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Portraits: A History
     

Portraits: A History

by Andreas Beyer
 
This sumptuous, oversized art treasury—with nearly 300 full-page reproductions of major works from museums all over the world—presents the history of Western portraiture, from its earliest beginnings in ancient art to its flowering in the Renaissance and Baroque eras to its transformation in modern times. The masters of the portrait—including Van Eyck,

Overview

This sumptuous, oversized art treasury—with nearly 300 full-page reproductions of major works from museums all over the world—presents the history of Western portraiture, from its earliest beginnings in ancient art to its flowering in the Renaissance and Baroque eras to its transformation in modern times. The masters of the portrait—including Van Eyck, Leonardo, Raphael, Hals, Holbein, and Rembrandt—are all well represented, as are more recent practitioners of the genre such as Picasso, Chuck Close, and Gerhard Richter. Numerous stunning, close-up details provide an intimate view of the subjects depicted and invaluable information about the artists' techniques.Art historian Andreas Beyer's well-researched and far-ranging text offers a fascinating overview of portraiture; it is augmented by extended captions that shed light on each of the individual works, a complete bibliography, and biographies of the artists. Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy, François Boucher's Madame de Pompadour, John Singer Sargent's Madame X, Pablo Picasso's Gertrude Stein, and scores of other masterworks by famous and less-well-known artists make this deluxe volume a joy to behold—a splendid celebration of a key aspect of our artistic heritage.

Author Bio: Andreas Beyer, one of the leading German art historians of his generation, is chair of the art history department at the Rheinisch Westfälische Technische Hochschule in Aachen, Germany. He has had fellowships at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA; the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From lavish portraits of kings and queens filled with symbols of wealth and prosperity, to erotically charged portraits of mistresses and lost loves, to searching and poignant artist self-portraits, German art historian Beyer traces a "panoramic history" of the art of portraiture, accompanied by fine reproductions and numerous close-up details. Since, as the author says, "there is in fact no real theory of the portrait," he attempts to remedy that lapse: innovations in portraiture are linked to innovations in painting generally, and Beyer stresses the fact that the effort to represent a human being in art very much addresses the centuries-old question of the role of art in life. Did the portrait artist capture the "essence" of the person portrayed, or did they also paint in idealized human features in order to link the portrait to classical, or divine subjects? Does the essence of a person involve precise reproduction of facial features, like a photocopy, or, as in Imi Knoebel's abstract "portrait" of four women, can that essence be represented by colored rectangles? At times, these questions sparked such agitation that, as in the case of Goya's portrait of the duchess of Alba, a suspected subject of a portrait could be exhumed years after his or her death to be compared to the painting. Beyer includes most of the famous portraits, including the Mona Lisa, among the 290, somewhat dark color reproductions here (including many 11" 13" full-bleeds); some lesser-known portraits could have happily been substituted for multiple close-ups of the masterpieces. When Beyer discusses the importance of Rembrandt's lifelong series of self-portraits, for instance, he only includes one early and one late self-portrait. And while the text is chronological, it does not provide clear overviews of regional trends, themes, or schools. Nevertheless, Beyer's thoughtful and original scholarship does much to establish portraiture as a worthy and compelling subject. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810945395
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2003
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
11.25(w) x 13.12(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

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