Mistake or Message?

A few classes ago Dr. Seaman noted that most people will look at these miniatures and say: “God wasn’t it great when artists learned perspective?” Not to lie I thought it. But our reading seems offer other explanations for the strange situation of some images: especially images of the environment and the background (the trees/rivers/hills). In the miniatures from the Pearl MS. the hillside actually shifts, at first it slopes from the lower left corner of the page to the upper right; then the hill shifts and it runs from the upper left to the lower right. It’s inconsistent, but not a mistake. The anthologists postulate that the artists was changing perspective because “the perceptions of the dreamer […] changed” (177). Still the rivers look strange the way they simply chop across the page. But I do notice that the river functions as impassible band, like a break in the image (I’m imagining the way comics and movies depict phone calls: where one caller is separated from another by a jagged band across the screen). Indeed, the anthologists suggest that there is further weight to the rivers: that they are meant to suggest the roundness of the Earth (178). When I read that I had to pause for a moment. They go on to explain that it replicates the shape of the Mandorla which often encircles christ. These rivers look flat and childlike to me, they seem careless almost, but then you read this book and you learn that’s not so. Shockingly there was great attention to detail, despite the painting of fingers.

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