Portraits can serve to honour the dead, or can be a method of self-promotion. While only a select few could see an original painting, the medium of the print allowed for a wider dissemination – prints could appear in publications and could be sold separately. They were often collected and exchanged by members of professional groups.

The essence of a portrait is the focus on the individual. It displays an exceptional person, commanding admiration and respect - it preserves a memory of a person who is deemed historically significant. Visual tropes are often utilized to assert a sitter’s status and to make reference to their accomplishments and intellectual endeavours.

Yet a portrait serves not only as a record of an individual, but as a tool in the self-fashioning of a group. Commissioned portraits, as well as books written by the sitters, are part of an “official” image – these records of achievement are created, printed, and circulated with a measure of control and endorsement by the sitter/author.

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