Michael Anesko

Henry James Framed: Material Representations of the Master

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ISBN: 9781496231628
Author : Michael Anesko
Published: 2022
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Number of pages: 288
Language: English
Format: Hardback
Format: 229×152
Henry James Framed is a cultural history of Henry James as a work of art. Throughout his life, James demonstrated an abiding interest in—some would say an obsession with—the visual arts. In his most influential testaments about the art of fiction, James frequently invoked a deeply felt analogy between imaginative writing and painting. At a time when having a photographic carte de visite was an expected social commonplace, James detested the necessity of replenishing his supply or of distributing his autographed image to well-wishing friends and imploring readers. Yet for a man who set the highest premium on personal privacy, James seems to have had few reservations about serving as a model for artists in other media and sat for his portrait a remarkable number of twenty-four times.

Surprisingly few James scholars have brought into primary focus those occasions when the author was not writing about art but instead became art himself, through the creative expression of another’s talent. To better understand the twenty-four occasions he sat for others to represent him, Michael Anesko reconstructs the specific contexts for these works’ coming into being, assesses James’s relationships with his artists and patrons, documents his judgments concerning the objects produced, and, insofar as possible, traces the later provenance of each of them.

James’s long-established intimacy with the studio world deepened his understanding of the complex relationship between the artist and his sitter. James insisted above all that a portrait was a revelation of two realities: the man whom it was the artist’s conscious effort to reveal and the artist, or interpreter, expressed in the very quality and temper of that effort. The product offered a double vision—the strongest dose of life that art could give, and the strongest dose of art that life could give.

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