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Fåfängans förgänglighet: Allegorin som livs- och lärospegel hos Albertus Pictor
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of the History of Art.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Vanishing Vanity : Allegory as Speculum in Paintings by Albertus Pictor (English)
Abstract [en]

In this dissertation I have accounted for the manner in which Albertus Pictor and his workshop actively used dress codes, gestures, and other formal characteristics in the paintings as markers, with the intention of accentuating and elucidating the communicative messages of the pictures. The research material comprises five motifs in the sequence of paintings signed by Albertus Pictor, or ascribed to his workshop, in 15 churches in the Mälaren region. The primary material consists of 32 paintings, 18 of which are subjected to an in-depth study. The criteria for my selection have been that the motifs should belong to, or touch upon, the category of memento mori motifs.I view the material partly from a semiotic perspective with the starting point in the assumption that communication and cultural phenomena are coded systems in which every coded phenomenon is part of a larger system of signs or contexts.

The method I used was to research readable signs found in dress codes, appearances, and gestures, in order to narrow down, in Albertus Pictor’s imagery, a deliberate use of markers with a communicative aim. Costumes are used to emphasise sex, status, age, wealth, and profession, as well as to convey traits of character, and they receive their meaning at moment when they are worn. Correctly interpreted, costumes can shed light on prevailing societal attitudes. The research material demonstrates clear differences in the dress codes of the figures. Costumes as a pictorial rhetorical device are used as a form of address that is accessible and comprehensible for a large group of viewers. By categorising the dress codes in the workshop’s paintings, one can establish the fact that the choice of costumes, in the motifs that were the subject of an in-depth study, follows a particular pattern with the intention of narrowing down a specific type of man with traits of a nobleman or a knight. The male costume in Albertus Pictor’s Memento mori-motifs possesses an extrovert and communicative function. The choice of clothes, colours, gestures, and facial expressions functions as a rhetorical device in the execution of the image, aiming to communicate a specific message to the viewer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholmia förlag , 2007. , 253 p.
Keyword [en]
Albertus Pictor, medieval clothing, medieval painting, memento mori motifs, gesture, medieval vanity, didactic art
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1404ISBN: 917031-178-1OAI: diva2:190024
Public defence
2007-02-16, hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2007-01-25 Created: 2007-01-23Bibliographically approved

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