CHAPTER 4: The Past in the Present, the Present in the Past

Past and present coexist in paintings. Making the past relevant to the contemporary viewer has been a fundamental issue in history painting, and many artists depicted historical figures in contemporary attire to bring the stories to life. Conversely, they made reference to the antiquities when they wished to add authority and glamor to a contemporary scene.

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Image credit:
Abraham van Beyeren
A Roemer with Grapes, a Pewter Plate, and a Roll, 17th century (detail)
Oil on wood panel
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1984