Refiguring the Real: Picture and Modernity in Word and Image, 1400-1700

Overview

In a major analysis of pictorial forms from the late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, Christopher Braider argues that the painted image provides a metaphor and model for all other modes of expression in Western culture--particularly literature, philosophy, religion, and science. Because critics have conventionally explained visual images in terms of verbal texts (Scripture, heroic poetry, and myth), they have undervalued the impact of the pictorial naturalism practiced by painters from the fifteenth century ...

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Overview

In a major analysis of pictorial forms from the late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, Christopher Braider argues that the painted image provides a metaphor and model for all other modes of expression in Western culture--particularly literature, philosophy, religion, and science. Because critics have conventionally explained visual images in terms of verbal texts (Scripture, heroic poetry, and myth), they have undervalued the impact of the pictorial naturalism practiced by painters from the fifteenth century onward and the fundamentally new conception of reality it conveys. By reinterpreting modern Western experience in light of northern "descriptive art," the author enriches our understanding of how both painted and written cultural texts shape our perceptions of the world at large. Throughout Braider draws on works by such painters as van der Weyden, Bruegel the Elder, Steen, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Poussin, and addresses such topics as the Incarnation of the Word in Christ, the elegiac foundations of Enlightenment aesthetics, and the rivalry between northern and southern art. His goal is not only to reexamine important aesthetic issues but also to offer a new perspective on the general intellectual and cultural history of the modern West.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691069579
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/1992
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Ut pictura poesis: Image and Text in Postmedieval Writing and Art 3
1 Una piu grassa Minerva: The Origins of Perspective and the Aesthetics of the Incarnation in Alberti's Della pittura 20
2 La verite en peinture: Space, Place, and Truth in Rogier van der Weyden's St. Ivo 37
3 Landscape with the Fall of Icarus: The Death of Allegory and the Discovery of the World in the Elder Pieter Bruegel 71
4 A Double-Silvered Glass: Christian Imitation and the "Curious Perspective" in Cervantes's Don Quijote 100
5 Idols of the Mind: Baroque Illusion, Theatrical Persuasion, and the Aesthetics of Iconoclasm in Jan Steen 129
6 The Denuded Muse: The Unmasking of Point of View in the Cartesian Cogito and Vermeer's The Art of Printing 174
7 The Art of Mis/Reading Art: Text, Image, and Modernity in Rembrandt's Philosopher 199
8 Et in Arcadia Ego: The End of Ut Pictura and the Invention of the Aesthetic in Nicolas Poussin 221
Conclusion: The Poetry of Absorption and the Ontology of the Modern in Lessing, Greuze, and Kant 249
Notes 267
Index 297
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