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Introduction. Portraiture, A Problematic Issue

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Chapter Summary

Portraiture is one of the most explored fields in art history: numerous books, papers and even exhibitions have been devoted to it. The author hopes that this book can help raise further questions, useful for more specialised studies. In this chapter the author tries to address some general questions such as the identification of portraits, the issue of likeness, the origin of portraiture, its functions and its relation to cults, etc. by mixing the analysis of some selected images with the studies of written sources. Though a bit puzzling at first, it is then necessary to admit, at the start of this study, that portraiture is indeed a relative notion. To sum up, an image, either flat or in the round, is to be considered as a portrait according to three criteria: The intention, The perception and The function.

Keywords: art history; Portraiture



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