The National Museum of Art of Romania

Facing Memory. Sixteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Portraiture.

Curator: Cosmin Ungureanu
National Gallery (groundfloor)
14 December 2018 – 31 March 2019
Visiting hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 -18.00
Tickets: 10 lei
Free: every first Wednesday of the month

Famous artists who often lent their name to a school of painting, such as Agnolo Bronzino, Rembrandt van Rijn, Antonis van Dyck, Aegidius Sadeler, Diego Velasquez, Francesco Zurbaran, Pierre Mignard, Jean-Baptiste Greuze or Rosalba Carriera, are among the authors of the exhibition Facing Memory. Sixteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Portraiture. More than one hundred-twenty paintings, prints, drawings and pastels from the collections of the museum and the Prints and Drawings Room of the Romanian Academy Library represent many of the geographical areas in which portraiture played an important role; they also feature the variety of portrait types and the vast array of human characters one comes across from the early days of the Renaissance until the 18th century.

A genre highly practiced during the Classical period and (willingly) forgotten during the Middle Ages, portraiture was reinvented in the 15th century for the use of a privileged elite interested in “staging” their persona: portraits lend material substance and contribute to the creation of a collective memory. To this end sitters and artists work closely together to decide on the pose, codify body language and the setting. Rulers, noblemen, dignitaries and military men introduce us to the world of power and its representation; the power of example shows off in the portraits of illustrious humanists, writers and men of science (or natural philosophers as they called themselves). Artists enter the ranks of the latter, their portraits introducing (self)-reflection as a very powerful message. Figures of the higher clergy and “portraits” of saint often borrowing the features of anonymous models highlight the relationship with the divine.

Well-known or unknown authors focus increasingly on human expression and its rendition becomes increasingly important and refined as models and sitters are drawn from (nearly) all walks of life.

Austere, at times even “set in stone”, portraits begin to “open” up, become more human; eyes gaze furtively to one side, hands reach out of the frame in an open invitation to explore and engage. Studies, grotesque heads and sketches, precursors to many a fine portrait regardless of the sitter’s social or professional status add a final expressive touch to an extensive journey through European portraiture and the confrontation with time and memory.

 

Curator: Cosmin Ungureanu
National Gallery (groundfloor)
14 December 2018 – 31 March 2019
Visiting hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 -18.00
Tickets: 10 lei
Free: every first Wednesday of the month