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Dissolving the Alps: The Visual Dissemination of Saint George 1400-1550

Barker, Alison (2022) Dissolving the Alps: The Visual Dissemination of Saint George 1400-1550. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Saint George was revered on both sides of the Alps during the Renaissance. This figure, both historical and legendary, was called upon to ‘play’ a number of different roles - including those of saviour, soldier and saint – for audiences across the European continent. My thesis examines how George’s image crossed the important boundary of the Alps and was taken up by both Italian and northern artists. It will focus on England, the German-speaking territories and the Italian peninsula, attempting to ‘dissolve’ the boundary of the Alps through this one case of Saint George, the ‘travelling’ saint. I argue that George’s status as chivalric hero and Christian martyr made him uniquely qualified to cross boundaries in this way, especially through the networks of courts and court culture. It was not only his cult that travelled, but his image in the form of works of art and also artists who then created his image on both sides of the Alps. At the heart of my inquiry is the idea of reception: the question of how the iconography of Saint George’s image could potentially mean something different, depending on where he was represented and who was looking at him. Through four case studies that examine both the roles of one saint and how he was depicted and viewed across boundaries of space and media I will chart a multi-layered cultural network, linking different artists and audiences from both north and south. I will examine a wide range of cultural production – prints, sculptures, mystery plays, paintings and frescoes – produced between the early fifteenth century and the Council of Trent. In each case study I make a claim about Saint George and how he acts and is used by four sections of society – rulers, who hold him up as a ‘Mirror for Princes’; artists who use him as a vehicle for artistic display; corporate groups who find in George a cultural unifier; and the broad masses who revere him as a popular icon. Using the particular image of Saint George to interrogate the issue of transalpine connections has not been attempted as yet and, therefore, I am convinced that it will be a valuable addition to our existing knowledge of artistic patterns of communication and reference.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Saint George, England, Germany, Italy, Visual Depiction, Art, Images
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Alison Barker
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2022 15:14
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2022 15:14

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