Grieving Images

Elizabeth Helsinger

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Grieving Images

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This article investigates the visual elegy on the nineteenth-century painting. It also addresses several kinds of art — primarily paintings — that provide alternatives to memorial and grave arts: pictorial equivalents to the complex reflections of poetic elegies. It concentrates on the elegiac pastoral pictures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; romantic ruin-painting; some disturbing variations of the Victorian scene of domestic mourning; and twentieth-century images that combine grief with anger relating to the mass brutalities of war or holocaust, mourning too the inadequacies of traditional elegy faced with these forms of modern death. Scenes of domestic death and mourning, particularly those of children, were a staple of Victorian popular fiction and poetry and the prints and paintings that illustrated it. The immediacy of painting is a resource that can make silent images sharpen attention to the most subtle as to the most extreme forms of feeling.

Keywords: visual elegy; elegiac pastoral pictures; romantic ruin-painting; domestic mourning; grief; anger; domestic death

Article.  8646 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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