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This fascinating new book explores the world of portraiture from a number of vantage points, and asks key questions about its nature. How has portraiture changed over the centuries? How have portraits represented their subjects, and how have they been interpreted? Issues of identity, modernity, and gender are considered within a cultural and historical context. Shearer West uncovers much intriguing detail about a genre that has often been seen as purely representational, featuring examples from African tribes to Renaissance princes, and from 'stars' such as David and Victoria Beckham to ordinary people. In the process, she shows us how to communicate with the past in an exciting new way.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780192842589
ISBN-10: 0192842587
Format: Paperback
(238mm x 168mm x 15mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 8-Apr-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » The portrait resists classification as art. Durer used a portrait of himself with a painful sore to send to his doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Portraits of Elizabeth I showed her to be an ageless symbol of power; likeness and accuracy were secondary to their use as publicity tools. The ill-fated Marie Antoinette, as painted by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, looks like an overstuffed sofa dwarfed by the grandeur of the room in which she stands. The author looks at this genre from various perspectives looking at how portraits of women have differed from those of men. How the self-portrait frees the artist to be experimental. How artists have approached the problems of representing their subjects, and reconciled innovation with obtaining a likeness. This excellent, beautifully illustrated introduction to the genre disappoints only occasionally, when several paintings are described extensively but have no accompanying illustrations. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Shearer West

Shearer West is Professor of Art History at the University of Birmingham. Her books include Chagall (Bison, 1990), The Image of the Actor: Verbal and Visual Representation in the Age of Garrick and Kemble (Pinter, 1991), The Visual Arts in Germany 1890-1940 (Manchester UP, 2000), and Fin de Sie'cle: Art and Society in an Age of Uncertainty (Overlook, 1993). She is also the editor of The Bloomsbury Guide to Art (Bloomsbury, 1996).

Books By Author Shearer West

Art, Ethnography and the Life of Objects by Shearer West

Art, Ethnography and the Life of Objects

Paperback, January 2012
First Actresses by Shearer West

The First Actresses

Hardback, January 2011