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Title: Visual theology in 14th and 15th century Florentine frescoes : a theological approach to historical images, sacred spaces, and the modern viewer
Author: Reddaway, Chloe
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Although Christianity is a ’religion of the book’, visual art has played a crucial role in the history of theological communication, and the premise of this thesis is that historical images are a potentially rich, but underused, theological resource for modern Christians. Art historical analyses are rarely intended or equipped to demonstrate the rich theological potential of attentive interaction between the modern viewer and historical images, and do not take account of the fundamentally incarnational nature of Christian images. There have been, however, relatively few attempts at theological interpretation of historical Christian images and minimal discussion of an appropriate methodology for doing so, despite increased interest in the relationship between theology and visual art. This thesis proposes a methodology for the theological interpretation of images, drawing on critical hermeneutics in theology and literary studies, the approaches of reader criticism, reception theory, and cultural history, the insights of art historical analysis, and a Christian understanding of religious art and sacred place. It demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach through case studies drawn from Florentine fresco cycles of the 14th and 15th centuries, enriching the experience of the modern viewer. In particular it addresses the materiality of images and the relationship between the space within images, the spaces of their locations, and their interaction with the spatially located viewer. The images are shown to be sophisticated pieces of visual theology with the capacity to express complex theological ideas of creation, incarnation, transformation and revelation, in powerfully engaging ways. They present a redeemed, post-resurrection view of creation in which materiality does not, or need not, equate to separation from God; an anti-dualist confession of faith in which content and composition, content and medium, concept and form, image and viewer, interpenetrate to enable material revelation of the divine, with potentially transformative effects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available