American Faces by Richard Saunders explains how our understanding of portraiture shapes our national identity.

Richard Saunders, director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art and professorof history of art and architecture, is the author of a new book, American Faces: A Cultural History of Portraiture and Identity, published by University Press of New England.

In his handsomely illustrated new work, Saunders explores our collective understanding of portraiture, its history in America, how it shapes our individual and national identity, and why we make portraits—whether for propaganda and public influence or for personal and private appreciation. American Faces is a rich and fascinating view of ourselves.

David Lubin, author of Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War, called it a “fun, fast-paced tour of American portraiture from the colonial era to the present [that] manages to be both scholarly and quick-witted.

“Saunders zigzags through our national history in a series of thematically organized chapters to show how Americans have portrayed themselves in art, photography, and other media,” adds Lubin. “Facebook may be a recent phenomenon, but American Faces demonstrates that the compulsive need to present a likeable image of the self to friends and strangers goes back to the founding of the country.”

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