Artibus et Historiae no. 64 (XXXII)2011, ISSN 0391-9064
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PAOLO ALEI - “As if we were present at the event itself”: the Representation of Violence in Raphael and Titian’s Heroic Painting
By emphasizing the violent confrontation between rushing warriors and a victim fallen to the ground, Raphael’s Expulsion of Heliodorus and Titian’s Death of Saint Peter Martyr respectively, established the paradigm of vivid-dynamic images imbued with rhetorical ornaments, especially enargeia. Such amplification of violence and affective impact directly recall Ciceronian oratory, that eloquent dialectic which Renaissance Rome perfected as a form of imperial propaganda and Venice inherited as a symbol of her new role as Nova Roma. Thus, the most animated and heroic inventions in the œuvre of Raphael and Titian can be analyzed through figures of speech which were recognized as intrinsic to painting already by the contemporary learned viewers.
Through an interdisciplinary study of ancient and early modern visual and verbal metaphors, this essay analyzes the role of enargeia in the representation of vividness and dynamism in those scenes in which the violent action seems to reoccur, according to the promises of the trope itself, before the beholder’s eyes. Raphael and Titian changed the connotation of mimesis from resemblance to existence, from imitation to animation.