Today we have hundreds of photographs in files on our computers, or shiny pieces of pasteboard shut away in a cupboard. We select and filter them when we choose the ones to put in our albums, digital or physical.
Since Victorian times people have collected photographs of themselves and others. Now we have photo filters and Photoshop to alter the pictures, to make ourselves beautiful, or to look like a cat.
Back then, they had portraits. During the early sixteenth century the Long Gallery became popular.
A long room made for exercise or physical pursuits when the weather didn't allow it. At least, that's what they said. But it also displayed family portraits.
The portraits were as manipulated as our Photoshopped photos, and seen through the eyes of a painter. After Classical painting, portraits were considered high in the heirarchy of painting, higher than landscapes. They were also a painter's bread and butter.
The great painters would often only do the vital parts of a work, usually the head and hands, but if the sitter was important, like Charles I to Van Dyck, then the painter would do everything. He would train students and some of his studio would have specialities they would use - the ability to paint trees or drapery. Van Dyck himself was a wonderful painter of fabric. In the eighteenth century Gainsborough and Reynolds led the pack, and during the Regency the glamorous paintings of Lawrence became all the rage.
Most sitters wanted a likeness, but they wanted a flattering likeness. Some, like Oliver Cromwell, demanded they be shown "warts and all," but most wanted to be seen at their best. There were no happy snaps back then! Charles II had his mistresses painted by Sir Peter Lely, most of them half naked, or with silk and satin robes falling artfully from their shoulders.
The best artists showed people, so you feel that you could talk to them and hear their reply. You can sense their characters.
Even though they are all staring down at you from the walls of the Long Gallery.
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I suppose the historical equivalent to Photoshop giving a portrait a cat face, is having an artist paint the sitter as a god or goddess. I have seen portraits of Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II, as the goddess Minerva, and Nell Gwyn, dressed only in a pair of wings and holding an arrow, as Venus.
On the ceiling of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Sir James Thornhill has painted King William III as Mars, the God of War (conquering the French - naturally), and Queen Mary II is dressed as Pallas Athene, goddess of wisdom.
Re-branding oneself has a long history!
The terms "romance novel" and "historical romance" are ambiguous,
because the word "romance", and the associated word "romantic",
have a number of different meanings. In particular,
on the one hand there is the mass-market genre of "fiction dealing with love",
harlequin romance, and on the other hand, "a romance" can also be defined as
"a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvelous
and uncommon incidents"Novel editing
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