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The Living Icon in Byzantium and Italy is the first book to explore the emergence and function of a novel pictorial format in the Middle Ages, the vita icon, which displayed the magnified portrait of a saint framed by scenes from his or her life. The vita icon was used for depicting the most popular figures in the Orthodox calendar and, in the Latin West, was deployed most vigorously in the service of Francis of Assisi. This book offers a compelling account of how this type of image embodied and challenged the prevailing structures of vision, representation, and sanctity in Byzantium and among the Franciscans in Italy between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Through the lens of this format, Paroma Chatterjee uncovers the complexities of the philosophical and theological issues that had long engaged both the medieval East and West, such as the fraught relations between words and images, relics and icons, a representation and its subject, and the very nature of holy presence.Read more
- This is the first book on the vita image and its importance in Byzantium and Italy
- Revises established ideas concerning both the Byzantine and the Franciscan aesthetic
- Draws on an array of images and texts (hagiographies, sermons, legal tenets, conciliar edicts) and explores more broadly how the saint was represented in the medieval era
Reviews & endorsements
"Paroma Chatterjee's book presents a precise and intelligent study of the vita icons of saints produced in Italy and in Byzantium. Her readings of these distinctive works are informed by current discussions in the literature and by broader theoretical concerns. As such, this is a book that builds a scrupulous and articulate case for a fluid and dynamic understanding of the icon."
Charles Barber, Princeton UniversitySee more reviews
"… a thoughtful, nuanced, theoretically sophisticated, and provocative study that will challenge the reader."
Anne Derbes, Hood College
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- Date Published: March 2014
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107034969
- length: 297 pages
- dimensions: 262 x 188 x 15 mm
- weight: 0.82kg
- contains: 34 b/w illus. 16 colour illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction: the metaphor of the 'living icon'
1. The saint in the text
2. The saint in the image
3. 'Wrought by the finger of God'
4. Depicting Francis' secret
Epilogue: Francis in Constantinople.
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