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A New Interpretation of Vermeer’s Allegory of Faith: Vividness and Figural Interpretation

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Chapter Summary

Johannes Vermeer's Allegory of Faith draws attention to its nature as a painting by means of the contrasting ways in which the curtain and the scene it reveals are painted: whereas the main scene is painted with fine brush strokes, the curtain is done with rough brush work, which both represents the structure of the cloth of the curtain, and draws attention to the painter's work. The Allegory of Faith is a religious painting. Vividness or enargeia, one of the most important instruments in rhetoric and painting, is utilized to engage the attention of the public, exciting its emotions and rousing it to action. In the context of figural interpretation, two figures of thought are of particular interest: allegory ('saying one thing, while intending something else to be understood'), and a figure which is similar to emphasis, meaning something different from, or contrary to what.

Keywords: Allegory of Faith; Johannes Vermeer; religious painting; vividness



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