Landscapes, Vegetation, and Folklore in Late Medieval Art : An Iconographic Study Based on Selected Austrian and South German Panel Paintings

Fresh approaches to visual methods in landscape studies

Auteur(s) et Affiliation(s)

Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University, Tillinn, Estonie

Description :
This article examines the symbolism and realism of naturalistically depicted flowering plants in Late Gothic art from Southern Central Europe. A large number of fifteenth- to sixteenth-century pre-Reformation panel paintings with a landscape context were studied in order to learn about their plant species, the contexts the plants were shown in, and their symbolism in connection to religious subjects. Paintings were studied in groups of 1) roadsides and execution sites and 2) fenced meadows, gardens and courtyards. In addition, the seasonality of depicted plants was observed in the scenes of the Passion cycle and in the scene of the Visitation. The realism of these landscapes was manifested in these pictures by showing plants growing in places they belonged to naturally or culturally, and in seasons of religious feasts that the paintings were connected with. However, this realism was not consistent, but combined with plant metaphors and symbols, neatly associated to the subject, and recognised by plants’ overall frequency, placement, properties and naming. Plant names in late medieval and early modern herbals appeared to be a particularly good tool for understanding their possible meanings in paintings, assuming that the first question the late medieval viewer could have asked was: What is this ? The religious art of the period is rich in links between natural and cultural environments; from it we can learn about the diversity of past vegetation as well as the spirituality and poetics of the society.

Type de document :
Article de monographie

Source :
Landscape research (Online), issn : 1469-9710, 2014, vol. 39, n°. 4, p. 1-26, nombre de pages : 26, Références bibliographiques : 3 p.

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Editeur :
Pays édition : Royaume-Uni, Abingdon, Taylor and Francis

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