Peter Mack (Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick)
This is a very lightly edited text of a lecture given by Prof. Peter Mack to the Seminar for Art History in Basel on 10 December 2014 at the invitation of Prof. Dr Andreas Beyer. It includes material used in lectures in Senate House, University of London, at Hangzhou and at the Warburg Institute. It represents an effort to imagine a future Iconology informed by ideas taken from rhetoric, as a contribution to the Bilderfahrzeuge Project, and can be understood as relating to work by Michael Baxandall, Marc Fumaroli, Heinrich Plett and Caroline van Eck. In writing the lecture Peter Mack acknowleges valuable comments from Paul Hills, Paul Smith and Svetlana Alpers.
Due to the length of the text, the bulk of it has been placed behind a break for ease of reading on this blog. Simply click to keep reading after the first paragraph!
Renaissance rhetoric as a sources of questions about art
I offer you this paper in an interdisciplinary spirit, hoping that my responses to studying my own field of renaissance rhetoric may suggest some ideas which are worth pursuing in relation to the visual arts. I shall begin the paper with some general reflections about rhetoric, then I shall briefly discuss some particular teachings of classical and renaissance rhetoric which may be helpful to people thinking about paintings. I shall spend roughly the second half of the lecture talking about five well-known paintings in the light of some of these ideas. I hope that you will think of this paper as an invitation to read some rhetoric texts and to consider their possible use for your own work.