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In this essay, I analyze three sixteenth-century Netherlandish paintings of New Testament miraculous healings in the context of the contemporary understanding of miracles and approaches to disability. I argue that, in contrast to the negative perception of the infirm in the early modern literature, the images promote care for the sick as a Christian duty. Given the complicated theological status of miracles ca. 1600, scriptural healings begin to function primarily as exempla of mercy rather than as promises of supernatural intervention. In the discussed compositions, biblical stories become a model for sixteenth-century viewers through the rhetorical use of architectural backdrops, which replicate a strategy employed in the vernacular theatre and urban festivals. Finally, I show that this connection between miraculous healings and mercy is also established in the iconography of visiting the sick, in which broadly defined medical care is introduced as a manifestation of charity.

In: Explorations in Renaissance Culture
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
In: Pieter Bruegel the Elder