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Vision and Affect: Altarpieces with embedded miraculous images in Italy 1510-1610

Project No. G 301

Isabella Augart

Which knowledge do Early Modern images contain on their own potential to arouse affects  in the beholder? The project focuses on the re-staging of older miraculous image which were embedded in new altarpieces in 16th century Italy. Shifting relations between art and cult resulted in the development of a group of over 20 works with interpictorial relations between the miraculous object and the image-frame of the new altarpiece.

Apart from a catalogue raisonné, the dissertation project aims at discussing in case studies the affective potential of the image as expressed in the development of this specific form of altarpieces by artists like Francia, Sodoma, Gamberelli or Lomi up to Rubens Roman altarpieces of the early 17th century.

Altarpieces with embedded miraculous images are a fusion of the form of representation and the form of reception: on one hand, the pictorial representation of affects draws on commenting figures like saints and angles and their respective rhetoric gestures and gaze relations. On the other hand, the multiplied images provide insight in the Early Modern usage of non-rhetorical means of achieving meaning like colour, light, iconic structure, mediality and materiality.

Exploring the fields of history of art, research on emotion, image theory and the history of vision, the dissertation projects discusses various modes of perception of art and cult within a historical framework. The study aims at providing a contribution to recent research questions on the mediality and discursive aspects of affetive constructions in the Early Modern altarpiece.


Art history


Prof. Dr. Klaus Krüger

PD Dr. Dr. Erna Fiorentini