Studies in Western Art No.1
Special Issue : IMAGE AND TEXT

March, 1999



Editor's Foreword

Shigetoshi Osano

Towards a‘Flight of Icarus’



Shigetoshi Osano

The Detroit St. Jerome in His Study Reconsidered
A History of Mentalities and Reception of the Painting

On the basis of Hall's recently reinforced interpretation of the Detroit St. Jerome in His Study, the author attempts to shed light on the mental/cultural-historic background, or the cult of the saint nourished among the 14th and 15th century humanists which induced Jan van Eyck to depict Cardinal Albergati under the guise of the saint. It likely enabled those participants in the protocol gift-offering scene of the panel from Philip the Good to the cardinal at the 1435 Congress of Arras to recognize the donor's intent. A specified history of the panel's making, changing possession and reception is not also reaffirmed merely by biographical sources about the Italian prelate and the Medici 1456, 1465 and 1492 inventories(those of Piero and Lorenzo the Magnificent), but also by some Florentine works of art drawing inspiration from the panel. In particular, somewhat private pictorial/inscriptional messages of the work might well be closely related to the original mode of protecting the small panel in a 'guaina' (probably a leather case), most likely even after inserted in a frame fitted with a protective sliding or spring-loaded shutter.

Yoshinori Kyotani

The Vase of Rea Silvia and the Shield of Aeneas
Interpreting the Iconography of the Frescos of the Sala dei Mesi in the Schifanoia Palace

The long-mouthed vase placed on the bottom frame of the upper section of the December panel of the frescoes of the Schifanoia Palace, which is based on Servius's commentaries on Aeneid and Ovid's Fasti, can allude to Rea Silvia's conception of Romulus. The Latin translation of Plutarch's Parallel Lives(published in 1470)says that Rea Silvia conceived Romulus in December and Romulus was born in September. The data correspond to the fact that in the frescoes the vase which can allude to the conception of Romulus is represented in the December panel and the shield of Aeneas with the wolf fostering infant Romulus appears in the September panel. The frescoes of Schifanoia Palace were projected to celebrate Borso d'Este's investiture as Duke of Ferrara. So it is possible to think that the vase of December and the shield of September were inserted in the frescoes in order to compare Borso d'Este, the first duke of Ferrara with Romulus, the founding father of Rome.

Toshiharu Nakamura

A Study of The Horrors of War by Rubens
The Story of Mars and Venus, its Allegorical Meanings and the Iconographic Tradition

In The Horrors of War by Rubens, we see Mars leave Venus, though she strives to restrain him with embraces, and advance with his bloodstained sword into the battlefield. Since ancient times, their tie has been regarded as a guarantee for peace. Rubens only inverted the image of their tie into that of parting, and thus succeeded in the creation of a 'live allegory'. But in the iconographic tradition, their relation was usually shown in a very erotic way. Therefore by showing Venus and her lover Mars together, it was not easy to create a respectable image which is suitable for transmitting an important political message. Amusing episodes centered on their secret meeting are told in Homer's and Ovid's texts. Referring to these texts, some painters represented Mars and Venus in a bedroom. On the other hand, a representation of sleeping Mars as an allegory of peace was also disseminated. It was only after several, unsatisfactory trials that Rubens found a marvellous solution for representing the relation between the God of War and the Goddess of Love in a persuasive way. He showed Mars's departure from Venus instead of their meeting, i.e., war instead of peace.

Oskar Baetschmann
Translated by Kayo Hirakawa

Giovan Pietro Bellori's Description of Paintings

Giovan Pietro Bellori(1613-96)made an important contribution to early archaeology, numismatics, and art history. His most famous publication in the art history sphere is the Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects(Vite de'pittori, scultori, architetti moderni). In his description of paintings he presented himself as a 'semplice traduttore'(simple translator). This meant, however, not to renounce the interpretation of paintings, but to translate the elements of paintings into a sequence of meanings, for example, 'allegoria'(allegory). His rhetoric of silence was not a simple rhetorical stance, but indicated the fundamental superiority of arts to eloquence. Regarding the question of differences between poetry and painting, which occurred in dialogues with Nicolas Poussin, Bellori came to the conclusion that while the former tells a story sequentially, the latter shows it simultaneously. Unlike the French theorists, who, through the analysis of masterpieces, sought to discover the principles of the painting, Bellori's description aimed to pass onto posterity the knowledge of masterpieces, which would be destroyed through time.

Atsushi Miura

A Lost Painting and a Criticism of the Salon
On A Toast! - Homage to the Truth by Fantin-Latour

A Toast!−Homage to the Truth by Fantin-Latour, exhibited in the Salon of 1865 and later cut up by the painter himself, has not been sufficiently studied. In this article, I analyze this lost painting from several different points of view. Through exhaustive research of its preparatory drawings and the Salon reviews of 1865 which mention it, I attempt to reconstruct the original work. As a result one realizes that the nude symbolizing "Truth" in A Toast! represents an ambiguous mixture of allegory and reality, similar to the feminine figures of Manet and Whistler. This painting must therefore be understood within the context of the new Realist painting of the 1860s, when Manet and Fantin-Latour were called not only "realiste", but also "excentrique", both in subject and style. A Toast!-Homage to the Truth is an original group portrait that serves as a manifesto of the modern artists who developed a sphere of activity outside of the academic institutions of nineteenth-century French painting.

Tsukasa Kodera

Vanishing 'Crows' and 'Wheatfields'
Deconstruction of Van Gogh Myths in Recent Films

In verbal and visual narratives on Van Gogh(biographies, novels, 'bio-pics', exhibitions, monographs and so on)the Wheatfield with Crows(1890)has very often played the role of the 'last work', though it has never been established that the painting was Van Gogh's last work. In this article I wish to show first how the role of the 'last work' came to be assigned to the painting through various media and how it came to function as narrative closure in Van Gogh narratives.
I will discuss further how some mythical 'facts' and popular narrative patterns in Van Gogh narratives have been treated in recent bio-pics. In Vincent and Theo by Robert Altman(1990), Wheatfield with Crows is not shown as Van Gogh's last work, but the myth of the last work is still preserved in a sophisticated way. In Van Gogh by Anna Benson Gyles(TV drama BBC, 1990), on the contrary, every popular Van Gogh myth has been deconstructed.

Tetsuhiro Kato

Image and Text
Narrative Painting and the Problem of Interpretation

How does a narrative painting 'narrate' a story in comparison with verbal storytelling by words? And, how can a professional interpreter of art approach properly pictorial narration? Narratology, the 'science' of stories, has made clear the functional roles of basic structural elements of narrative discourse. And reading act theory, which compensates narratology with its pragmatic perspectives, emphasizes that the story itself is located not in the text made by an author but in the image concretized in the interaction between text and reader. On the other hand, according to the reception aesthetics of painting, which grew out of findings in reception aesthetics in literary criticism, a pictorial image is considered as a 'text' in its interrelation to the historical, cultural, or mythological context. Consequently, when we try to get access to the descriptions or depictions of a story in a narrative painting, a new interpretational strategy, which avoids the traditional idea that image and text must be treated separately in sharp contrast, will be necessary.

State of Research

Motokazu Kimata

Pro lectione pictura est? : Pope Gregory I, Image, Text

Akira Akiyama

Image in Text, or a Bibliographical Study on Ekphrasis

Book Review

Motokazu Kimata

M. Schapiro "Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language"

Exhibition Review

Kikuro Miyashita

Lorenzo Lotto in Bergamo
looking at 'il genio inquieto'(the Vagabond Genius)

Naoki Sato

Kunstmuseum Basel "Duerer-Holbein-Gruenewald. Meisterzeichnungen der deutschen Renaissance aus Berlin und Basel"
; The National Gallery, London "Making & Meaning : Holbein's Ambassadors"

Reiko Tomii

The Jackson Pollock Exhibition in New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1998

Hot News

Miyuki Ozeki

New Gemaeldegalerie Berlin
Reunion of the Works of Art formerly in West and East Berlin