Call for Papers ‘Head and Body: Evidence of Power in the Ruler Portrait between the 14th and 18th centuries’
Submission deadline 30 April 2017
Conference: Munich, 1-2 December 2017
What meanings do head and body convey in the medieval and early modern ruler portrait? How do its mimetic schemes and visual projections of power relate to each other? How are conceptually abstract norms and values of rulership transposed to categories of looking, how do images of bodies concretize these norms and values, and what modes of representation do they cultivate? Research on the history of portraits has relegated these questions to the margins; we presently lack a systematic analysis. Nevertheless, head and body forged central attributes and categories for physical manifestations of rulership in the Middle Ages and early modern period. The specific conditions of their visual portrayal is therefore of particular interest. Unlike in republican or democratic political systems, where the presence and legitimation of ruling power is supported by an elected government or a constitution, in principalities and monarchies the prince or king himself guaranteed the legitimacy of his own rule. He did this above all else through his physical body, whose visually and haptically experienced presence first lent the necessary evidence for his sovereignty.