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Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg's Atlas of Images$
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Christopher D. Johnson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801477423

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801477423.001.0001

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Ad oculos: Ways of Seeing, Reading, and Collecting

Ad oculos: Ways of Seeing, Reading, and Collecting

(p.43) 2 Ad oculos: Ways of Seeing, Reading, and Collecting
Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg's Atlas of Images

Christopher D. Johnson

Cornell University Press

This chapter engages Ernst Gombrich's essay “Icones symbolicae” and Michael Baxandall's interpretation of Leon Battista Alberti's debts to the rhetorical tradition to examine the iconology of Warburg's early essays in the context of Italian humanism and Dominico Ghirlandaio's Adoration of the Shepherds. It returns to Warburg's concept of the “metaphoric distance” characterizing the manner in which the Adoration's rhetorical qualities, its copia (eloquent abundance) and varietas (variety), help to balance competing forces and themes. It then rehearses Warburg's cardinal notion of the Pathosformel (pathos formula) and finds analogies with E. R. Curtius's notion of literary topoi. The chapter also compares the aims and organization of Warburg's famous Library in Hamburg with those of the Bilderatlas.

Keywords:   Icones symbolicae, rhetorical tradition, iconology, Italian humanism, Adoration of the Shepherds, copia, varietas, metaphoric distance, Pathosformel

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