let's be blunt about it -- a huge nose. It's the salient feature in "Thomas Paine: A Hero Scorned," a small exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery.
The fact is, Paine was always putting his voluminous nose where it shouldn't have been. He refused to stop being a revolutionary. It wasn't enough that his galvanizing pamphlet, "Common Sense," was a best seller. But he had to get into the French Revolution, then he criticized both Christianity and the English monarchy (making himself persona non grata in his native land), and then he started in on George Washington.
His portrait in oil here shows a very intelligent but hardly vituperative personality. It was painted by John Wesley Jarvis, who was at the time one of Paine's few remaining friends in America.
There was no way Paine could've escaped the pen of the British caricaturists. Here, among the several colored engravings, James Gillray depicts him as "Tommy Paine, the little American taylor, taking the measure of the crown, for a new pair of Revolution- Breeches."
His nose was so big that when the caricaturists portrayed it, they were being kind.
THOMAS PAINE: A HERO SCORNED -- At the National Portrait Gallery through August 11.