Fictions of the Pose
Harry Berger Jr.
Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2000. Small quarto. Gray-blue cloth boards with minor rubbing to the bottom edge of the text block, pictorial dust wrapper. First edition, inscribed by the author to Susan Harding. Near fine.
The foundational question this book explores is: What happens when portraits are interpreted as imitations or likenesses not only of individuals but also of their acts of posing—when the observer's attention is redirected so that the primary object the portrait imitates becomes the likeness not of a person but of an act, the act of sitting for one's portrait? This shift of attention involves another: from the painter's to the sitter's part in the act of (self-)portrayal.
At the ground level, Fictions of the Pose develops a hypothesis about the structure and meaning of portraiture. That foundation supports a first story devoted to the practices and politics of early modern Italian and Dutch portraiture and a second story devoted to Rembrandt's self-portraits, especially those in which he poses in fancy dress as if he were a patron.