1st Edition

Images-within-Images in Italian Painting (1250-1350) Reality and Reflexivity

By Péter Bokody Copyright 2015
    264 Pages 20 Color & 70 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    The rebirth of realistic representation in Italy around 1300 led to the materialization of a pictorial language, which dominated Western art until 1900, and it dominates global visual culture even today. Paralleling the development of mimesis, self-reflexive pictorial tendencies emerged as well. Images-within-images, visual commentaries of representations by representations, were essential to this trend. They facilitated the development of a critical pictorial attitude towards representation. This book offers the first comprehensive study of Italian meta-painting in the age of Giotto and sheds new light on the early modern and modern history of the phenomenon. By combining visual hermeneutics and iconography, it traces reflexivity in Italian mural and panel painting at the dawn of the Renaissance, and presents novel interpretations of several key works of Giotto di Bondone and the Lorenzetti brothers. The potential influence of the contemporary religious and social context on the program design is also examined situating the visual innovations within a broader historical horizon. The analysis of pictorial illusionism and reality effect together with the liturgical, narrative and typological role of images-within-images makes this work a pioneering contribution to visual studies and premodern Italian culture.

    Contents: Introduction; Essential images-within-images; Illusionism; Reality effect; Meta-images; Meanings; Embedded narrative; Image and devotion; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    Péter Bokody curated the exhibition Image and Christianity in 2014 at the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma, Hungary. He is Lecturer in Art History, Plymouth University, UK.

    Prize: Winner of an ICMA-Samuel H. Kress Research Grant 2013

    'Reflexivity is the name of the game they say when it comes to modern and especially to postmodern art. This study tells a different story. Péter Bokody's book goes back to where it all began: to Italian Trecento painting which marks the beginnings of the realistic mode. Realism means, among many other things, that one medium can embed another medium. If it does so it will enhance its realistic potential, strengthen the meaning of the whole scene and, finally, it makes a meta-statement: about the power of images, the different qualities of the artforms or even about stylistic options.' - Wolfgang Kemp, University of Hamburg, Germany

    'Bokody's book combines visual sensitivity, methodological variety, historical erudition and theoretical sophistication. His work encourages us to think with more precision and flexibility about the concepts of "realism" and reflexivity as applied to the achievements of Giotto and his contemporaries and in relation to subsequent generations of artists. Bokody provides fresh insights for all those who study, admire and teach this material.' - Joanna Cannon, Courtauld Institute of Art, UK

    'Engagingly written, this study will add significantly to our understanding of Giotto and his circle (including Lorenzetti, Gaddi and Daddi) in the dynamically changing world of fourteenth century Italy. Although primarily concerned with images within images in panel and mural painting, the work goes beyond its initial parameters and looks at such concepts as realism, spatial relations, illusionism, meta-painting, self-reflexivity, time and reception in Italian art. It is a study which exposes the viewer to new ideas and details that could easily be passed and whose iconography is significant in understanding the work in its entirety.' - Colum Hourihane, Independent Scholar, UK

    "The author makes a wholly convincing case for the intellectual weight and pictorial sophistication of Giottesque painting, for a depth of meaning and reflexivity that demands inclusion within the larger narratives that continue to shape the discipline." - Art and Christianity

    "This is a clever book that reinvestigates familiar, if often overlooked, aspects of this significant moment in Italian art." - Parergon

    "Bokody's careful reading of images provides a clear model for others." - The Medieval Review

    "The strength of the book is the thoughtful consideration of fascinating details in mostly well-known mural and panel paintings." - The Burlington Magazine

    "With detailed descriptions and meticulous use of history of art methodologies, with an emphasis on the importance of iconography, Péter Bokody has made a very valuable contribution to the scholarly research of the art in Italy around 1300." - IKON: Journal of Iconographic Studies