Fictions of the Pose: Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 2000 - Art - 624 pages
0 Reviews
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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction i
5
The System of Early Modern Painting
35
The Apparatus of Commissioned Portraiture
77
Sprezzatura and the Anxiety
95
Facing the Gaze
105
Desire
197
On Dutch Portraiture
231
Representational
265
Waiting for Maerten Soolmans
383
Texture Versus Facture
389
Specular Fictions in Two Etchings
395
Saskia in Rembrandts LookingGlass
405
On Revisionary Allusion
427
Rembrandt as Courtier
463
The Medici SelfPortrait
475
Effacing the Hand
497

Toward Group Portraiture
319
An Anatomy of Group
329
On SelfPortraits
351
Orthopsychic Comedy in the Early
359
Revisionary Allusion in Specular Fictions
377
The Last Laugh or Something More
505
Notes
515
Index of Plates and Figures
612
Names Index
619

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Harry Berger, Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author, most recently, of Making Trifles of Terrors: Redistributing Complicities in Shakespeare (Stanford, 1997).

Bibliographic information