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The Likeness of the King: A Prehistory of Portraiture in Late Medieval France

Stephen Perkinson

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Anyone who has strolled through the halls of a museum knows that portraits occupy a central place in the history of art. But did portraits, as such, exist in the medieval era? 'The Likeness of the King' challenges the canonical account of the invention of modern portrait practices, offering a case against the tendency of recent scholarship to identify late medieval likenesses of historical personages as 'the first modern portraits'. Unwilling to accept the anachronistic nature of these claims, Stephen Perkinson both resists and complicates grand narratives of portraiture art that ignore historical context. Focusing on the Valois court of France, he argues that local practice prompted shifts in the late medieval understanding of how images could represent individuals and prompted artists and patrons to deploy likeness in a variety of ways. Through an examination of well-known images of the fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century kings of France, as well as largely overlooked objects such as wax votive figures and royal seals, Perkinson demonstrates that the changes evident in these images do not constitute a revolutionary break with the past, but instead were continuous with late medieval representational traditions.

Condition: New
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 2009-10-27
Format: Hardcover
Weight(KG): 0.665
ISBN: 9780226658797

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