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Manhood, Marriage, and MischiefRembrandt's 'Night Watch' and Other Dutch Group Portraits$
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Harry Berger

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225569

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823225569.001.0001

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Group Portraiture: Coming Together and Coming Apart

Group Portraiture: Coming Together and Coming Apart

(p.47) 4 Group Portraiture: Coming Together and Coming Apart
Manhood, Marriage, and Mischief

Harry Berger Jr.

Fordham University Press

The safest definition of a group portrait is that it is a picture in which sitters pretending to pose together actually posed separately. All portraits pretend to be copies of those who sat for them, but the group portrait as a genre foregrounds the element of pretense. The occasion of group portraiture as an institutional practice is intended to promote and commemorate the kind of solidarity that defends against the threat of disaggregation. But the form of group portraiture as a representational practice is infiltrated by that threat, and reactivates it. The author concluded this chapter with a methodological caveat. The drama and the psychology of posing may not loom very large in the economy of human life. Posographical interpretations of sitters are at once more limited and more expressly hypothetical in their claims than those we associate with general psychology.

Keywords:   group portraiture, portrait, occasion, commemorate, posing, sitters, pretense

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