Journal of Art Historiography (Dec 2009)

Linguistic Theories and Intellectual History in Michael Baxandall’s Giotto and the Orators

  • Allan Langdale

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 1
pp. 1 – AL/2


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This essay examines some theoretical and methodological aspects of Michael Baxandall’s book Giotto and the Orators. Humanist observers of painting in Italy and the discovery of pictorial composition of 1971. It includes reflections on the book’s reorientations of the scholarly debate over the relationship between Renaissance/Early Modern humanism and painting, as well as consideration of the linguistic theories that either directly or tangentially inform Baxandall’s method. Sources such as Wittgenstein, Cassirer, Ordinary Language Philosophy, and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis are discussed. Some of the book’s aims and methods are clarified by a comparison to Panofsky’s Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism of 1951.