Organised by the Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Vincent Debiais (CRH-AHLoMA, EHESS/CNRS - Paris) will give a lecture on 'The definition of silence in medieval thought and its visual figuration'. Respondent: Dr Babette Hellemans (RUG). This lecture offers a study of the figuration of silence in medieval images and proposes a broader approach to the intellectual and formal links between silence and visual arts.
Visual recourses to signify silence
Starting from the explicit figurations of the silence that follows the opening of the seventh seal in the Book of Revelation and its visual translation in the manuscripts of the Commentary on the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liebana, the lecture considers the visual recourses deployed by medieval artists in painting, illumination and sculpture to signify the absence of sound or noise.
A sign of the unpronounceable
The perfect expression of God's infinity is an inner experience of silence and light, two images of celestial harmony and its microcosmic reflection in the faithful. Silence becomes a sign of the unpronounceable in medieval images; it also becomes a visual object articulating language and the infinite mystery of God.