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“Framing and Fashioning of Images”: The Pictorial Invention of the Art Lover in Daniel Mytens’s Portrait of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (ca 1618)

Miriam Volmert

Published online:

01 Apr 2017



The article examines Daniel Mytens’s portrait of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, and the pendant portrait of his wife, Aletheia Howard (ca 1618), in relation to early modern rhetorical concepts in portrait painting and art theory. Particular focus is placed on the pictorial meaning of the depicted sculpture gallery in Lord Arundel’s portrait in its relation to the sitter. The author argues that the composition subtly transforms certain patterns of a long-standing pictorial code in portrait painting, which can be identified as a type of “picture within a picture.” Already established in the Italian portrait tradition, an integrated little picture or window view next to the sitter was a widespread formula in seventeenth-century Dutch and British portraiture, in order to praise a sitter’s moral and political virtues. Mytens reinterprets this portrait type, in this way inventing a pictorial mode of highlighting the particular virtues of the art lover: his portrait, through its adaptation of the picture-within-a-picture formula, praises the earl’s noble act of collecting antiquities while at the same time strongly emphasizing his intellectual strength.

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