Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2009


The relation between seeing, knowledge, and language has concerned philosophers and artists throughout history. The current article examines the relation between word, image, and knowledge in some prominent Renaissance artworks. It is argued that the shift from revelatory truth in the word to evidence in “seeing the real” as Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519) argues in his writings, marks a moment in history in which the human being takes center stage as the interpreter of knowledge. In the search for perfect proportionality and beautiful harmony, Renaissance artists, therefore, did not just create an aesthetic dimension yet were central in a process leading to a reevaluation and alternative modes of knowledge about the human being.

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