login    password    artist  buyer  gallery  
Not a member? Register
Indepth Arts News:

"Portrait/Self Portrait: Prints and Drawings from the Museum's Collections"
2001-05-05 until 2001-10-04
Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

A unique survey exhibition of portraits and self-portraits by artists of the last five centuries will be on view at Carnegie Museum of Art. Portrait/Self Portrait: Prints and Drawings from the Museums Collections, presents important works on paper from Carnegie Museum of Arts extensive collections; some have not been shown previously.

Dating from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century, the show features works by Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Cézanne, Degas, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Klimt, and Picasso, as well as American artists such as Mary Cassatt, John James Audubon, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, David Gilmour Blythe, and others. A wide variety of media used to create portraits on paper are represented in the exhibition-including pencil sketches, lithographs, engravings, etchings, watercolor paintings, and charcoal drawings.

Linda Batis, Carnegie Museum of Arts associate curator of fine arts and exhibition organizer, says that Portrait/Self-Portrait provides valuable perspectives on the meaning of portraiture and fame. According to Batis, Sometimes, a persons ideas are so important that we forget that a real person formulated them. This exhibition is a chance to look at those famous people, but it is also a look at fame and how it fades. It seems that our modern obsession with celebrity is really not so modern after all.

Traditionally, portraits and self-portraits captured details of the personal and emotional life of the subject and often showed people in settings that revealed the sitters vocation and status. These works are valued not simply for the skill of the artist, but also as priceless records of the appearance and character of persons whose importance has lasted into the present era.

The exhibition has many such examples. Albrecht Dürer, for example, captured in his engraving Erasmus (1526), the famous philosopher and writer surrounded by books and hard at work at his desk. Dürers Phillip Melancthon (1526), an engraving of the Protestant theologian and theorist of Lutheranism, shows the subject not indoors among books, but against the sky, an allusion perhaps to his calling and his stature.

However, in some cases, artists preserved likenesses of persons whose renown was fleeting. An example of such a portrait in the exhibition is Pierre Imbert Drevets engraving, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Bishop of Maux (1723). Based on a famous painting by Hyacinth Rigaud, who also created the initial drawing for Drevets engraving, this print is one of the most famous French portrait engravings of the eighteenth century. The bishop, adorned in silk, ermine, and lace, stands surrounded by elegant furnishings and books. Every surface is richly detailed, proof of both the engravers skill and the stature of the subject. Today, however, the eminent bishop and orator is little known to most of us.

Other works in the exhibition declare the subjects status using fewer exterior details. One such work is Rembrandt van Rijns, Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill, an etching done in 1639. This etching draws inspiration from paintings by Titian and Raphael in a private collection in Amsterdam during Rembrandts lifetime. Imitating the style and trappings used in those paintings, Rembrandt dressed himself in flowing robes and cap. His relaxed pose, with an arm draped over the sill of a low stone wall, and his intent expression are the focus of the work. In this self-portrait details are minimal, but the message is clear-Rembrandt exudes the confidence of a painter aware of his stature among his peers and the people of Amsterdam.

A work that records the appearance of an identifiable person yet is not a portrait in the traditional sense is Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Paintings Gallery (1879-80) by Edgar Degas. This soft ground etching, employing aquatint and dry-point techniques, though clearly identifying Cassatt in the title, shows her with her back to the viewer, capturing no details of her face. Similarly, Odalisque in Striped Pantaloons (1925) by Henri Matisse, was intended to be s study of a female nude in an Oriental setting rather than a portrait. Yet we know the woman in the work was Matisses sensual model Henriette Darricarrere, and this lithograph preserves a record of her appearance.

Often portraits witness an artists changing personal life. For example, Pablo Picasso used his wives and mistresses as models, and each inspired him in different ways. The likeness of each of these new influences appeared in Picassos work, challenging the artist to capture each womans unique emotional makeup. Francoise Gilot, the mother of two of Picassos children, served as a model for many of his major works at mid-century, including a series of lithographs and an aquatint, Torse de Femme--LEgyptienne, completed in 1953, which appears in the exhibition.

Related Links:


Discover over 150,000 works of contemporary art. Search by medium, subject matter, price and theme... research over 200,000 works by over 22,000 masters in the indepth art history section. Browse through new Art Blogs. Use our advanced artwork search interface.

Call for Artists, Premiere Portfolio sign-up for your Free Portfolio or create an Artist Portfolio today and sell your art at the marketplace for contemporary Art! Start a Gallery Site to exclusively showcase your gallery. Keep track of contemporary art with your free MYabsolutearts account.


Copyright 1995-2013. World Wide Arts Resources Corporation. All rights reserved