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Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe. Lecture 11 History Painting Week 12, Spring Term. Outline 1. Images as historical sources 2. What is history painting? 3. Legitimising power 4. Mobilising the nation 5. Subversive paintings 6. Conclusion.

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Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe

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Nation and Memory in Eastern Europe

Lecture 11

History Painting

Week 12, Spring Term


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is history painting?

3. Legitimising power

4. Mobilising the nation

5. Subversive paintings

6. Conclusion


Images are part of the culture and cannot be understood without a knowledge of this culture


Panofsky’s theory of iconographyStages of iconographical research

1. Pre-iconographical descriptionthe primary (natural) subject-matter – what is it? – world of objects, events – knowledge of history of style

2. Iconographicalanalysisthe secondary (conventional) subject-matter – what is it specifically? – world of images, stories, allegories – knowledge of history of types

3. Iconologicalinterpretation – the intrinsic meaning or content – what does it mean? – world of symbolic values – knowledge of history and symbols


Critics

  • Panofsky doesn’t distinguish between the intended and unintended symbolic meanings of an artwork

  • Too much emphasis on intuition: to explain the unintended meaning we must have deep knowledge of cultural history

  • Neglect of paintings which do not reflect presupposed view of spirit of epoch

    Tendency towards over-interpretation

  • Disregard of social history of art

  • Neglect of reception and Wirkungsgeschichte (history of effects)


Political Iconography

asks about the Wirkungsgeschichte (history of effects) of art as carrier of political messages


What can you get from analysing images?

  • Information about material culture

  • Essence of an epoch

  • Interpretation of specific events

  • Gestures and facial expressions

  • History of emotions

  • And many other things


What should you know?

  • Who? – Who created the image?

  • For whom? – Who ordered or bought the painting? Who was expected to look at this image?

  • When? When was the image created?

  • What? – Topic of painting, symbols,

  • Why? – Aim of the painter and client

  • How does the image compare with other evidence available? Could it be a fake or intended to deceive the viewer?

  • How was it perceived? Reception and Wirkungsgeschichte (history of effects)


Literature

Peter Burke, Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (London, 2001)

Roelof van Straten, Iconography, indexing, ICONCLASS: A handbook (Leiden, 1994)


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is history painting?

3. Legitimising power

4. Mobilising the nation

5. Hidden meaning

6. Conclusion


History painting

The painting of scenes from the past

Very often the painting of scenes from classical and Christian history and mythology, but also contemporary scenes

The painter as historian


Was the painter an eyewitness?

If not: Where did he get his information from?

  • eyewitnesses

  • literary sources

  • earlier paintings or illustrations?

    What are the conventions?

  • Did the painter include conventional motives from other paintings? Did he use tropes?

  • How far does the painting reflect the individual scene, how far is it a topical scene?


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is History painting?

3. Legitimizing power

4. Mobilization for the nation

5. Subversive painting

6. Conclusion


Louis Caravaque, Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava (1709), 1718


Johann Gottfried Tannauer. Peter the Great During the Battle of Poltava. 1710s.


Nikolai S. Shustov, Ivan III tearing the Khans letter, 1862


Icon of Alexander Nevsky (Saint and Prince), 1879


Prince Alexander Nevsky, painting by Pavel Knorin, 1942


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is History painting?

3. Legitimizing power

4. Mobilization for the nation

5. Subversive painting

6. Conclusion


Franz A. Rubo (1856-1928)

The Battle of Borodino. Panorama

115 x 15 m

The Battle at 12:30 on the 7th of September 1812


Jan Matejko

The Battle of Grunwald 1410

1878


Jan Matejko (1838-1893), Self-portrait


Jan Matejko, The jester Stanczyk during a Ball at the Court of Queen Bona after the Loss of Smolensk (1512), 1862


The Battle of Grunwald 1410, (Jan Matejko, 1878)


Grand prince Vytautas (Witold), representing Lithuania


Zyndram of Maszkowice, representing the nobility (szlachta)


The Grand Master (Hochmeister) of the Teutonic Order Ulrich von Jungingen, representing the „German“ enemy

Two soldiers, representing the people


Saint Stanislav, representing the Church


Exhibition of the Grunwald painting in Warsaw


Jan Matejko

The Battle of Raclawice 1794


Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak

Panorama of the Battle of Raclawice


Mobilizing for the nation and foreign propaganda


Jan Matejko, Sobieski at Vienna (1683), 1883


Jan Matejko, Rejtan – The Fall of Poland (1773), 1866


Cossacks


Jan Matejko, Khmelnytsky and Tuhaj Bej at Lwow (L‘viv) (1650), 1885


Ilja Repin: The letter of the Zaporizhian cossacks to Sultan Mahmud IV (1880-1891)


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is History painting?

3. Legitimizing power

4. Mobilization for the nation

5. Subversive painting

6. Conclusion


Vasily V. Vereshchagin (1842-1904), The Patriotic War of 1812. Series of Canvasses


"The horrors of war, brutality and wild frenzy of battles; inexpressible sufferings of innocent victims sent to be killed; voluntariness and naivety of those victims that are performing War like any other employment… heroism and simplicity of soul; entire fields of killed and mutilated; thousands of wounded plunged at the aid points in such an infernal sufferings that have no name; wagon trains of mutilated… dozens of miles of snow plains where hundreds and thousands of abandoned and wounded were freezing to slow and terrible death; and all these painted with inimitable fire and skill with enthusiasm coming from the depth of the shocked soul - that's what created the canvases that no one had ever painted in Europe".

V.V.Stasov "Twenty five years of Russian art".


Henryk Siemiradzki, Nero’s Torches, 1876


Outline

1. Images as historical sources

2. What is History painting?

3. Legitimizing power

4. Mobilization for the nation

5. Subversive painting

6. Conclusion


Conclusion

  • Images do not offer a direct view in the social reality of the past

  • Images offer specific contemporary views of the past

  • Images have to be contextualized (cultural, political, material context)

  • Images as sources have to be assessed critically


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