifyingly relatable boredom painting in all of history. Shudder.

Self-isolation might be boring, but here are 11 brilliant London art magazines to help see you through the tedium.

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