Constructing and Using the Portrait Sitting as an Art-Historical Research Object


  • Dawn Kanter The Open University



portraiture, portrait sitting, twentieth century, National Portrait Gallery, modelling, ontology engineering, database


Portraiture is said to have evolved from a collaborative social practice to an artist-centric one. I challenge this view by focusing on the portrait sitting. I develop a portrait-sitting ontology, and a portrait-sitting database. I do so with reference to works in London's National Portrait Gallery, because the gallery features noteworthy sitters, leading to rich interpersonal exchanges during sittings. An approach from my portrait-sitting database shows the contributions of sitters to portrait production, calls attention to shared social and cultural ideas behind particular types of portrait production, and supports new interpretations of portraits and new periodisations of portraiture.


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How to Cite

“Constructing and Using the Portrait Sitting As an Art-Historical Research Object”. 2023. Aesthetic Investigations 6 (2): 110-27.