The Word Made Visible in the Painted Image

Perspective, Proportion, Witness and Threshold in Italian Renaissance Painting

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Stephen Miller
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge Scholars Publishing
    , January
     158 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This book explores the areas of perspective, proportion, witness and theological threshold in the devotional art of the Italian Renaissance, with particular reference to the painted image of Christ. While the Incarnation, in a very real way, legitimised the idea of the portrayal of God in human form (as Jesus Christ), problems remained as to how this might be achieved and whether it should be restricted to the second person of the Holy Trinity.

This book looks at the creation of pictorial space and the presentation of the image – paying special attention to schemes of perspective, as a way to better describe reality, as well as to considerations of proportion through such geometric methodology as the Golden Section and dynamic root-rectangles (based on certain ‘perfect’ or divine ratios) to balance and harmonise form.

The Word Made Visible in the Painted Image also explores the theological theme of threshold and liminal space, describes how themes such as the Incarnation and Revelation were represented, and looks at the symbolism employed in so doing. It shows how such themes were captured, set in space and communicated in the painted image.

This study is necessarily interdisciplinary, combining the subject areas of art history and theory, theology, biblical study, philosophy, aesthetics, physics, metaphysics, mathematics, geometry, optics, physiology, psychology, and sociology, in greater and lesser degrees. Few books take such an interdisciplinary stance on art, theology, science and related disciplines to this extent.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Stephen Miller studied for his MA in Christianity and the Arts at King’s College London (in collaboration with the National Gallery, London). His research interests focus on the theology of images and the Incarnation, with emphasis on the period of the Italian Renaissance. Formerly a research editor in the City of London, he is a freelance writer and columnist and lives in North London with his wife and two children.


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