Both authors ... saw their book as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. The text, which was written by Hall based on information supplied by McKenney, takes the form of a series of biographies of leading figures amongst the Indian nations, followed by a general history of the North American Indians. The work is now famous for its color plate portraits of the chiefs, warriors and squaws of the various tribes, faithful copies of original oils by Charles Bird King painted from life in his studio in Washington (McKenney commissioned him to record the visiting Indian delegates) or worked up by King from the watercolors of the young frontier artist, James Otto Lewis. All but four of the original paintings were destroyed in the disastrous Smithsonian fire of 1865, so their appearance in this work preserves what is probably the best likeness of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the early 19th century. -- Reese.
“Hall provides a lively cultural interpretation of the genre from the Middle Ages to today. . . . Rather than provide a series of ‘greatest hits,’ he is more concerned with the reasons why artists create self-portraits.” —The Weekly Standard The self-portrait may be the visual genre most identified with our confessional era, but modern artists are far from the first to have explored its power and potential. In this broad cultural survey of the genre, art historian and critic James Hall brilliantly maps the history of self-portraiture, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian tradition of “bearing witness” to the prolific self-image-making of today’s contemporary artists.
Hall’s intelligent and vivid account shows how artists’ depictions of themselves have been part of a continuing tradition that reaches back centuries. Along the way he reveals the importance of the medieval mirror craze; the explosion of the genre during the Renaissance; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the biographical role of serial self-portraits by artists such as Courbet and van Gogh; themes of sex and genius in works by Munch, Bonnard, and Modersohn-Becker; and the latest developments of the genre in the era of globalization.
Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated, the book features the work of a wide range of artists including Alberti, Caravaggio, Dürer, Emin, Gauguin, Giotto, Goya, Kahlo, Koons, Magritte, Mantegna, Picasso, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Warhol.
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