Table of Contents
June 2013, Volume 95 Number 2
Horst Woldemar Janson, among the most influential of the German art historians who immigrated to the United States in the Nazi era, left Germany in 1935 at age twenty-one. He thus completed his doctorate not at Hamburg, where he had been Erwin Panofsky’s student, but at Harvard. Fascinated by American culture, as attested by an unpublished essay of 1935—here translated—comparing America and Europe, Janson adapted quickly to his new academic environment. As scholar, critic, and editor, he applied his formidable energy and organizational skills to initiatives extending well beyond writing the classic survey History of Art.
Although they worked within the emergent Ottoman visual idiom, the court historian Seyyid Lokman (in office 1569–97) and the artist Osman (act. ca. 1565–85) appear to have used Western European models, specifically, Paolo Giovio’s Elogia, when they created the 1579 book of imperial portraits, the Şemā‘ilnāme (Book of Dispositions). Despite the stark visual differences between the two books, they share several key points: an understanding of the portrait as a visual document; Neoplatonic and physiognomic concepts activating the link between visual and verbal portraiture; and a metaphoric understanding of the relation between an original and its impression.
In the early seventeenth-century, the Franciscan professor of philosophy Martin Meurisse developed an international reputation for his use of art in the organization and transmission of knowledge. One of his most innovative creations was an illustrated thesis print engraved in 1615 by Léonard Gaultier that interprets Aristotle’s system of natural philosophy. The broadside juxtaposes image and text to produce a theater of nature, in which characters appear to act out Aristotle’s philosophical concepts. Meurisse’s pedagogical broadside, with its intricate, theatrical iconography, provides evidence of the complex uses of imagery in philosophy education in early modern France.
Henry Raeburn, a major late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British artist, has received insufficient critical scrutiny. His little-known group of portraits of the Fraser family of Reelig is dominated by representations of the adolescent male sons. In the context of this Scottish Highland family’s temporal and geographic dislocation around the British Empire, these portraits were both present and prescient. As a fundamental expectation of portraiture, likeness was the dominant affective category in the lived reality of the British Empire.
In both modern and premodern critical writing, both “East and West,” the brushstroke eventually came to be characterized as a vehicle of personal expression in defiance of the stifling rules of naturalistic representation. By the mid-twentieth century, the image of the bohemian master flinging paint would have been familiar to both Chinese and European art lovers. It does not follow, however, that the seductive rhetoric of the brushstroke has been deconstructed or even understood, as demonstrated by the cultural politics of the brushstroke in debates between and among European, American, and Chinese intellectuals over a period of four centuries.