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LOOKING THE PART: RUMINATIVE VIEWING AND THE IMAGINATION OF COMMUNITY IN THE EARLY MODERN LOW COUNTRIES

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Abstract:

This essay concerns the visual assertion of corporate identity in Gerard David's Justice of Cambyses (completed 1498). This painting is significant in three respects. First, unlike contemporaneous Flemish treatments of the subject, David's diptych presents judicial practice as earthly rather than spiritual in nature. Second, it privileges the distinction between individuals and the groups they form. Third, it treats Flanders in general and Bruges in particular as the ideal just society. In so doing, David's painting breaks markedly with tradition, positing not only the fact but also the social character of justice. What is more, it does so by defining that character as specifically Flemish, thus articulating a nascent if complex sense of regional identity.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8365.2007.00581.x

Affiliations: Indiana University, Bloomington

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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