Conterfeyter / CounterfeiterThe long forgotten, but in the 17th century commonly used, word ‘conterfeyter’ represents what in our time is called a portrait painter. Although the term ‘contefeytsel’ was generally used for a portrait, in Rembrandt’s time it could also be generally used for a depiction of any specific subject. Even if the subject would be the painter himself, in which case this self-portrait used to be called ‘conterfeytsel naer hemzelve’.

Interestingly, to our ears the word ‘conterfeyter’ sounds quite similar to our contemporary ‘counterfeiter’, which of course is a fraudulent deceiver. But the difference between the two definitions appears to be smaller than one would expect. Basically, any well painted ‘contefeytsel’ will be able to deceive the eye in at least seeing three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. By effectively both following as well as ‘forging’ our mutually known reality, a good ‘conterfeyter’ should be able to translate the visible and create, manipulate or forge a new reality, in an attempt to uncover what lies beneath the already known.

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