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Sittings, Seductions, and the English Portrait

The Baker Museum Exhibition Lecture

Signature Event Space

© Eileen Travell
Mar 22, 2:00pm
Signature Event Space 2:00pm
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The Baker Museum Exhibition Lecture
Sittings, Seductions, and the English Portrait

Adam Eaker, Ph.D., Associate Curator, European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since the Renaissance, English writers have imagined the portrait sitting as a potentially transgressive event, rife with opportunities for flirtation and seduction across class lines. In conjunction with the exhibition Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London, this lecture will explore a body of literary responses to the portrait sitting by figures ranging from Ben Jonson in the 17th century to Robert Browning in the 19th. These texts, including some of the greatest poems in the English language, help us to understand why portraits have held such a central position in English culture — and why they continue to exert such fascination up to the present day. 

This presentation is part of the exhibition Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Adam Eaker

Adam Eaker is an associate curator in the department of European paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he is responsible for British and Northern European painting before 1800. He studied art history at Yale University and Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2016. Before joining the staff of the Met, he served as an Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow and subsequently guest curator at the Frick Collection, where he co-curated the exhibition Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture. He has also curated the exhibitions In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at the Met and The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England. He is the author of Van Dyck and the Making of English Portraiture, published in 2022 by The Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies in British Art and Yale University Press.

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