The present article is a chapter from Hans Belting's book 'Bild-Anthropologie' (München 2001). Here, the author embarks at reconstructing a theory of picture/image proposed by Dante in his 'Divina Commedia'. The conversations between Dante and Virgil are clearly indicative of a category-related difference between image and the body: 'image is like a shadow'. Belting analyses in detail the ancient and mediaeval concepts of shadow, soul, persona, proving indispensable for explaining the ontological aspect of Dante's images of death. The second section of the paper shows how artists such as Giotto, Masaccio or Michelangelo attempted at confronting the theory of image proposed by the author of the 'Divina Commedia'. He concludes with stating that the theory of 'painting of shadows', as described earlier, may prove extremely useful for modern theories of image and art, particularly, photography and virtual world.
H. Belting, Academy for Design in Karlsruhe, Bundesrepublik Deutschland
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