Public Faces and Private Identities in Seventeenth-Century Holland: Portraiture and the Production of Community

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During the seventeenth century, Dutch portraits were actively commissioned by corporate groups and by individuals from a range of economic and social classes. Ann Jensen Adams examines four portrait genres - individuals, the family, history portraits, and civic guards. Adams argues that as individuals became unmoored from traditional sources of identity, such as familial lineage, birthplace, and social class, portraits helped them to find security in a self-aware subjectivity and the new social structures that made possible the 'economic miracle' that has come to be known as the Dutch Golden Age.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Adams’s book deserves appreciation for its innovative, insightful approach to a type of art whose value neither historians nor art historians have fully appreciated."
-Benjamin Kaplan, Journal of Modern History

"Her emphasis on multiple social identities that crossed regional, class, and religious boundaries evokes the important social role of the pictures she examines for a culturally diverse society and consequently the centrality of context for understanding how they were viewed."
-CATHERINE LEVESQUE,The College of William and Mary

“This long-awaited cultural study comes out to much anticipation, and it does not disappoint.”
–-Seventeenth-Century News

“In summary we can say that Public Faces and Private Identities is a well-written and inspiring text, systematically constructed toward the author’s closing arguments. The book is a welcome addition to the existing literature on the still underrated portrait genre.”
–-Historians of Netherlandish Art

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521444552
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Jensen Adams is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A scholar of Dutch painting, she is editor of Rembrandt's Bathsheba Reading David's Letter and has contributed to The Art Bulletin and the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek. She has received fellowships from The Mrs Giles Whiting Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, The Getty Research Institute, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Table of Contents

1. The cultural power of portraits: the market, interpersonal experience, and subjectivity; 2. Portraits of individuals: physiognomy, demeanor, and the representation of character; 3. Family portraits: the private arena and the social order; 4. The history portrait: comprehending self through historical narrative; 5. Civic guard portraits: personal friendships and the public sphere; 6. Portraits and the production of identity: transitional objects and potential spaces.

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