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During the seventeenth century, Dutch portraits were actively commissioned by corporate groups and by individuals from a range of economic and social classes. They became among the most important genres of painting. Not merely mimetic representations of their subjects, many of these works create a new dialogic relationship with the viewer. Ann Jensen Adams examines four portrait genres - individuals, the family, history portraits, and civic guards. She analyzes these works in relation to inherited visual traditions, contemporary art theory, changing cultural beliefs about the body, about sight, and the image itself, as well as to current events. Adams argues that as individuals became unmoored from traditional sources of identity, such as familial lineage, birthplace, and social class, portraits helped them to find security in a self-aware subjectivity and the new social structures that made possible the 'economic miracle' that has come to be known as the Dutch Golden Age.
Ann Jensen Adams is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A scholar of Dutch painting, she is editor of Rembrandt's Bathsheba Reading David's Letter and has contributed to The Art Bulletin and the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek. She has received fellowships from The Mrs Giles Whiting Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust, The Getty Research Institute, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.