See and Be Amazed! Spectator Figures in Persian Manuscript Painting
PDF, 18 pages
The figure of the inner-pictorial viewer is present in so-called Persian book painting already from the Ilkhanid period of the 13th Century onwards. The article investigates the changing forms and functions of such figures up to the 16th Century in regard to the text-image-relations essential to the medium. It will be argued that the beholders within the images implicitly address the act of seeing (and its different ways of conveying emotions and cognition) and thus become figures of reflection for the extra-pictorial viewer and his/her own gaze at the painting. This constellation initiates a visual discourse on the faculties of painting that finds its counterpart in art theoretical texts of the time.
The invention of depicting figures participating in an event — nameless bystanders, beholders, and onlookers — marks an important change in the ways artists addressed the beholder of the artworks themselves. This shift speaks to a significant transformation of the relationship between images and their audience. The public in the picture acts as mediator between times, persons, and contents. The contributions of this volume describe this moment from a diachronic and transcultural perspective, while each of them focuses on a specific group of works revealing a new moment in this history. They explore the cultural contexts of the political and religious public, and relate the rise of the public in the picture to the rise of perspectival representation (Panofsky’s space-box and Kemp’s Chronotopos).