Assignment July 2

Westermann Reading and Response

One of Westermann’s claim in chapter 5 of Portraiture and the Identity of the Self and Community struck my interest. She claimed portraiture began to take off in the 17th Century because the definition of the self was in question. Furthermore, she believed that in the 1600s individuals identified themselves by the groups they considered themselves to be a part of, and also, possibly, the groups that they positioned themselves outside of. She interprets these groups to be distinguished or classified by gender, martial status, class, kinship, profession, and place of origin. This is very similar to to how most individuals classify themselves today. For example, almost always, where you are from and what you do for a living are the first questions you will be asked when you meet someone you do not know today. Ironically, as Westermann claims the question of who you are in the 1600s did not concern the individual or the self but who you associated with and groups you deemed yourself to either be apart of or not. Likewise, Portraits, during this time period, depicted individuals amongst the groups or symbols of the social or political parties they associated with. Sometimes these portraits would also depict a special occasions in the figure(s) life. Westermann asserts that these portraits were made for the public, and in my opinion were to help create an opinion of who someone was for the public that the individual depicted wanted.

Rijksstudio Tags

1. Title(s): Distant View with a Road and Mossy Branches

Object type : print

Object number: RP-P-OB-810

Catalogue reference: Hollstein Dutch 27-1(3)c

                      Haverkamp-Begemann 27-1(3)c

2. Title(s) The Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii

Object type print

Object number RP-P-H-OB-859

Catalogue reference  Hollstein Dutch 45

                       Haverkamp-Begemann 45

3. Title(s)  Triktrakspelers’t Verkeer Bort (title on object)

Object type print

Object number RP-P-OB-17.098

Catalogue reference Hollstein Dutch 181-2(2)

Inscriptions / marks collector’s mark: Lugt 240

4. Title(s) Self-portrait, Etching at a Window

                Self-portrait of Rembrandt, Etching at a Window

                 Zelfportret van Rembrandt, etsend bij een raam

Object type  print

Object number RP-P-1962-9

Catalogue reference New Hollstein Dutch 240-2(9)

                     Bartsch 22-2(5)

                     Hollstein Dutch 22-2(5)

Inscriptions / marks signature and date: ‘Rembrandt f. 1648’

5. Title(s) Man in Oriental Clothing

                Man in Oriental Dress

                Man in Oriental Dress

                Bust of a Man in Oriental Dress

Object type. painting

Object number. SK-A-3340

Inscriptions / marks signature and date: ‘Rembrandt f 1635’

6.Title(s) Still Life with Fruit

Object type  painting

Object number  SK-A-337

Inscriptions / marks signature and date: ‘Coenraet Roepel fecit Aº 1721’

7.Title(s)  Still Life with Peacocks

                Still Life with Dead Peacocks

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-3981

Inscriptions / marks signature: ‘Rembrandt’

8. Title(s) Still Life with Flowers

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-188

Inscriptions / marks signature and date: ‘Jan Van Huysum fecit. 1723’

9. Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-69

Inscriptions / marks signature (false): ‘Brvegel’

10.Title(s) Encounter during the Battle of Kijkduin

                Encounter during the Battle of Kijkduin

                “Sea Battle between Cornelis Tromp on the “”Gouden Leeuw”” and Sir Edward Spragg on the “”Royal Prince”” during the Battle at Kijkduin (Battle of Texel), 21 August 1673: episode from the Third Anglo-Dutch War”

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-2393

11. Title(s) Elegant Couples Courting

                  Elegant Couples on a Terrace

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-3038

Inscriptions / marks coat of arms

12. Title(s) The Denial of St Peter

Object type painting

Object number SK-A-3137

Inscriptions / marks signature and date: ‘Rembrandt 1660’

Two Rijksmuseum studio works I would especially like to see:

Both of these works of art interest me. Both of them also fall under the topic of portraiture that Westermann discussed in Chapter 5. The work of art, Man in Oriental Clothing, depicts a man of wealth, power, and importance. His clothing and the expression on his face reveals this. Similar to my take on Westermann’s claim that portraits of. The 1600s were made for public display to facilitate an opinion that the individual wanted the public to have of him or her. Whereas, the work of art, Elegant Couples Courting, depicts more of an event, a stage an individual’s life, or a special occasion that the individual want the public to know has occurred. The event depicted in this work of art that is depicted is that the individuals in this portrait have reached young adulthood and are now looking or have found their future husband or wife. This is also an event that the individuals depicted most likely want the public to know about.

1. Artist: Willem Pietersz Buytewech

      Title: Elegant Couples Courting

      Medium: oil on canvas

      Date: 1620

      Size: 56.3cm x 70.5cm

2.    Artist: Rembrant Van Rijn

       Title: Man in Oriental Clothing

        Medium: oil on canvas

        Date: 1635

        Size: 72cm x 54.5cm


5 thoughts on “Assignment July 2

  1. Elegant Couples Courting (italicized), Willem Pietersz Buytewech, oil on canvas, 1620, 56.3cm x 70.5cm

    Man in Oriental Clothing (italicized), Rembrant Van Rijn, oil on canvas, 1635, 1620, 72cm x 54.5cm


  2. You’re establishing an important point of departure here with Westermann’s claims about the relationship between social groupings, the individual, and the idea of what a portrait could do or was for. Could you perhaps tease out more of this claim on her part–does she argue that portraits did not represent individualism at all? (If so, then how are they portraits in any sense of the word?) Does she deal with the ways these group identities were manifested in the portraits–for example, how might “oriental dress” have helped figure that man as belonging to a certain class, religion, etc.? Conversely, does she deal with the emergence of the “self” here at all: Why would that particular man want to wear such “oriental” dress for his portrait? (if he even commissioned it)? And what do you think about any of these claims or their limitations? Do you find evidence in the paintings to extend her claim beyond its current limitations, to develop it? or perhaps to challenge some aspects of it or qualify it in some way? You’ve chosen some really interesting examples to play with here, as well: those Elegant Couples Courting seem actually to be showing off their clothing to each other: what that might say about their notion of the “self” and how it might be manifest in their appearance, presentation, accoutrements, etc.–the elements that would make up a portrait? Your question is giving me a lot to think about here! I’d love to know more about your take on it through these or other examples.


  3. HI Claire,

    What I found most striking about your post is the assertion that who you are associated with and what you do define who you are. You mentioned that portraits in the 1600s typically depicted individuals with symbols or tokens to represent the political or social groups they associated with. Do you think that the modern social media selfie has replaced portraits? In other words, do you think the selfie serves the same purpose as the portrait – to present to the world an image of oneself (whether real or imagined) that highlights a social status?


  4. Hi Claire! I think this is a really interesting point that you found on how portraits let people express their identities in a new way. You’re right that people everywhere in every era define themselves by where they feel they fit in within society, but something like a painted portrait (or, to Aidan’s point, a selfie) being more widespread must have changed the way people could let the world know who they were by showing off different visual symbols of their status.


  5. Claire,

    I also think it’s interesting how continued exploration of the self in this period led to the rise of portraiture art. It was in this period that liberal writers like John Locke began to propose what were then radical notions of individualism; he challenged conventional thinking by arguing all men had a right to life, liberty, and property. Americans do tend to identify ourselves as individuals but this not the case in much of the world, particularly in the East. I’m now curious if selfies (the modern portraiture obsession) are less common in nations like China, that place group rights ahead of individual rights. If Westermann’s contention is correct, there should be evidence of less portrait artwork throughout history in such cultures.


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