Art criticism requires universalism, and recovering the former requires recovery of the latter.
Art history nerd alert: Richardson's face is much better handled than his clothing, quite probably because the latter was done by studio help or a so-called "drapery painter" employed by Richardson, as was common practice at the time. It was routinely done by Kneller, the leading portraitist in England between the death of Lely (1680) and his own (1723), who ran a veritable portrait factory.
Thank God for Dissident Muse Journal.
Part of the problem is insecurity and the kind of open-mindedness via which one's brain eventually falls out. I practice a very firm, focused and ruthless approach: it's ultimately between me and the art, the work as such, period, and that interaction is personal--with me as the ultimate authority, meaning my criteria, my judgment, my taste and my understanding. I don't look at art for the sake of other people, so it's my business, not theirs. Don't like it? Not an issue. It's not about you.
Franklin, I left a comment saying I didn't agree with you, and have no idea where. But, it might be semantics, and it involves universalism. Do you mean, commonality within what we all share?
Jonathan Richardson (the elder), by the way, for those unfamiliar with him, was a leading English portrait painter in his day, and that is a self-portrait (though I prefer https://tinyurl.com/5h36j559 etched by him). He was certainly a serious man.
Franklin, I sympathize because of who you are and what you do, but I care less and less. I walked away from the bunk and rot well before 2020. I don't respect, want or need it, so it merits no special consideration or concern. Let it masturbate to whatever fantasies it cares to, till hair (or something) grows on its palms, but I'm not interested. I have come to find it demeaning to take it seriously.
Franklin, check out https://othernetwork.io/
and if you like it, make a connection to me
Still, regardless of the state of published art criticism, everyone serious about art should be his or her own art critic. I am, and my judgment is always definitive for me, as it should be. Others' views have their place and potential value, but actual dependence on them is a weakness, or at least a form of immaturity or underdevelopment. If one's own eye cannot do it, maybe one shouldn't be looking.
As for the significance of Swaby's "tight social circle," it presumably consists of black females, which guarantees nothing in terms of the artistic quality of her work (only her talent could) but does guarantee checking the requisite boxes--not art-wise, of course, but that's not what this is about.
Regarding jacked up museum admission fees, there are museums I will not pay any fee to enter, simply because the outfit disgusts me, and others where I will only pay to see a sure thing which I consider worth the money--and trust me, I'm not easy to entice, even when I can get in free.