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Portraiture in Western Art

Portraiture in Western Art


Portraiture in Western Art


A portrait is typically defned as a representation of a specifc individual, but it does not merely record someone’s features; it says something about who he or she is, ofering a vivid sense of a real person’s presence. Portraiture raises fundamental questions about status, identity, gender and the body. It is the most widespread and reviled of genres. It is also the point through which art most frequently infltrates other areas of human experience.

With the focus on the early modern period, yet including some excursions to both earlier and later periods, this module will approach portraiture from a wide range of perspectives. Lectures will examine the techniques which artists have adopted and the problems they have encountered in representing their human subjects. The historical development of portraiture and its diferent subgenres will be traced, infuential portrait artists will be discussed and their work will be critically analysed. Diferent portrait types, such as the ruler, the group, the equestrian and the family will be studied and there will be a consideration of how allegory and narrative transform these portrait types into much larger statements about position within society.

Over eight weeks this course will explore the function of portraits, as well as ideas about power, status and celebrity. We will explore famous works, such as Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfni Portrait, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Velasquez’s Las Meninas, Rembrandt’s self-portraits, Holbein’s The Ambassadors, and Raeburn’s Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch.


Semester 2: Wednesdays,  10:00pm - 12:00 noon, commencing 24th January 2018


Fees are payable at standard or concession rates



Open Association - Short Courses 

Semester 2

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