The Invented Audience Allegorical Power of Persuasion as Visual Strategy
PDF, 26 pages
It is not just the painting that needs a beholder. The allegorical literature at the end of the Middle Ages is addressed to listeners as well as to spectators: the elaborated tableaux developed at the mind’s eye implicitly address a large audience. The prototypic description of paintings on the gardenwalls of the Roman de la Rose as well as sealed documents in the hands of abstract personifications seem to provide the allegorical dream fictions with a realistic note. In a broader context, the article describes the influence of late medieval allegorical texts on different modes of visual perception.
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).