Paintings are silent but they want to tell us things – sometimes they tell simple stories, but sometimes they send subtle messages; messages which intend to elevate, educate, warn, or criticise. A medieval altarpiece, a Renaissance portrait, a Dutch still life, a Baroque ceiling painting, or a Victorian genre scene, all resort to symbolism to tell their stories. This two part talk looks at the rich tradition of symbols, attributes, personifications, emblems, and allegories used by artists through the ages to tell us so much more than meets the eye.
In this talk we will look at the way symbols helped those unable to read to identify who is who in pieces of the Middle Ages, how they transformed a simple domestic interior in Flanders into a scene of religious significance, how they alluded to a delicate political situation in a portrait by Holbein and sent warning messages about the dangers of love in a 16th century painting for the Italian court.
Nov. 8: Looking for Georgia
Nov. 15: Decoding Symbols in Paintings part l
Nov. 22: Decoding Symbols in Paintings part l