Faces of Power and Piety
When we look at a portrait of a famous person, we expect to be able to see certain things. Foremost is a good likeness - a realistic view of their physical characteristics. Following that we would expect to be able to read something of the person's character from their portrait: spontaneity, humour, or possibly quiet reflection. All-in-all the portrait should reflect something of the subjec`s inner self.
In stark contrast to this are the portraits of the Middle Ages The medieval artists had very different criteria when painting their subjects, and their principal aim was to record the subject as they wanted to be remembered for posterity. For this reason the artist would rarely attempt to record the person's features accurately, and the picture communicated little about their personality. Smiling was regarded as frivolous, and these formal portraits served principally to emphasise their subject's power and piety.
This beautiful book examines portraits from the years 700 to 1600. Beginning with the break with classical Roman art that ushered in the style of medieval portraiture, it continues through to the development of naturalistic portraits in the Renaissance. There is a detailed examination of portraits of both historical figures and living people, and it concludes with a look at the moral dangers that portraiture was deemed to pose. Sumptuously illustrated in colour on every page, this is a fascinating and highly readable look at some of the most intriguing portraits of the past.