Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Modern Day Tronies

Buried on Page Five is a 24x18 oil done from life. I think of it as a modern day tronie.

First you’re probably wondering just what a “tronie” might be. A “tronie” is a genre painting done in a portrait format. It’s a term used to describe some 17th century paintings. Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is a tronie. Vermeer’s painting was not intended to be primarily a likeness of a particular person but rather a depiction of a type. We don’t know who the girl with the pearl was and neither did Vermeer’s contemporaries.
Many of Rembrandt’s self portraits are really tronies; Rembrandt dressed up, sometimes sumptuously, sometimes in exotic garb and painted himself, not as a portrait but as a “type.”  Famous master artist was one of his poses (that he wished to be the truth rather than a pose); swashbuckler military man was another.
Rembrandt, Vermeer and their artist contemporaries had the opportunity to paint secular subjects for sophisticated collectors. These collectors wanted beautiful paintings and the human face and form was considered one of the most desirable of subjects…thus the tronie.
Today, no collectors ask for tronies.  Artists still paint them but we call them “head studies” or “figurative works” or we don’t categorize them at all.
To see some beautiful tronies that are simply called paintings visit Carolyn Anderson’s website.


  1. Bonjour chère amie,

    Un somptueux portrait... J'aime son allure absorbée dans la lecture de son journal... Une très belle peinture. Je suis admirative également par le merveilleux travail de la lumière.

    Il est juste que les Maîtres nous offraient des portraits et autoportraits incroyables... Ils remplaçaient nos photos d'aujourd'hui...

    Gros bisous à vous.

  2. Very interesting, Shirley. I was unfamiliar with the term. This is a wonderful painting! Look at the delicateness of the paper edges and the beautiful light on his face and tie!

  3. Good morning Shirley! Very informative! I love this painting! So much wonder! I have to mention the power and beauty of the edge of the newspaper! Nicely done! Another gem my friend! I love your work! Happy Thanksgiving! Michael


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...