The Friendship Portrait, and a Requiem for Friendship

Raphael; Self Portrait with a Friend (1518-1519) - Oil on canvas, 99 x 83 cm, Louvre, Paris

While at the Louvre this past May I was very happy to come upon one of Raphael’s friendship portraits that I discovered years prior.  Seems that in the 16th century, it was a common practice for friends to get their portraits painted together.  While reading a book recently on the artist Peter Paul Rubens I discovered the painting below, and found the tradition continued on through the 17th century.  Both of these portraits include the artists, but there were commissioned portraits as well.

Kind of curious to think about our state of affairs in our day and age when you think of what people may infer if two male friends went into a photo portrait studio and wanted to get a picture taken.  The lady in Sears would think, “Oh one of those…” In our current state of affairs friendship is suspect.

I read an article in a history journal that talked about friendship portraits and  I was actually introduced to this Raphael painting not in an art publication but the journal “Touchstone” about six years ago.  Anthony Esolen wrote a very thought provoking article called “A Requiem for Friendship” on the subject – give it a read if you have a chance:

Hope your friendships are rich indeed.  As the Beatles remarked,  “I get by with a little help from my friends….”

Peter Paul Rubens; Mantuan Friendship Portrait, 1602. Wallraf-Richartz Museum Cologne

About abiggerworldyet

Visual Artist Brother Sojourner College Professor Christ follower
This entry was posted in Interesting...., Men's Work and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Friendship Portrait, and a Requiem for Friendship

  1. abiggerworldyet says:

    My buddy Mike commented via an e-mail that he was wondering which ones were the artists in the paintings.

    Ironically they are both (Raphael and Rubens respectively) the men that are facing you in their paintings. I guess as artists we like to engage the viewer- we’re very conscious that you’re there…

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