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Donor Portraits in Byzantine Art
The Vicissitudes of Contact between Human and Divine

$84.00 USD

  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108314190

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About the Authors
  • This book explores the range of images in Byzantine art known as donor portraits. It concentrates on the distinctive, supplicatory contact shown between ordinary, mortal figures and their holy, supernatural interlocutors. The topic is approached from a range of perspectives, including art history, theology, structuralist and post-structuralist anthropological theory, and contemporary symbol and metaphor theory. Rico Franses argues that the term 'donor portraits' is inappropriate for the category of images to which it conventionally refers and proposes an alternative title for the category, contact portraits. He contends that the most important feature of the scenes consists in the active role that they play within the belief systems of the supplicants. They are best conceived of not simply as passive expressions of stable, pre-existing ideas and concepts, but as dynamic proponents in a fraught, constantly shifting landscape. The book is important for all scholars and students of Byzantine art and religion.

    • Proposes a new understanding of donor portraits
    • Adopts approaches drawn from critical theory and post-structuralist theory
    • Considers the active role that images play within belief systems
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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108314190
    • contains: 64 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: methodologies for the study of donor portraits
    1. The history and problematic of the donor portrait
    2. On meaning in portraits. The knot of intention and the question of the patron's share
    3. Awaiting the end after the end. Sin, absolution, and the afterlife
    4. Exchange and non-exchange. The gift between human and divine
    5. The literal, the symbolic, and the contact portrait. On belief in the interaction between human and divine
    Postscript: the problem of terminology again. Donor portraits and contact portraits.

  • Author

    Rico Franses, American University of Beirut
    Rico Franses is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts and Art History, American University of Beirut, and Director of the University Art Galleries and Collections.

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