1st Edition

The Expression of Emotion in the Visual Arts

Edited By Derek Matravers, Vanessa Brassey Copyright 2025
    240 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The visual arts have long been held to have an intimate link with the emotions. Despite this, the topic remains underexplored; when the expression of emotion is discussed it is usually in relation to music.

    This volume corrects this lacuna and presents a variety of perspectives on the expression of emotion in the visual arts with contributions from both established and early career academics. There are chapters on the empathy theory of beauty; enaction and artistic expression; emotion and experimental psychology; a 'persona' theory of visual expression; and self-expression in portraiture. There are also chapters discussing the contributions to the topic by of Susanne Langer and Richard Wollheim, as well as a chapter comparing the work of R.G. Collingwood and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

    The Expression of Emotion in the Visual Arts will be of interest to students and researchers in the philosophy of art and aesthetics as well as those interested in conceptual issues in the visual arts.

    Introduction Derek Matravers and Vanessa Brassey

    1. Empathy, the Aesthetic Emotion, and Expression in the Visual Arts Derek Matravers

    2. Empathy, Enaction, and Artistic Expression Jesse Prinz

    3. Affective Expression in the Visual Arts Mitchell Green

    4. What makes a painting sad? Vanessa Brassey

    5. Susanne K. Langer on Art as Expression of the Form of Feeling Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin

    6. Articulating the Visible: Collingwood and Merleau-Ponty on Expression in Painting David Collins

    7. Portraits, Expression, and Morality Matteo Ravasio

    8. The Viewer’s Share: An Examination of the Role of Projection in Pictorial Expression Elisa Galgut.



    Derek Matravers is Professor of Philosophy at The Open University and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, UK. He has written Art and Emotion (1998), Introducing Philosophy of Art: Eight Case Studies (Routledge, 2013); Fiction and Narrative (2014); Empathy (2017); and, with Helen Frowe, Stones and Lives: The Ethics of Protecting Heritage in War (2024). He has been the co-editor on several collections, and is the author of numerous articles in aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophy of mind. He edits, with Paloma Atencia-Linares, The British Journal of Aesthetics.

    Vanessa Brassey is a Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London, UK, and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy of Visual Arts. Her research focuses on the malleability and adeptness of our perspective-taking and the role this plays in our appreciation of the visual arts. She was previously the postdoctoral fellow for the British Society of Aesthetics and is also an exhibiting figurative painter.