Patterns of Salvation: Visual Typology in the Low Countries, 1550-1600 Open Access

Groentjes, Mirjam E.W. (2016)

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In the Middle Ages, typology as a means of conveying divine truths dominated the liturgical and hermeneutical sphere. The sixteenth century saw its expansion into the public domain, as well as a significant diversification in its application, particularly in the visual arts. The foundation of typological thought is the idea that God's salvific plan for mankind is reflected in and revealed through his Creation, and can be discerned by studying patterns in the Bible, History and Nature. In this dissertation it is argued that a biblical definition of typology has impeded our understanding of visual typology and an alternative definition is proposed: Typology is an exegetical method that looks for patterns in salvation history as manifestations of the divine will and its purpose for mankind. This dissertation explores the way in which sixteenth-century artists in the Low Countries reexamined typology's interpretative potential to invite their viewer's engagement in a visual hermeneutical process, encouraging both a close reading of the Scriptures, and a reflection of the viewer's own place in salvation history. At the core of the dissertation are selected works of four prominent artists from the Low Countries: Maarten van Heemskerck (Clades Judaeae Gentis print series, 1539), Karel van Mander (Adoration of the Shepherds Surrounded by Six Prophets engraving, 1588, and The Crossing of the River Jordan, a painting from 1604), Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (the Prinsenhof Quartet: Massacre of the Innocents, Monk and a Beguine, Fall of Man, Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, painted 1591-1593) and Marten de Vos (Wedding at Cana altarpiece of 1597, and the Panhuys panel, 1574-1575). These four artists each employed typology to make their arguments in works of art that carried great personal significance to them and reflect the social and political turmoil of the second half of the sixteenth-century in the Low Countries.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Chapter 1. Maarten van Heemskerck: Clades Judaeae Gentis

Chapter 2. Karel van Mander: Adoration of the Shepherds

Chapter 3. Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem: the Prinsenhof Quartet

Chapter 4. Marten de Vos: the Wedding at Cana




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