The Paysage Moralis


Erwin Panofsky invented the term paysage moralisé and applied it in the interpretation of three paintings: Raphael's "Allegory (Dream of a Knight"), Piero di Cosimo's "The Discovery of Honey", and Titian's "Sacred and Profane Love". He was mimicked to some degree by such authorities as Millard Meiss and Frederick Hartt ("Carpaccio's Meditation on the Passion"); Mantegna's "Madonna of the Rock". This type of interpretation -- although it has to recommend it an allowance for some admixture of moral doubt in the otherwise sunny world of Renaissance theories of virtue as they are usually reconstructed--reeks of ideological concerns (personal, philosophical, and political) of the 1930s-50s and 60s. Panofsky's interpretations have often been rejected piecemeal since, but the bi-polar model of Renaissance morality they implied remains largely unchallenged. A tension between, and potential for conflation of, the concepts of paysage moralise and disguised or concealed symbolism is also discussed.

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Artibus et Historiae


IRSA (Istituto per le Ricerche di Storia dell'Arte)

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© 1995 IRSA s.c.