By N. Y.) Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York
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Additional info for A Guide to the Wrightsman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art/E0720P
59 Only recently have these features been modiﬁed. 60 As far as the pictorial output commissioned by the Frati Minori is concerned, however, there is still a remarkable readiness to view it, even in its earliest manifestations, as deliberately naturalistic and foreshadowing the illusionistic virtuosity of the late duecento. I suggest instead that the “classical” lucidity of the Franciscan vita panels is construed as a mode of intermittent revelation; one that seeks to disrupt participation and to urge an awareness of the complex conﬁguration of Francis’s image.
16 More often than not the saint appeared to a venerator resembling precisely his or her depiction in an image of which the venerator had had prior experience. As Dagron points out, the icon authenticated the identity of the saint, rather than the saint authenticating his or her pictorial depiction. This trope is so widespread in Byzantium that it is regarded as amounting to a “recipe . . ”17 I contend, however, that the trope functioned in an immeasurably wider capacity, one in which it was transformed into a rigorous hermeneutic that went beyond the question of identity.
With uncharacteristic ruefulness (and, one suspects, a certain disingenuousness), Basil of Caesarea wrote to Gregory of Nyssa, pondering over all that he should have done in order to be a worthy Christian. In the process, he made the following analogy: Καì πανταχοῦ ὥσπερ οἱ ζωγράφοι, ὅταν ἀπό εἰκόνων εἰκόνας γράφωσι, πυκνὰ πρὸς τὸ παράδειγμα ἀποβλέποντες, τὸν ἐκειθεπ χαρακτῆρα πρὸς τὸ ἑαυτῶν σπουδάζουσι μεταθεῖναι φιλοτέχνημα. οὕτω δεῖ καὶ τὸν ἐσπουδακότα ἑαυτὸν πᾶσι τοῖς μέρεσι τῆς ἀρετῆς ἀπεργάσασθαι, τέλειον, οἱονεὶ πρὸς ἄγαλματά τινα κινούμενα καὶ ἒμπρακτα, τοὺς βίους τῶν ἁγίων ἀποβλέπειν, καὶ τὸ ἐκείνων ἀγαθὸν οἰκεῖον ποιεῖσθαι διὰ μιμήσεως.