Fictions of the Pose: Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance

Fictions of the Pose: Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance

by Harry Berger Jr.
     
 

ISBN-10: 0804733244

ISBN-13: 9780804733243

Pub. Date: 03/28/2000

Publisher: Stanford University Press


The foundational question this book explores is: What happens when portraits are interpreted as imitations or likenesses not only of individuals but also of their acts of posing—when the observer's attention is redirected so that the primary object the portrait imitates becomes the likeness not of a person but of an act, the act of sitting for one's…  See more details below

Overview


The foundational question this book explores is: What happens when portraits are interpreted as imitations or likenesses not only of individuals but also of their acts of posing—when the observer's attention is redirected so that the primary object the portrait imitates becomes the likeness not of a person but of an act, the act of sitting for one's portrait? This shift of attention involves another: from the painter's to the sitter's part in the act of (self-)portrayal.

At the ground level, Fictions of the Pose develops a hypothesis about the structure and meaning of portraiture. That foundation supports a first story devoted to the practices and politics of early modern Italian and Dutch portraiture and a second story devoted to Rembrandt's self-portraits, especially those in which he poses in fancy dress as if he were a patron. The author approaches the Rembrandt/Renaissance relation not as an art historian but as an interpreter trained in literary studies, taunted by the challenge of extending the practice of "close reading" from verbal to visual media and fascinated by the way this practice can show how individual works "talk back" to their contexts. The context for Rembrandt, the object and target of his "looking-glass theater," is the structure of patron/painter relations that developed during the Renaissance and influenced the very different conditions of patronage that emerged in the Dutch Republic around the turn of the seventeenth century.

The book is in four parts. Parts One and Two comprise an interpretive study of the technical and sociopolitical conditions within which portraiture becomes an important if problematic medium of self-representation in early modern Europe. The major portion of these two sections considers the structure and the consequences of a system of practices and conventions that governs poses in commissioned portraits. In Part Three the scene shifts from Italian to Dutch portraiture. Part Four is devoted to self-portraits by Rembrandt that are interpreted as responses to the conditions depicted in the first three parts. Through a series of close readings of individual works, the author demonstrates the ironic, polemical, and political force of Rembrandt's self-portraits.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804733243
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
7.38(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Introduction1
Pt. 1Early Modern Technologies and Politics of Representation and Their Consequences
1Technologies: The System of Early Modern Painting35
2Politics: The Apparatus of Commissioned Portraiture77
3Consequences: Sprezzatura and the Anxiety of Self-Representation95
Pt. 2Facing the Gaze
4The Face as Index of the Mind: Art Historians and the Physiognomic Fallacy107
5Physiognomy, Mimetic Idealism, and Social Change119
6Elias on Physiognomic Skepticism: Homo Clausus and the Anxiety of Representation137
7Lacan on the Narcissism of Orthopsychic Desire155
8Fictions of the Pose (1): The Fiction of Objectivity171
9Fictions of the Pose (2): Representing Orthopsychic Desire197
Pt. 3The Embarrassment of Poses: On Dutch Portraiture
10Local Matters233
11The Posography of Embarrassment: Representational Strategies in a Decentralized Class Society265
12Methodological Interlude I: Toward Group Portraiture319
13Rembrandt's Embarrassment: An Anatomy of Group Portraiture329
Pt. 4Rembrandt's Looking-Glass Theater
14Methodological Interlude II: On Self-Portraits351
15Good Boys and Bad: Orthopsychic Comedy in the Early Self-Portraits359
16Marking Time: Revisionary Allusion in Specular Fictions377
17Rembrandt as Burgher: Waiting for Maerten Soolmans383
18Methodological Interlude III: Texture Versus Facture389
19Specular Fictions in Two Etchings395
20Married, with Peacock: Saskia in Rembrandt's Looking-Glass Theater405
21Methodological Interlude IV: On Revisionary Allusion - Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance427
22Rembrandt as Courtier463
23Rembrandt in Chains: The Medici Self-Portrait475
24Rembrandt in Venice: The Patriarch479
25(Ef)facing the Hand497
26The Last Laugh; or, Something More505
Notes515
Index of Plates and Figures611
Subject Index615
Names Index619

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