On the question of portraits in some Dutch 17th-Century genre paintings

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AbstractA few 17th century Dutch genre paintings include detached figures, often a young couple, standing at the side. Until recently these figures were regarded by scholars as portraits incorporated into a genre painting. This study demonstrates that in some cases these detached figures are reused stock figures and that in other cases they are seen from the back, and therefore cannot be taken to be portraits. It further indicates that this is a formula repeated by artists time and time again, which has its roots in the 16th century. These paintings are therefore independent genre presentations and part of an established visual tradition. These detached figures function simultaneously as mediators, as storytellers and as a point of reference. They stress differences in etiquette and therefore in social class, and serve to lure customers from the socially-aware middle classes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalDutch Crossing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


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