Ut pictura amor

The Reflexive Imagery of Love in Artistic Theory and Practice, 1500-1700


Ut pictura amor: The Reflexive Imagery of Love in Artistic Theory and Practice, 1500-1700 examines the related themes of lovemaking and image-making in the visual arts of Europe, China, Japan, and Persia. The term ‘reflexive’ is here used to refer to images that invite reflection not only on their form, function, and meaning, but also on their genesis and mode of production. Early modern artists often fashioned reflexive images and effigies of this kind, that appraise love by exploring the lineaments of the pictorial or sculptural image, and complementarily, appraise the pictorial or sculptural image by exploring the nature of love. Hence the book’s epigraph— ut pictura amor—‘as is a picture, so is love’.

Prices from (excl. VAT):

Add to Cart
Walter Melion is Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, and Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published extensively on Dutch and Flemish art and art theory of the 16th and 17th centuries, on Jesuit image-theory, on the relation between theology and aesthetics in the early modern period, and on the artist Hendrick Goltzius.

Joanna Woodall teaches at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She has a longstanding interest portraiture, and hence the relationship between realism and desire. Her publications include studies of the importance of love and friendship to the creation of works of art, and to conceptions of art, in the early modern Netherlands.

Michael Zell is Associate Professor of Art History at Boston University. He has published widely on seventeenth-century Dutch artistic culture, with a particular focus on Rembrandt and Vermeer, religious imagery, gift giving, and the poetics of painting.

“extremely stimulating […] Ut pictura amor delivers a richly rewarding, interdisciplinary look at the different ways love was understood and visualized in the early modern period.” - Jeffrey Chipps Smith, University of Texas at Austin, in: Jounal of Jesuit Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2018), pp. 324-326 [DOI: 10.1163/22141332-00502005-13]
“Meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated and with a thematic coherence rarely found in edited volumes, this volume presents its central argument with flair and erudition. Although at over 750 pages it is not for the faint- hearted, the consistently high standard of the contributions provides a compelling insight into the relationship between art and love, and the complexity of the affective viewing experience, in early modern northern art.” - Lisa Beaven, La Trobe University, in: Emotions, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2018), pp. 352-354
Introduction: Picturing Love and Artifice
Walter S. Melion, Joanna Woodall, and Michael Zell

Vision, Imagination, and Erotic Desire
1 Figments of the Imagination: Medical and Moral Discourses on Love in the Counter-Reformation
Wietse de Boer
2 The Gods of Water – Baths, Country Houses and Their Decoration in Sixteenth-and Seventeenth-Century Flanders
Ursula Härting
3 Hishikawa Moronobu and the Imprinting of ‘Love’ in Early Modern Japan
Joshua S. Mostow
4 Chinese ‘Paintings of Beautiful Women’ and Images of Asia in a Jesuit Text
Dawn Odell

Metamorphic Imagery of Love
1 Enacting the Erotic Body: Pictorial and Spectatorial Evocations of Corporeality Among Jan Gossaert and His Patrons
Haohao Lu
2 The Trope of Anthropomorphosis in Hendrick Goltzius’s Venus and Cupid (1590), Venus, Bacchus, and Ceres (1593), and Portrait of Frederick de Vries (1597)
Walter S. Melion

Optics, Aesthetics, and the Visual Poetics of Desire
1 Between the Human and the Divine: The Majālis al-ushshāq and the Materiality of Love in Early Safavid Art
Kishwar Rizvi
2 The Painting Looks Back: Reciprocal Desire in the Seventeenth Century
Thijs Weststeijn

Amorous Desire, Domestic Virtue, and Love’s Mirror
1 Agape, Caritas, and Conjugal Love in Paintings by Rembrandt and Van Dyck
Stephanie S. Dickey
2 Vermeer’s Milkmaid in the Discourse of Love
H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr.
3 The Mirror as Rival: Metsu, Mimesis, and Amor in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting
Michael Zell

Portrayals of Spousal Love
1 What’s Love Got to Do with It? Unlacing the Love Knots in Margaret of Austria’s Royal Monastery at Brou
Laura D. Gelfand
2 Rubens, Rembrandt and the Spousal Model/Muse
H. Perry Chapman

Youth, Friendship, and Other Inflections of Divine Love
1 The Dynamics of Divine Love: Francis De Sales’s Picturing of the Biblical Mystery of the Visitation
Joseph F. Chorpenning
2 Intimacy and Longing: Jacob Cornelisz Van Oostsanen and the Distance of Love
Henry Luttikhuizen
3 Amor Dei in Emblems for Dutch Youth
Els Stronks

Desire, Fellowship, and Marian Mimesis
1 Marten de Vos and the Virgin Mary: Love, Mimesis and Music
Margit Thøfner
2 Bernardo Accolti, Raphael, and the Sistine Madonna: The Poetics of Desire and Pictorial Generation
Jonathan Unglaub

Picturing Love in the Marketplace
1 For Love and Money: The Circulation of Value and Desire in Abraham Ortelius’s
Album Amicorum
Joanna Woodall
2 Frans Francken the Younger’s Discovery of Achilles: Desire, Deception, and Inalienable Possession
Lisa Rosenthal
3 Desire by Candlelight: Body and Coin in Gerrit van Honthorst’s Old Woman With Coins
Natasha Seaman

Art historians, book historians, literary historians, religious historians, and comparatists. Humanities scholars interested in the early modern period.