Past Gallery Exhibit – Silhouettes of a Century
An Exhibit of 19th Century Portraiture
Portraiture is an artistic representation or likeness of a person or object which portrays emotion, sentiment or context of a particular period. Historically, portraits symbolized the wealth and power of the elite, and although these concepts are less common today, their influence on modern art remains unabashed.
Prior to the 19th century, Western art reflected the stability of church and state where students were taught to draw forms to depict a hierarchy of genres with biblical, mythological, and historical subjects. Technique was strictly regulated to be narrative, instructive, and elevated in tone.
The tools of continuity were shattered by the debut of new styles in art between the years 1800 – 1899. In context, the 19th century bore a series of revolts against the aristocratic social and political norms and brought about radical changes worldwide. These events were accompanied by the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the French Revolution which spurred artists to enter an era of rapid evolution.
Romanticism was the transition from classical trends which legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority in art. This advancement permitted artists to explore unique styles and create portraits of the middle class with panache.