The anomalies that the author has described in this section offer a good reason to cling to the helium-filled balloon of allegory that carries viewers safely above the ground plane of unruly detail. At least two hypotheses may be advanced against the tendency toward allegorical evasion. One is weaker because it is purely a general and aesthetic speculation, the other stronger because it engages a possible historical motive. The pretense of ineffectual guardsmanship must be marked as merely a pretense, a theatrical performance. The sitters thus give themselves to be seen making a divided commitment to the demands of portraiture and to those of narrative action.
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