Reference : Le portrait dévotionnel dans la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas entre 1400 et 1550 : ap...
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : Art & art history
Le portrait dévotionnel dans la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas entre 1400 et 1550 : approche méthodologique pour une analyse du langage de l'image
Falque, Ingrid mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences historiques > Histoire de l'art et archéologie du moyen-âge >]
Revue Belge d'Archéologie et d'Histoire de l'Art
Académie Royale d'Archéologie de Belgique
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] portrait dévotionnel ; peinture flamande ; primitifs flamands ; iconographie ; langage de l'image
[en] From the early Middle Ages onwards devotional portraits are well attested but during
the 15th century they occupy a prominent place in the pictorial production of the ancient
Low Countries. If at first these portraits were largely reserved to princes and kings, they now
spread into broader social circles. Bourgeois, nobles, ducal officials and clergy wanted to leave
traces of their piety and their presence on earth. This resulted in an amplification and diversification without precedent of religious works including one or more portraits. In the course of the 16th century however this trend slackened.During the 15th and 16th centuries, the integration of a portrait into a religious composition
can take many forms. The sponsor is often portrayed on his knees, hands clasped, but he
can also act as privileged follower situated among the saints, or even take part in the scene
itself, through the features of one of the protagonists. The corpus, comprising over 750 works
for the 15th and 16th centuries, shows many variations of these basic formulas, suggesting a
multiplicity of meanings and functions of these works.
The specific nature of this pictorial production, mixing sacred and profane elements, asks
for a study that does justice to this dual nature. The analysis establishes a classification based
on a typology combining the physical structure of works (front / rear, central part / wings)
and the symbolic structuring of the fictional space they show (how the sacred and the profane
area are differentiated, the gradation or the fusion between both areas). It also takes into
account the presence of figures of mediation, in particular the patron saints. The stylistic
approach focuses initially on the iconographic language that is used and aims to identify the
semantic units before referring to external textual sources (archives, literature of devotion
etc.). These in turn play a vital role in better understanding the often complex motivations
of the devotees who are portrayed. By their presence in the image they wish to express a
prayer, a vow, and especially to ensure their salvation in the hereafter. But their portraits
also reflect a concern for self-representation, as evidenced by sumptuous clothing, jewelry,
emblems which indicate the social rank and the position they occupy in society.
The article demonstrates the importance of a rigorous cluster analysis, which outlines the
issues as they appear after the confrontation with all known iconographic parallels.
Researchers ; Professionals

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