chapter  2
25 Pages

From the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century

ByKatherine Hoffman

It was during the Renaissance, as man—not God—became the center of thought and the role of the individual became increasingly important in the society at large that there was a great increase in painted and sculpted portraiture. A Renaissance painting related to family life, although stylistically perhaps better connected with late Gothic art, was the Flemish wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his bride, Jeanne Cenami, by Jan Van Eyck. Portraits dealt with both public image and events of private significance that then took on a public face, as in wedding portraits. Portraits could also be used for the purposes of "social climbing." The middle class was also depicted in the poignant portraits of Rembrandt van Rijn. In general, many portraits of the eighteenth century can be seen as part of a conserving tradition filled with social conventions to present and help maintain a state of affluence by those commissioning the pieces.