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portraiture, Roman  

Susan E. C. Walker

Roman portraiture is noted for its verism, and for the imitation of imperial images by private citizens of the Roman empire, notably in their funerary monuments. Portraits were regarded as substitutes for living emperors and expressed the relationship between the ruling power and local elites, notably in Mediterranean urban centres, where local benefactors were often commemorated with portrait statues. With the onset of increasing central control in late antiquity, portraits of emperors and imperial officials became vulnerable to indifference and popular discontent.

Roman portraiture is especially noted for its verism, the meticulous recording of facial characteristics including such unflattering features as wrinkles, warts, and moles, even on small-scale engraved gems (sealstone | British Museum). Though earlier portraits of Roman individuals have survived, notably the bronze bust of the so-called Brutus dated to about 300bce, verism is thought to have gained currency in the second century bce for commissions of honorific statues of distinguished Romans, especially patrons of cities in the Greek east.

Article

Martin Luther and Visual Culture  

Elke Anna Werner

In the mind of Martin Luther, images were first and foremost adiaphora and, as such, neither good nor bad. However, Luther spoke out firmly against the worship of images, as did other reformers. Based on his own anthropology, he countered the misuse of images by suggesting correct ways of using them, on the basis that man could only discover true faith through the mediation of images. For many years, researchers emphasized Luther’s negative attitude to images as a medium and highlighted the shift from a pre-Reformation culture of piety to the reformatory emphasis on the Scriptures. However, more recent examinations of liturgical practices and the link between art and politics, involving innovative methods, as well as some degree of imagination, have not only traced the development of a specific visual culture in Lutheranism but also highlighted their identity-creating function in denominational conflicts. What follows is an overview of the major image and media categories as portraits, allegories, altarpieces and epitaphs which influenced the visual culture of the Reformation. Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472–1553) and his youngest son Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515–1586) were at the very center of this activity, together with their productive Wittenberg workshop. From the very beginning of the Reformation right through to the 1580s, both liaised with Luther, Melanchthon, and other Wittenberg reformers, respectively accompanying and decisively shaping the development of Protestantism with their pictures. What is more and of equal importance, the influence of their work is reflected in the popularity of their style in Protestant territories throughout the Empire during the 16th century.

Article

portraiture, Greek  

Sheila Dillon

Portrait statues were a major component of Greek sculptural production, and many of these statues were made by the most famous sculptors of Greek antiquity. A public honorific portrait statue was in fact the highest honour an individual could receive and as such was much coveted. However, as most of these monuments were of bronze, very few have survived. Given the absence of the statues themselves, we are left to reconstruct the history and appearance of Greek portraiture primarily through other kinds of evidence: later literary sources, Roman-period copies primarily of portrait heads, inscribed statue bases, decrees recording the decision to award an honorific portrait. Based on this evidence, it is clear that portrait statues were a prominent feature of the statuary landscape of Greek cities and sanctuaries, particularly in the Hellenistic period, when their numbers increased and the range of people represented by them came to include women and children.

Article

sculpture, Roman  

Glenys Davies

Roman sculpture was produced in a variety of materials (bronze, marble, other stones, precious metals, terracotta), but it is *marble that is seen as typically Roman because so much that survives is in this medium. Sculpture was used for commemorative purposes (for display in public and in private contexts, especially the tomb), for state *propaganda, in religious settings, and for decorative purposes, and various different forms were developed: statues and busts, relief friezes and panels, and architectural embellishments.Early sculpture in Rome (e.g. the bronze she-wolf of c. 500 bce) was heavily influenced by *Etruscan work, and Etruscan sculptors would appear to have worked in Rome in the regal period and the early Republic. Rome's contacts with the Greek world, at first with the colonies of southern Italy and later through wars of conquest in Greece and Asia Minor, resulted in a knowledge of and growing taste for Greek sculpture: at first statues arrived as war *booty, but growing demand created a flourishing trade in new work.

Article

The Social Construction of the Photographic Portrait in 19th-Century Rio de la Plata  

Andrea Cuarterolo

With the arrival of the daguerreotype in Río de la Plata, in 1840, the photography industry was immediately monopolized by portrait photographers. By 1850 there were already more than ten daguerreotype photographers in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the two main cities on either side of the river. The majority were traveling foreigners, who frequently moved their studios between the two banks. Local society welcomed this new technology with enthusiasm and praised its representational perfection and its powerful verisimilitude. However, the high cost of the first daguerreotypes made portraiture an item of prestige and social differentiation, reserved only for those who were well-to-do. Far from the instantaneous photography of the early 21st century, daguerreotype portraits involved lengthy exposure times. This meant that they were highly staged, according to the attitudes, expectations, and motivations (conscious or unconscious), of the photographer, the subject, and the society in which these works were created. Through expertly arranged costumes, scenery, and poses, the bourgeoisie of Río de la Plata communicated and immortalized the prejudices, behaviors, and opinions specific to their class. With the emergence of paper photography and the growth of standardized formats, such as the carte de visite, c. 1855, photography transcended class boundaries for the first time. In this period the portrait acquired a commemorative function associated with the consolidation of new genres, such as post-mortem portraits, wedding portraits, and First Communion portraits, pictures meant to immortalize important family events. During this time large photography studios appeared, with new and luxurious facilities, in which the photographic compositions would become much more sophisticated and theatrical. For the local elite the decision to have their portraits taken was an act of expressing their identity; for certain social subjects, however, being photographed, invariably through the imposition of the operator, and with no agency in the representation of their own image, photography functioned as an instrument of privilege used to construct otherness. During this period the development of disciplines such as anthropology, criminology, and psychiatry, which sought to record and classify everything that did not conform with the normalized homogeneity of the time, made photography the ideal tool to identify those “others” for whom there was no space in respectable society or who fulfilled a negative role in it.

Article

Indigenous Portraits and Casta Paintings in the Spanish Americas  

Dana Leibsohn and Meha Priyadarshini

For historians of the Spanish Americas indigenous portraits and casta paintings offer two distinctive lenses for understanding the relationships between indigeneity and colonialism. Both genres of painting anchor indigenous bodies and subjectivities in the racialized practices that were constitutive of, and crucial to, colonialism in the Americas. Indigenous portraits record individual biographies and family histories, offering scholars of the present insights into the lives of people whose desires rarely surface in prose sources. Indigenous portraits also document the economic and material investments people were willing to make in preserving images of lives well lived. In the colonial past, as in the present, indigenous portraits therefore speak to the ways social ambitions fueled identity formation. Cuadros de castas, or casta paintings, are a genre of painting invented and painted in the Spanish Americas in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Casta paintings, like indigenous portraits, describe status and economic wealth; their main aim, however, was to portray the ethnic mixing and concomitant racialized thinking in colonial society. According to the iconography and composition of casta paintings, the mixing of people from Europe, Africa, and the Americas could be ordered and organized such that everyone seemed to have a place and appropriate ethnic designation. Today, casta paintings are understood as persuasive works of art that presented an idealized, hierarchical view of urban life. The painters and patrons of indigenous portraits and casta paintings participated in networks formed by habits of material exchange, patterns of urban mobility, and practices linked to Catholic religious beliefs. Some of these networks stretched across the Americas; others were bound to trade and travel across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The histories referenced in indigenous portraits and casta paintings should be understood, then, as tethered to local concerns, global economies, and cosmopolitan ambitions.