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Winter, Irene J.. What/When Is a Portrait? Royal Images of the Ancient Near East
2009, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 153: 254-270.
Added by: Hans Maes

Summary: Argues that ancient sculptural images of Mesopotamia, while non-naturalistic, should be regarded as portraits. The title is a reference to Nelson Goodman’s shifting of the question ‘What is art?’ to ‘When is art?’ in his book Ways of World-Making.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Standing sculptures of Gudea, ruler of Lagash (ca. 2110 BCE)

On the basis of detailed lexicographical and iconographical research, Winter concludes that these sculptures, with their recognizably broad face and chin, large ears, and muscular arms, were intended as portraits.

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