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Image and MythA History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art$
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Luca Giuliani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226297651

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226025902.001.0001

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Looking Back

Looking Back

Pitfalls and Nodes

(p.243) Chapter 8 Looking Back
Image and Myth

Luca Giuliani

, Joseph O’Donnell
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the systematical categorization of paintings on the basis of their subject matter. The more highly valued category addressed themes such as biblical stories, classical mythology, the lives of the saints, and secular history, while all other subject matter was consigned to a second and clearly subordinate category. In eighteenth-century France these two types became known as peinture d'histore and peinture de genre, respectively. The concept of “genre,” which initially referred to still life, landscapes, and portraits, subsequently became more narrowly specified. “Genre painting is devoted to the depiction of normal life as opposed to the depiction of religious, heroic, and other elevated moments, which constitute the subject of historical painting,” as an early definition puts it. This distinction thus draws a clear boundary between normal, everyday life and the elevated sphere of history.

Keywords:   paintings, subject matter, peinture d'histore, peinture de genre, genre painting, historical painting

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