Seeing Culture in a Room for a Renaissance Prince

Randolph Starn

in The New Cultural History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 1989 | ISBN: 9780520064287
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908925 | DOI:
Seeing Culture in a Room for a Renaissance Prince

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  • Theory and Practice of Anthropology


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This chapter demonstrates the effect of literary theory in its analysis of the fifteenth-century frescoes of Andrea Mantegna. It also addresses the domain of “seeing” as opposed to “reading.” A new typology of seeing that includes what is termed the glance, the measured view, and the scan is presented. It then reviews the process of seeing by showing that even forms have historical content. Mantegna's square-and-circle design foists a double order on the viewer, once in its centering geometry, and once again as an archetype of perfect proportion. Documentary research, iconography, and connoisseurship, the prevailing art-historical paradigms, have entered only marginally into the analysis.

Keywords: literary theory; Andrea Mantegna; frescoes; seeing; glance; scan

Chapter.  8894 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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