The Group Portraiture of Holland shows how artists such as Rembrandt and Frans Hals radically altered the relationship of the beholder to the work of art. Alois Riegl’s masterly study has become a point of departure for a variety of twentieth-century readings of art, demonstrating again that, as Walter Benjamin wrote of Riegl’s Late Roman Art Industry, “every great scholarly discovery … portends a revolution in method.”
In this volume, Alois Riegl argues that group portrait painters in Holland radically transformed the beholder’s relationship to the work of art. Italian art based on internal coherenceĖthat is, a clear hierarchy of the figures depicted in the painting—ran counter to the Kunstwollen (artistic volition) of the artists of democratic Holland. Seeking to maintain equality among the sitters, these artists introduced external coherence into their group portraits—that is, the figures portrayed actively engage the viewer outside the frame. Riegl’s exploration of this new role for the beholder, and of the increasingly nuanced interplay of internal and external coherence in works by painters such as Rembrandt and Frans Hals, broke new ground in the theory of communication, in the aesthetics of reception, and in historical psychology.
The Texts & Documents series offers to the student of art, architecture, and aesthetics neglected, forgotten, or unavailable writings in English translation.
Edited according to modern standards of scholarship, and framed by critical introductions and commentaries, these volumes gradually mine the past centuries for studies that retain their significance in our understanding of art and of the issues surrounding its production, reception, and interpretation.
Eminent scholars assist in the selection and publication of volumes in the Texts & Documents series. Each volume acquaints readers with the broader cultural conditions at the genesis of these texts and equips them with the needed apparatus for their study. Over time the series will greatly expand our horizon and deepen our understanding of critical thinking of art.
Table of Contents
- The Group Portraiture of Holland
- The Early Stages
- The First Period of Group Portraiture in Holland, 1529–1566
- The Second Period of Group Portraiture in Holland, 1580–1624
- The Third Period of Group Portraiture in Holland, 1624–1662
- Illustration Credits
- Bibliography of Works by Alois Riegl