For most of us, portraits are a commonplace. We have grown accustomed to seeing yearbook photos, family portraits on holiday cards, and all those ‘selfies.’ But in the early seventeenth century, when Anthony van Dyck began his ambitious series called the “Iconography,” only the most powerful members of society—nobles, aristocrats, diplomats, and other VIPs—had their portraits distributed on a wide scale. Van Dyck had a novel idea; his print series included a self-portrait, portraits of other artists, art dealers, and collectors in addition to monarchs and statesmen.
The idea of an artist depicting him or herself in print—in a reproducible, transportable, and comparatively inexpensive medium—had an enduring legacy in European and American art. Many artists, from Rembrandt van Rijn to Käthe Kollwitz, have explored a wide array issues through self-portraiture, issues such as artistic identity, emotional states, and the transience of life. Printed portraits of fellow artists, family members, and famous or infamous contemporaries have also had a lasting appeal.
Maureen Warren's lecture at the Krannert Art Museum Council Spring Luncheon (April 29, 2016) will explore the contribution of Anthony van Dyck and other artists to the genre of printed portraiture by providing an overview of the upcoming exhibition “Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and the Portrait Print,” which will run from March 5 to August 7 at the Art Institute of Chicago. I collaborated on the exhibition with Victoria Sancho Lobis, Prince Trust Associate Curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the AIC.
In addition, the talk will highlight many of the fine portrait prints held at Krannert Art Museum, including works from the 17th to the 20th century. Visitors will enjoy this small gallery feature in the Classroom Studio on the lower level of the museum April 25–May 15, 2016, featuring a selection of KAM's printed portraits, including Édouard Manet’s 1872 lithograph of the Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot.