Images should respect the size, silhouette and colours of the depicted person
Year mention: 1617
Jesus Christ ; Saints
Visual tradition/Artistic model vs. written tradition/history

Artists should respect in their images the size, the harmony of the silhouette, and the colour of that person, similar to what the ancients did

Molanus, Johannes
Frostispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Frontispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek — Th H 1475. Digital Reproduction: München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2015.

Molanus argues that painters should follow the ancients and depict persons true to the harmony of their silhouette, size, and colour.

“When it comes to executing an image of a person, one should, as much as possible, respect in that image the size as well as the harmony of the silhouette and of the colours of that person. It would not be so important to proceed in this way if it were not for the fact that the ancients were very careful in this respect, and that they certainly wanted the saints to appear under the aspect in which we are generally accustomed to representing them. Athanasius the Great says that in Beirut they worshipped an image of Our Lord Jesus Christ that showed him standing.”

“Porro in formandis humanis Imaginibus illud observandum est, ut Imago ipsa staturam et lineamentorum colorumque proportionem hominis cuius Imago est, quantum fieri potest, referat. Quae res non videretur tanti facienda esse, nisi constaret veteres hac in parte solicitos fuisse: imo et ipsos Sanctos in ea specie apparere voluisse, qua passim pingi solent. Certe magnus ille Athanasius dicit Imaginem Domini nostri Iesu Christi in Beryto sane venerandam fuisse, quod integram Christi Domini proportionem exprimebat.”

Model to follow

Anathanius the Great, De passionis imaginis Christi.

Date mention

Historical Location

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 56, 190

Molanus 1996, 286.

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