The image and art theories (Ralph Dekoninck – Sophie Lenaerts)


General objectives

This work package aims at renewing our understanding of some theological and philosophical issues at stake within the art and image theories of the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, in order not only to deepen our knowledge of the theoretical foundations of this new type of early-modern literature but also to shed new light on the ways visual arts were conceived and received.

More specifically, we will study the interrelationships between, on the one hand, treatises on images published in the wake of the Council of Trent and, as we will try to demonstrate, inspired by a scholastic framework, and on the other hand, some treatises on art which, as we will also try to demonstrate, are sharing with the literature on images a similar philosophical and theological knowledge.

Part I – Ralph Dekoninck

Part II – Sophie Lenaerts

This part of the work package will be dedicated to the influences of second scholasticism on artistic literature in the late 16th century and in the beginning of the 17th century. We will tackle this issue through the prism of a particular creative faculty, imagination, and we will examine how the art theoreticians conceived it at the time. We will focus on a series of artistic and religious treatises (Gabriele Paleotti, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, Federico Zuccari, Franciscus Junius…) that express a new conception of art and the image in a post-Tridentine context. This period is indeed characterized by a more metaphysical approach to the great theoretical questions on images and creation (creative faculties, relation with nature and God, inspiration, idolatry, status of the image and the artist…), art theoreticians being less concerned by technical and biographical issues than before. The concepts of phantasia, idea, disegno and concetto will be studied simultaneously in order to determine their role in the cognitive and creative faculties of the mind and in order to establish their relations with scholasticism, including Thomism (borrowing of words, ideas and frames of thought).


See bibliography