chapter  II
4 Pages

II.14 Contemplation

ByCHRISTOPHER ALLEN

The representation of the emotions, passions, moti or affetti, as they are variously known, was recognized as one of the most important functions of painting and sculpture from the beginnings of Renaissance art theory, and assumed a particular prominence in the debates of the French Academy of Painting in the second half of the seventeenth century. Recognizing specific emotions in pictures is not always easy, both because there was originally no fixed repertoire of passions and because pictures are not usually labelled. In the case discussed in this chapter, however, we have both repertoire and labels, as well as a theoretical commentary. But contemplation as an emotional category in art remains, as we shall see, somewhat elusive.