Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a man, perhaps a self-portrait, 1433
London, National Gallery
From the museum website
The Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid) and the National Gallery (London) will present a major exhibition of European Renaissance Portraits from the 15th and 16th centuries. This exhibition will trace the development of portrait painting during the period when this genre first flourished, encompassing the achievements of both Northern and Southern Europe. As such, it represents a geographical and chronological comprehensiveness that has never before been treated in an exhibition of this type. Featuring all the great names of the Renaissance, it will comprise approximately seventy paintings, together with medals, sculpture, drawings and engravings.
The exhibition will explore fundamental issues of likeness, memory and identity, as well as examining portraits commissioned in connection with courtship, friendship, and marriage, including self-portraits of artists themselves and the very individual modes of representation they adopted for this. The evolution of the full-length portrait will be one of the highlights of the exhibition, focusing on issues of power and the presentation of dynastic ambition. As a coda to the exhibition, we hope to enter a relatively unexplored area – that of counter-portraits and the anti-ideal. In contrast to the grandees who often employed them, this section would include portraits of court jesters and dwarves, as well as satirical representations in which painters could show off their skills as recorders of likeness, without the restrictions imposed by idealisation. the exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue edited by Dr. Lorne Campbell, George Beaumont, Senior Research Curator at the National Gallery, and Dr. Falomir. The catalogue will include the participation of a number of renowned specialists on the subject.