Thursday, 9 February 2012

Allegory



An allegorical painting is a description or figurative treatment of one subject, hidden behind the guise of another subject. For example the figures on the canvas may personify states of the mind 
and human emotion, rather than just representing a person. An allegorical image communicates its message to the spectator through symbolic figures, actions and objects; and through other forms of symbolic representation. In essence and allegory is used to convey meaning, idea, principle or a message to its audience. An allegory is therefore a narrative device, for a painting's composition.


Paintings which possessed an allegorical quality to them were popular during the Renaissance.



Cupid complaining to Venus - by Lucas Cranach
National Gallery, London
(1525)
The painting by Lucas Cranach is an example of an allegorical painting. Cupid is complaining to Venus about being stung by honey bees, this is taken to be a moral commentary - presumably the moralising message of this painting is to show restraint and not show greed or be excessive as too much of a good thing can result in pain. As indicated by Cupid being glutinous around honey and the beautiful Venus being shown in nude - as she is often link to sex and fertility, and being prone to the sins of the body (Venus is linked to sexual desire). As the paintings inscription states: 'life's pleasure is mixed with pain.'


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