Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Preface

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Preface

Article excerpt

Of the two basic functions of portraiture, to limn an individual likeness or identify a type within the social fabric, this study is concerned with type.1 Records of the individual likenesses of architects, head or head-and-shoulder images, including sculpted busts, occur in Western art into the present, and nineteenth-century America is no exception. Although they probably form a majority of portraits, such works are not the primary subject of this inquiry. From, say, Rembrandt Peale's of Baltimore's Maximilian Godefroy (1765-1840?) of about 1815, now on extended loan to the Maryland Historical Society, to John Singer Sargent's 1917 charcoal drawing of Boston's Guy Lowell (1870-1927) at that city's Museum of Fine Arts, an individual's physiognomy, and perhaps psychology, are the foci of such works, as they are with like portraits of anyone else. This, rather, is a selective overview of the iconography of a particular type, not of individual likeness or artistic quality, so Charles Willson Peale's head of Benjamin Henry Latrobe of 1804, for example, as fine a painting as it is, has no place here (although, as we shall see, other portraits of the architect do), whereas Elsa Koenig's early twentiethcentury portrait of Philadelphia's Thomas Richards, a much lesser artistic achievement, does. …

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