Grootenboer Reflection

Beeldhouwer Louis Royer in zijn atelier

“Any portrait can be considered a fragment of the biography”(Grootenboer 323). In his book, How to become a picture: Theatricality as Strategy in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Portrait, Grootenboer introduce the framework of the theatricality which is used in a painting, especially in portrait, to create depth of model’s characteristic by implementing various clues within the painting, thus building a story and allow the audience to appreciate the art in their way.

My first thought to Portrait of Louis Royer by Charles van Beveren was “who is Louis Royer?”. His red cap, uncomfortable posture, ambiguous face expression, and focus less eyesight captured my interest and brought up more questions “does he even want to be in the painting?”. Moving the focus to his hand, Louis is holding a small hammer. There are multiple sculptures behind him, and sculpting tools and working clothes next to him. These are clues; telling us that he is a sculptor. From the sketch or engraving on the wall behind him, the location of the painting is possibly his studio. White marble powders scattered on his desk may symbolize that is currently working on something. Maybe holding a hammer not only tells Louis’ occupation but also a situation where he might be working on sculptor as he is getting painted, perhaps the one who is painting him. In this process of thought, Louis doesn’t have focus less eyesight anymore, he is focusing on his model. 

By identifying theoretical clues artists implement and connecting the dots myself, I was able to create my own story to the painting which Grootenboer would call “augmented painting”. “He does not address a general audience but seems to turn to a particular ‘you’…..the ’you’ to whom the performance is addressed is essential for the subject to recognize him or her as self.”(Grrotenboer 322). Deriving from Grootenboer’s writing, it is the audience’s quota to address the artist’s implementations, therefore, it is ‘you’ who completes the art.


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