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During the first half of the 1700’s, fabulous portraits of European aristocracy and royalty developed into a well developed style. So much so, that it was actually called “The Grand Manner.” This style was also know as “swagger style.” and we can see why.
On both sides of the Atlantic, every attempt was made in these works to portray the elegance, wealth and social standing of the person portrayed in these fabulous portraits. The setting was frequently taken to extremes, and the portrayals, while based on what the person looked like, was all about the exterior components of wealth and power. Very little was conveyed about the interior life of the person.
Take for example Portrait of Jane Fleming, Countess of Harrington (1755-1824), by English painter Sir Joshua Reynold, painted in 1778. Her surroundings suggest the power of a grand estate. She has land, and a balcony that sports an urn in the Grecian style. She is dressed in ample folds of loosely draped fabric; suggesting a toga. These reference to Classical antiquities was quite popular during this time frame. They symbolically represent the Age of Reason and Enlightenment. While a fancy dress and jewelry are not presented in this portrait, the elaborate hair with plumage is certainly a symbol of wealth, power and a private hairdresser.
Similarly, this portrait of King Louis XIV’s mistress Portrait of Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), painted by the French artist Francois Boucher in 1756 is even more determined to show the viewer the opulence of her setting. One can only image the number of man hours (or should I say woman hours) it took to create the ribbon flowers and ruching on her dress. Even in the background, the delicate intricacies of an ornately carved book case are reflected in an equally magnificent mirror.
Americans had their swagger portraits too.
This 1775 American portrait: Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Izard (Alice Delancey), painted by American painter, John Singleton Copley, compares in many ways to the European portraits of the same period. The table is ornately carved, the brocade is sumptuous and the echoes of ancient times can be seen in the background statue- that is not so far in the background that we would fail to notice it. However, there are clues that indicate that these people are not quite equal to the Europeans, particularly when it comes to female frills and fluff. By comparison, Mrs. Izard’s hair style is much more subdued, as is her manner of dress and jewelry.
A case could be made that Americans were trending towards a different type of “swagger portrait.”
Regard this famous portrait: Paul Revere, done in 1768, and also painted by American painter John Singleton Copley. The “swagger” isn’t in the finery and opulence. By comparison this work is quite austere. The fancy background and clothes are completely absent in this portrayal. In fact, we see Mr. Revere at work, where he regards the audience as if he were just captured in a moment of deep reflection as he considers his creation. What we see displayed in this portrait is a focus on the personal traits as the most treasured possession of the portrait sitter. It reflects the eventual shift that would come as Americans turned their back on the idea that power was a privilege that could only be inherited.
Here’s how I insert pictures into my blog. Most students will be utilizing images from the web for their academic blogs. These directions are targeted to that specific situation.
1. Once you have your image from a website on your computer screen – right click with your mouse.
2. Select – Save image as….
3. Save your image on your computer in a file where you know you can locate it again. If the default name of the image is not something you will easily recognize – then change it to something you will recognize and remember.
4. On the word press dashboard you will see Upload/Insert and next to that you will see a rectangle. Click on that.
5. You will then get an instruction box that says “select file.” Once you click on select file, you will be guided to select the image you saved on your computer. You will be given artistic choices as to where you want to place your image and what size your image will be.
Hopefully this was helpful. Don’t forget to hit the publish or update button on Word Press once you are done.
Created after 1000 A. D.
I’ve always been a sucker for icons. I am a magpie at heart, so things that are gold and shiny always have appealed to me. If it is shiny, it catches my eye and my desire. Icons, like this one from the Byzantium era frequently feature gold painted and gold leaf backgrounds. The use of the gold in the background; along with halos, was a symbolic gesture from this era that designated a heavenly aspect.
Icons were directly related to the practices of the Christian Church in the Byzantium era and empire. Not only were they beautiful art, but they held a specific purpose. They were like a wireless internet connection to the heavens. Prayers for aid could be directly communicated through the icons for intercession on your behalf by the heavenly saint depicted. This practice has not been discarded. Not too long ago I participated in a beautiful prayer service at an Orthodox Christian church and observed prayers and kisses given directly to icons.
This icon shares many characteristics held in common with other icons. Notice how flat this painting is? See how the clothed portions of the body have very little three dimensional shading? Most of the body of St. George is primarily formed by shape and line. Even the folds in the fabric are very static, and are depicted primarily with line, rather than gradual shifts in color. Although this icon is much more sophisticated than a stick figure, like most icons from this era, it relies heavily on a symbolic language to communicate realism to the viewer. The knuckles on the hand are depicted with circles, the texture of the hair is described primarily by shape and line. We understand these symbolic images as knuckles and hair, but they are far from a realistic depiction. This serves to makes the message more important than the depiction.
Unfortunately, this work, like most of the work from the Byzantium era (330-1453) was created by anonymous artists. The function of the work was far more important than giving credit to the artistic creator. What we do know about this icon, is that it is from Athens, Greece (it currently lives at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens) and it represents St. George. Depictions of St. George didn’t evolve until the 11th century during the Crusades, so that gives an indication of when this work was created.
I have included images of some other icons for your comparison and enjoyment.
Brooks, Sarah. “Icons and Iconoclasm in Byzantium”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/icon/hd_icon.htm
De Ruyter, P. W. “What are Byzantine Icons? – The Visual and Spiritual Treasures of the Eastern Orthodox Church”. In Icons Explained. 2007 http://www.iconsexplained.com/iec/byz_about_byzantine_icons.htm
This blog is intended to serve as a reference guide for students in Art/Music/Theatre 200x offered through the Center for Distance Education (CDE) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). This first post is a sample of what students need to accomplish in their first written assignment – Course Orientation. Make sure you include an image just like I did.
I am in this photo by Barry McWayne. I am under the arch at the top in a turquoise shirt.