Style, Truth, and the Portrait

By Rémy G. Saisselin | Go to book overview

The Portraits

The portraits which follow have been arranged in a roughly chronological order by centuries, and especially as regards the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries according to the conventions governing their style and manner. In the seventeenth century the arrangement is less important than later. Dutch portraits are unmistakable, French portraits can readily be told from Van Dycks or Lelys; Rubens, Rembrandt, Hals are ever prominent. In the eighteenth century it seemed well to distinguish between English and French portraiture, even though this simple differentiation could not be followed too strictly since we had portraits from the eighteenth century which belong to neither of these schools. Art being art, rather than an emanation of some classifying mind, there will always be painters, or poets, difficult to place: because they had the misfortune of not working like everyone else and possessing genius, or else that of being born into one century and living on into the next, and reflecting different styles, to the dismay of those who love neatness and precise definitions. We have thus been forced to place Salvator Rosa, Solimena, and Ceruti all by themselves between the strict and unmanageable designations of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries.

Other cases of a similar nature were resolved in a happier though not necessarily a more logical manner. Angelika Kauffman certainly does not belong to the English school. If she is to be classified one might to better advantage speak of an eighteenth-century Roman school. However, Winckelmann's air de tête has something in common with the later Nollekens bust of Sir George Savile. Style therefore decided their proximity. Then there was David for the French half of the century. The portrait of Desmaisons is unmistakably dix-huitième, but the actor Wolf is not, so that we separated the two David portraits and placed the latter in the early nineteenth century. Here other difficulties awaited us. We had originally planned on a classification by centuries and within these an alphabetical order. In the seventeenth century, this worked. In the nine-

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Style, Truth, and the Portrait
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  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • The Portraits 28
  • Index to the Portraits 212
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