The Modern Portrait in Nineteenth-Century France

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The Modern Portrait in Nineteenth-Century France examines the evolution of portraiture after the advent of photography. Heather McPherson focuses on the portrait as a contested site of representation and the diverse strategies that artists deployed to revitalize the portrait during the second half of the nineteenth century, when the genre was threatened with obsolescence by the ubiquitous photographic image. By considering portraiture within the broader cultural matrix of history, biography, artistic and literary crosscurrents, and shifts in the production and consumption of images, McPherson deftly situates the modern portrait at the epicenter of nineteenth-century visual culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Though the book is detailed and specifically illustrated throughout, McPherson does not lose sight of the changing functions of portraiture within the broader history of the genre." Burlington Magazine

"[McPherson's] focus on the history of portraiture has produced a body of essays, exhibitions, and this monograph, exceptional in quality and filling a major void in the scholarship on portraiture in general and modern portraiture in particular." Southeastern College Art Conference Award Citation

"The interdisciplinary nature of McPherson's undertaking strengthens her underlying thesis that art, literature, biography and portraiture were intertwined in nieteenth-century French culture. [...] Insightful and original." Nineteenth Century Studies

"The idea that the portrait photograph and the painted portrait are closely related in firming their identity is a brilliant layout for McPherson's research." Art History

"McPherson explores the interplay of painting and photography and the cultural and social complexities of the portrait." Farm and Dairy

"McPherson's book sets forth a provocative analysis of portiaiture in a succession of quite diverse essays that include discussions of photography, painting, posters, the rise of modern theather, the role of women, the impact of technology and the relationship between writers, critics and artists." Birmingham, AL Post-Herald Nov 2001

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521773614
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.96 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: likeness, transfiguration, and modern identity: portraiture and the problematics of representation; 1. Courbet and Baudelaire: portraiture against the grain of photography; 2. La Divine Comtesse: (re)presenting the anatomy of the Courtesan; 3. Sarah Bernhardt: portrait of the actress as spectacle; 4. C├ęzanne: self-portraiture and the problematics of representation; 5. Jacques-Emile Blanche: the Ecriture of a portraitist; 6. Proust and Vuillard: the artist as metaphysician; Epilogue: portraiture as a disappearing and reappearing act.

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