Angels, Devils

Angels, Devils: The Supernatural and Its Visual Representation

Edited by Gerhard Jaritz
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 218
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbng3
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    Angels, Devils
    Book Description:

    Supernatural phenomena and causalities played an important role in medieval society. Religious practice was relying upon a set of cult images and the sacral status of these depictions of divine or supernatural persons became the object of heated debates and provoked iconoclastic reactions. The miraculous intervention of saints or other divine agents, the wondrous realities beyond understanding, or the manifestations of magic attributed to diabolic forces, were contained by a variety of discourses, described and discussed in religion, philosophy, chronicles, literature and fiction, and also in a large number of pictures and material objects. The nine essays in this collection discusses how supernatural phenomena – especially angels and devils – found visual manifestation in Latin and Eastern Christianity as well as Judaism in the late medieval, early renaissance period.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-23-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. 1-2)
    Gerhard Jaritz
  5. THE BEAM OF GRACE AND THE OCULAR PARADIGM. SOME REMARKS ON THE RELATION BETWEEN LATE MEDIEVAL THEOLOGY AND ART
    (pp. 3-16)
    Norbert Schnitzler

    About 1440 the Florentine Painter Filippo Lippi finished his work on the Annunciation altarpiece for the church of San Lorenzo (fig. 1). At first glance one is captivated by the strict spatial composition, a structure of different spatial elements oriented towards a vantage point which is hidden – a common visual trick – by a column. One is almost literally “sucked” into the visual narrative. A further element of this spatial composition occupies the foreground – a landing or a sort of step which passes over into the frame – and evokes a counter-movement in the onlooker, a counter-movement against...

  6. Visual Images of the Supernatural in the Late Middle Ages, or, How to Make the Entities Recognizable that Are not Part of Our Natural World
    (pp. 17-28)
    Gerhard Jaritz

    A cradle with a six-week-old baby in it fell from a bench onto another child so that both of them died. Their mother prayed to the Virgin of the Styrian pilgrimage, Mariazell. By the latter’s intervention both children became alive again (fig. 1).¹ In the visual image of this miracle report, from about 1519, the accident is shown as well as the image of the mediating Virgin, whose representation was clearly recognizable for ‘everybody,’ as it followed a regular pattern (fig. 2).² A descriptive caption strengthened the message.³ Thus, the text and its visual representation show that the supernatural and...

  7. … IN DIVERSAS FIGURAS NEQUITIAE: THE DEVIL’S IMAGE FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF RHETORIC
    (pp. 29-50)
    Alexander E. Makhov

    This article deals with some features of the devil’s visual image which might be regarded as, at least, unnatural. But “unnatural” is a negative definition: if these visual features do not belong to “nature”, then to what type or level of existence do they belong? We are inclined to believe that all that is not “nature” may be seen as “supernatural”; but can one really say with good reason that the devil is supernatural? We have to keep in mind when discussing a problem of the supernatural in medieval culture that we are in danger of introducing an idea which,...

  8. DEVILS IN VISUAL PROXIMITY
    (pp. 51-74)
    Helmut Hundsbichler

    Considering cultural phenomena of the past we must take into account possible differences between nowadays’ views and the views which were relevant in the past. This topical ethnological postulate might meanwhile be taken as dispensable, but I want to affirm it here because the need for that differentiation becomes evident particularly with regard to medieval discourses related to the supernatural. For instance, it would be inadequate to assign medieval discourses on the supernatural straightforwardly to superstition or to magic, because we have to consider as supernatural both the demonical sphere and the divine sphere. For Christianity they are interdependent: Christian...

  9. SUPERNATURAL FIGURES INCOGNITO
    (pp. 75-92)
    Béla Zsolt Szakács

    The identification of supernatural beings is not always easy. In the visual arts, angels and devils are regularly marked with conventional signs such as horns or wings, which facilitate their recognition. However, in certain cases the real identity of a supernatural figure is hidden. This is frequently connected to legends in which an important element of the narration is the fact that the participant is not able to recognise whom he or she is meeting. In the Christian literature this goes back to the Gospels. After the resurrection of Christ, his personality was usually not identified without difficulty. The first...

  10. GUARDIANS OR AVENGERS? DEPICTIONS OF ANGELS ON TRANSYLVANIAN ALTARPIECES FROM THE LATE MEDIEVAL PERIOD
    (pp. 93-116)
    Maria Crăciun

    As is usual for a polyptych decorating a Marian altar, the altarpiece of Biertan (Birthälm, Berethalom) has an extended Infancy cycle depicted on the interior of the wings.¹ The Flight into Egypt is part of this cycle. In this scene, Mary and the Christ Child have not yet alighted from the donkey, while Joseph is trying to pick the fruit of a palm tree. Angels, mostly clad in white, hover in the branches of the tree. This image raises questions about the relation between the image and its textual sources and the role of the angels in this composition. For...

  11. HEAVENLY ENVOYS: ANGELS IN JEWISH ART
    (pp. 117-134)
    Zsófia Buda

    The abstract nature of God in Judaism required the existence of intermediaries between God and the created world. Therefore, angels as servants and agents of God were present in Jewish thought from biblical times. The word for angel in the Bible is maleakh or maleakh ha-shem, that is, messenger or messenger of the Lord. Although the Bible does not have a consistent angelology, besides messengers it mentions various kinds of heavenly beings (cherubim, seraphim), who were later classified within the order of angels. In the Bible, the term maleakh can refer either to human or divine messengers; and vice versa,...

  12. THE REINCARNATIONS OF ENOCH FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO THE RENAISSANCE
    (pp. 135-152)
    György E. Szőnyi

    A perplexing text, the Apocalypse of Enoch, has become a treasure of modern occultists. For example, it was translated into Hungarian by the esoteric philosopher, Béla Hamvas, and the publication appeared during the last days of the war in 1945 (fig. 1: title page of the Hungarian edition).¹ But one does not have to go that far; it is enough to search the internet for Enoch, and various references, including many visual representations, come up. One striking example is the webpage called ‘Zulu Nation,’ which does not originate in Africa; it is an American-international site for hip-hop rock and life...

  13. IMAGES TO INFLUENCE THE SUPERNATURAL: APOTROPAIC REPRESENTATIONS ON MEDIEVAL STOVE TILES
    (pp. 153-198)
    Anna Maria Gruia

    Ever since their “invention” in the early fourteenth century, medieval stove tiles have carried various types of representations:

    heraldic ones to show the identity and status of their owner;

    religious ones to match the devotions of the time;

    geometric ones to imitate architecture and delight the eye;

    lay stories to instruct and entertain.

    At least, this is the way in which we think they might have been perceived by their medieval beholders. But there are also other representations that do not fit so well into any of these groups and are more ambiguous as to their possible function. These are...

  14. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 199-200)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 201-206)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-207)