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18 The Smoke of Sacrifice: Anthropomorphism and Figure in Karel van Mallery’s Sacrifice of Cain and Abel for Louis Richeome’s Tableaux Sacrez (1601)

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Chapter Summary

Anthropomorphic rocks, clouds or landscapes appear frequently in Netherlandish art from Hieronymus Bosch to Herri met de Bles, Pieter Bruegel, Jacob de Gheyn or Hendrick Goltzius. Artists have regularly linked these hidden and ambiguous motifs to a reflection on the nature of image or on vision. Karel van Mallery's Sacrifice of Cain and Abel belongs to this category of images. Before describing the anthropomorphic motif present in his engraving-and since interpretation and perception of double and ambiguous images are inextricably linked-it is crucial to recall the context in which the print appears, i.e., Louis Richeome's important treatise dedicated to the Eucharist: Holy Pictures (Tableaux sacrez), and to consider its link with the conception of figure developed by Richeome. The tripartite conception of the picture elaborated in the dedicatory epistle announces Richeome's conception of the threefold figures comprised by the Holy Picture, which Richeome designates in his prologue as 'triple picture'.

Keywords: anthropomorphic figure; Karel van Mallery; Louis Richeome; Sacrifice of Cain and Abel; Tableaux sacrez



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