Historiska porträtt som kunskapskälla : Samlingar, arkiv och konsthistorieskrivning
Sammanfattning: This thesis is a study on the reception history of early modern portraiture, as expressed in Swedish as well as Nordic and German art historiography written 1880-1945. It focuses on the anthropological and anachronic aspects of the encounter between art historian and portrait, which is analysed according to theory on the agency of images.Early modern portraiture is considered as both a mental and material category of images, i.e. both an art historical genre and a cultural heritage of pictures. One of the main aim of the thesis is thus to add to our knowledge of the history of national portrait collections, as well as the founding of national portrait archives in Europe from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. It is also argued that the history of national portrait collections was parallel to the development of national art museums and adherent collections of art during this period.A part of the thesis consists of closer analyses of the use of semantic terms in a corpus of art historical texts on portraiture. The analyses shows how the meaning of the term iconography has changed before and after the 1930’s, when art historian Erwin Panofsky’s method of interpreting iconography gained strong influence on the discipline. Before this, the term iconography was strongly associated with portraiture, and used as a concept of portrait likeness. One of the main results of this thesis is thus that positivist studies on portrait iconography carried out from ca 1900 until the 1930s constitutes a branch of the disciplinary history of art history. Trained judgement – connoisseurship – was practiced when art historian were judging the identity, likeness and authenticity of historical portraits, relying on a mental set of physiognomic thought and intuitive impressions of realism and vividness in the image.In addition, institutional and empirical infrastructure is in this thesis considered an important part of the research on portrait iconography. The Swedish Portrait Archive, Svenskt porträttarkiv, was initiated in 1916 by art historian Sixten Strömbom, with the aim to map, list, describe and photograph all existing portraits depicting swedes, executed before the rise of portrait photography. The responsibility of the archive was handed over to the National Museum of Fine Art, Nationalmuseum, in 1932. The Commission on Iconography, a subcommittee of the International Committee of Historical Sciences, was initiated in 1928 and active until the mid-1930s with the aim to promote that images - and not just texts - could serve as historical evidence in the study of the past. Both Svenskt porträttarkiv and the Commission on Iconography are treated in length in separate chapters. As argued in this thesis, they were part of an art historical interest, peaking in the 1930s, of regarding historical portraits as visual records containing intrinsic information about sitters long dead. Thus, this study is a contribution to the history of image interpretation.
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