“’Portraiture is the greatest sin:’ Contesting Concepts of Portraiture from Antiquity to the 18th Century” at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
As can be expected from a museum that grew around the private royal collection of the Habsburgs, one of the main strengths of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is portraiture, especially royal portraiture. This guided lecture-tour will consider two different and, in some ways, mutually exclusive concepts of portraiture from Antiquity (ancient Egypt and Rome) through works by Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein in the 16th century to Rubens and Velazquez in the 17th century. The push toward naturalistic likeness or toward idealization were not so much a matter of artistic ability, but the result of contemporary ideas relating to the nature of power, the place of the ruler in the divinely-ordered hierarchy of the world, etc. We are going to look at some of the great masterpieces of European art, which we will discuss against their concrete historical and art-historical background and the wider religious, political, and cultural notions at the time.
Note: Please, note that the Kunsthistorisches Museum is closed on Mondays.