Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The physicality of Rubens' human bodies : visuality and medicine in early modern Europe
Author: Georgoulia, Aikaterini
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 0030
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis presents new textual and visual source material for our understanding of Rubens’ painted human bodies. It identifies hitherto unexamined socio-cultural contexts, as well as contests and revises scholarly assumptions. I maintain that Rubens’ bodies were informed by early modern scientific practices and medical discourses. The central argument is that Rubens’ understanding of human physicality and the contemporary engagement with basic biological processes converge in his painted bodies. The medical view of the body as a psychosomatic unity – a nexus of material and immaterial properties – opens a new investigative avenue to studies of cultural materialism. The exploration of the enmeshment of materiality and immateriality gives an insight into how and in what ways matter and image acquire meaning. I argue that the immaterial characteristics of the human body are visually integrated in canvas and paper, pigments, oils and chalk. By exploring visual and textual sources, this study proposes a larger methodological framework. It brings together visuality, materiality and textuality, providing a cross-referential reading of text and image, and using both of them as core primary material with an argumentative voice. The analysis of the visual case studies (portraiture, history and religious painting) does not draw on a larger pre-determined and extraneous context, but context is produced by the image. Therefore, I perceive context as multifarious and wide-ranging. My approach responds to the previous lack of a broader study of Rubens’ bodies via a medical perspective. In this way, this thesis ventures into an interdisciplinary dialogue between the art history and the history of medicine. It contributes to larger questions about the early modern body as an explanatory category for these academic disciplines. This study understands the body as a field of force through which the potential, and limitations, of artistic and scientific, celestial and secular authorities were registered, questioned and negotiated.
Supervisor: Van Wyhe, Cordula Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available