Imaginary Portraits

Symbolists projected contemporary themes into distant historical contexts, provocatively challenging traditional opinions on various real persons and epochs, often cloaked in mystification. In this process, they drew analogies between the present and past ages, finding in the fate of powerful personalities artifacts open to myriad interpretations. Following the lineage established by Pater’s “Imaginary Portraits in Bohemia,” Arthur Breisky continued this approach. In his essays and evocations, he provided distinctive portrayals of Emperor Tiberius, the painter Watteau, and Oscar Wilde. Wilde, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, correlated these transformations with the idea of doppelgangers: while the face of the title character remains young, his portrait undergoes changes. This ironic punchline suggests that only a life lived as a work of art does not age—unlike its interpretations.

Subject: Others
Author: Pater, Walter
Title: Imaginary Portraits
Date: 1907
Publisher: Kamila Neumannová
Technique: book
Dimensions: 22 x 14.5 cm
Origin: Adolf Hoffmeister’s library
Licence: Free license

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