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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Memorializing the Past: Jan de Bray and the Construction of Identity in Seventeenth-Century Haarlem
by Veith, Jessica, Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 575; 3486831
Abstract (Summary)

In the second half of the seventeenth century, Jan de Bray (c.1627–1697) emerged as one of the foremost living painters in Haarlem. His professional success translated into several important civic commissions and a lengthy tenure on the board of the local artists' guild; further evidenced by the acquisition of one of his paintings for the British royal collection and his contribution of a drawing to the unrivaled album amicorum of Jacob Heyblocq in Amsterdam. He was the product, not only of a talented artistic family, but also of a city heralded for its rich lineage of innovative painters, championed in the writings of Karel van Mander and by town chroniclers like Samuel Ampzing. Haarlem was a self-conscious promoter of its artistic heritage and tradition, unprecedented in its decision to publicly display some of its most famous works of art in the town hall complex, and supported by a strong artists' guild in which both Salomon de Bray and his son, Jan, played a leading role. Manifest in the art of Jan de Bray and the social context of Haarlem was a concomitant drive toward self-reflection, in which ambition and identity were bound up with a powerful sense of tradition and preservationism. This dissertation examines the art of Jan de Bray through the lens of memorializing practices in seventeenth-century Haarlem. Taking inspiration from Durkheim, Benjamin, Halbwachs and Pierre Nora, it addresses how the construction of memory and the formation of identity functioned both collectively and individually in Haarlem. Local literary, artistic and civic practices – from books of town praise to drawing archives and collecting patterns – are compared to similar preoccupations in the oeuvre of Jan de Bray, notably his frequent depiction of his family after their loss to the plague. Providing a detailed look at several of his most striking works, this study bridges the public and private dimensions of his art from De Bray's official contributions to civic institutions to his nuanced depictions of self and family.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Westermann, Mariet
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Dutch art, Golden age, Haarlem, Jan de bray, Portraiture, Seventeenth century
Publication Number: 3486831
ISBN: 978-1-267-04989-6
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