The Elements of Life: Biography and Portrait-Painting in Stuart and Georgian England

Synopsis

In this bold new study, Wendorf compares two arts--biography and portrait-painting--that have often been linked in a casual way but whose historical connections have remained unexplored. Reassessing the great age of English portraiture--from the arrival of Van Dyck to the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson--Wendorf reveals that, despite their obvious differences, visual and verbal portraits often shared similar assumptions about the representation of historical character. Rooted in modern theory devoted to the comparison of literature and painting and to the problem of representation, the book examines each form of portraiture in terms of the other, bringing into discussion such writers as Izaak Walton, John Evelyn, John Aubrey, Roger North, Goldsmith, Johnson, Mrs. Piozzi, Boswell, and such artists as Van Dyck, Lely, Samuel Cooper, Jonathan Richardson, Hogarth, and Reynolds.