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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Power of the portrait: Production, consumption and display of portraits of Amalia van Solms in the Dutch Republic
by Beranek, Saskia, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2013, 363; 3573130
Abstract (Summary)

Portraits of Amalia van Solms, wife of Frederik Hendrik of Orange-Nassau and one of the most significant women in the Dutch Republic, were widely circulated and displayed during her lifetime (1602-1675). This study focuses on cases where specific audiences and sites of display can be isolated. When portraits can be viewed in their original context, they speak not only to those elements intrinsic to the image such as symbolism or fashion, but also to issues extrinsic to the image: social practices, cultural ideals, and individual identities. The meaning of a portrait depends as much on with whom it was intended to communicate as on whom it portrayed.

Building on recent scholarship which established Amalia as a significant art patron, this dissertation focuses on her use of portraiture and how she chose to present herself to a variety of audiences. Portraits circulated ideas about the House of Orange in general and Amalia in particular during the Dutch war for independence. In public, they promoted a specific notion of elite identity to publics as varied as a bankrupt employee of an Amsterdam almshouse and the King of England. In more restricted environments, they structured the more private experience of the visitor to Orange palaces and speak to the type of relationship between viewer and viewed. At Honselaarsdjik, public spaces like galleries held formal portraits, but in restricted and elite spaces, the image of the resident changed in relation to audience. At Huis ten Bosch, the idea of the portrait is expanded beyond the edges of a canvas. Though the study of the Oranjezaal has generally focused on the deceased Frederik Hendrik, by considering the site as an integrated whole Huis ten Bosch is reframed as a portrait of Amalia: a living, large scale embodiment of lineage, triumph, and memory. This dissertation proposes a broader approach to portraiture that extends beyond physiognomic likeness and views architecture and audience as fundamental elements in the representation of identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harris, Ann Sutherland, Armstrong, Christopher Drew
Commitee: Dickey, Stephanie, Ellenbogen, Josh, Wladron, Jen
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: History of Art and Architecture
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Dutch Republic, House of Orange, Portraiture, van Solms, Amalia
Publication Number: 3573130
ISBN: 978-1-303-42841-8
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