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The Birds And Animals Of Carpaccio'S Miles Christianus

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Chapter Summary

The question of the iconographic program and its implications are still a subject of debate. Unraveling the mystery of Carpaccio's painting involves little more than identifying the male subject, who presumably was a military hero and died before 1510, at which time Carpaccio signed and dated his masterpiece on the cartellino at the lower left. This chapter attempts to reassess the question of the painting's iconography, based on the hypothesis that it constitutes, first and foremost, a moral allegory derived from the theological tradition of the miles christianus (Christian Knight) in medieval literature and art, imbued with new connotations under the influence of contemporary religious thought. The relationship between the main allegorical figure and subordinate themes in the landscape is examined and evidence from classical, medieval and Renaissance iconography is presented to demonstrate the integrity and logic of the program.

Keywords: Carpaccio's painting; iconographic program; medieval literature; Miles Christianus; Renaissance iconography



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