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Ut pictura meditatio
The Meditative Image in Northern Art, 1500-1700

W. S. Melion, R. Dekoninck, A. Guiderdoni-Bruslé (eds.)
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XXXVII+482 p., 155 b/w ill. + 10 colour ill., 156 x 234 mm, 2012
ISBN: 978-2-503-53583-8
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 135,00 excl. tax
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The thirteen essays in this volume, first presented at Emory University’s Lovis Corinth Colloquium II, ‘The Meditative Image in Northern Art, 1500-1700', explore the varied forms, functions, and meanings of meditative imagery and image-making in England, France, and the Low Countries.

Ut pictura meditatio: The Meditative Image in Northern Art, 1500 -1700 examines the form, function, and meaning of pictorial images produced and/or circulated in the Low Countries, Germany, and northern France as templates for the meditative life and its spiritual exercises. Our epigraph – ut pictura meditatio (as is a picture, so is meditation) – connotes the ways in which pictures facilitated meditative prayer and, conversely, the extent to which such prayer was experienced visually. Our essayists are prominent scholars in the fields of art history, history, literary studies, philosophy, and religious studies, all of whom study the ways in which visual images served to structure the interior religious life of laity and clergy in the early modern period. The volume asks how and why images were used not only to initiate, sustain, and structure kinds and degrees of meditative and contemplative devotion, but also to figure the soul’s cognitive operations, its negotiation between states of being, between interior and exterior sense, between corporeal and spiritual sight. Implicit in this questioning are further explorations of the nature and scope of the interplay among mental, visual, and verbal images, and the subject positions such images allowed the votary to represent and inhabit. These questions touch upon issues of identity, subjectivity, and figuration that should be of interest to historians of art, literature, religion, and society.

Table of Contents




Meditative Images and the Portrayal of Image-Based Meditation — WALTER S. MELION

Et oculi mei conspecturi sunt: Interdiegetic Gaze and the Meditative Image — BRENNAN BREED

‘Diplopia’: Seeing Hieronymus Bosch’s St Jerome in the Wilderness Double — REINDERT FALKENBURG

From Mystical Garden to Gospel Harmony: Willem van Branteghem on the Soul’s Conformation to Christ — WALTER S. MELION

Before the Preludes: Some Semiotic Observations on Vision, Meditation, and the ‘Fifth Space’ in Early Jesuit Spiritual Illustrated Literature — ANDREA CATELLANI

The Mental Image in Representation: Jean Aumont, L’Ouverture intérieure du royaume de l’Agneau occis dans nos coeurs (1660) — FRÉDÉRIC COUSINIÉ

Process and Metamorphosis of the Image: Ambivalences of the Anagogic Movement in Dionysian Contemplation — CHRISTIAN BELIN

Type and Counter-type: The Ocular and the Imaginary in Erasmus — JACOB VANCE

Decapitation and the Paradox of the Meditative Image: Andrea Solario (1507) and the Transformation and the Transition of the Johannesschüssel from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance — BARBARA BAERT

Ad vivum: Pictorial and Spiritual Imitation in the Allegory of the Pictura sacra by Frans Francken II — RALPH DEKONINCK

An Apprenticeship in ‘Spiritual Painting’: Richeome’s La Peinture spirituelle — JUDI LOACH

Cutting and Pasting at Little Gidding: Bible Illustration and Protestant Belief in Seventeenth-Century England — MICHAEL GAUDIO

Ecstasy and the Cosmopolitan Soul — RICHARD RAMBUSS

An Idolatry of the Letter: Time, Devotion, and Siam in the Almanacs of the Sun King — REBECCA ZORACH


"For those engaged in meditative practices and images, this volume offers important analyses of key works, such as Nadal’s Adnotationes and Richeome’s La Peinture spirituelle. A lovely collection." (Lee Palmer Wandel, in: HNA Reviews)

"Its sum of close analyses of individual works, texts, and contexts does provide a new range of materials, truly interdisciplinary for examining the relationship between seeing and believing." (Larry Silver, in: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. XLIV/2, Summer 2013, p. 479-480)

"This collection will be of interest to not only art and literature historians, but scholars of religious history as well ad the history of ideas." (Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, in: The Medieval Review, 13.10.10)

« La richesse du volume est impressionnante, et l’édition particulièrement soignée. Les reproductions, toutes en noir et blanc, servent le propos érudit, rehaussé par des notes fournies et nombreuses. » (A. Noblesse-Rocher, dans Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses, 4, 2014, p. 462)

Interest Classification:
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Christian devotion & forms of religious expression
Fine Arts & Performing Arts
Art History (general)
Renaissance painting
Modern History (1501 to the present)
Early modern European history (1501-1800) : local & regional history

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