According to the predominant standards, a portrait should be a faithful representation of its model. However, this is not always the case. This gallery of 1,000 portraits illustrates how the genre has been transformed throughout history, and has proven itself to be much more complex than a simple imitation of reality. Beyond exhibiting the artist’s skill, the portrait must surpass the task of imitation, as just and precise as it may be, to translate both the intention of the artist as well as that of its patron, without betraying either’s wishes. Therefore, these silent witnesses, carefully selected in these pages, reveal more than faces of historic figures or anonymous subjects: they reveal a psychology more than an identity, illustrate an allegory, serve as political and religious propaganda, and embody the customs of their epochs. With its impressive number of masterpieces, biographies, and commentaries on works, this book presents and analyses different portraits, giving a reflection of the evolution of society, and above all the upheavals of a genre that has dramatically shaped the history of art.
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