Les représentations iconographiques du IVe apologue de la légende de Barlaam et Josaphat dans le Moyen Âge italien
Tagliatesta, Francesca (2009) Les représentations iconographiques du IVe apologue de la légende de Barlaam et Josaphat dans le Moyen Âge italien. Arts Asiatiques, 1 (6). pp. 3-26.
The iconographic representations of the fourth apologue of the Barlaam and Josaphat legend in the Italian middle age The legend of Barlaam and Josaphat is a well-known motif within the mediaeval literature and iconography of East and West. The present essay deals with an examination of the 4th apologue of the story and particularly with its iconographical representation in mediaeval art of Italy. After a chronological presentation of the different textual branches by means of which the story has been spread from India (the origin) to Italy, the enquiry goes into details of images-repertory connected to the apologue and elaborated in the time of xiith and xivth centuries. Each representation is displayed in the cultural context in which has been shaped and, if that’s the case, in its relationship with a textual source. Such a thoroughly examination suggested a lot of comparisons and correspondences from which some thematic and formal developments have been studied, including their reasons in adopting a particular feature. The artists engaged in making the images inspired by the apologue have given some interpretations corresponding to particular choices in iconography. Nevertheless, some features are recurrent topics, like the scenes constantly flanking the representations of the apologue and whose intention is to emphasize the moral traits of the story. The man in the well, enchanted by the honey, symbolizes the human addiction to earthly goods and the vacuity of life as well.
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