Leviathan: Body politic as visual strategy in the work of Thomas Hobbes

Front Cover
Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, Aug 24, 2020 - Art - 293 pages

Horst Bredekamp’s subject is the astute deployment and perennial resonance of the startling image of the body politic that dominates the frontispiece to Leviathan: a treatise on the psychology of the individual and the dynamic of the multitude, published in 1651 by the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Affirming the centrality of such a figural device for this pioneering theorist of the state, Bredekamp goes on to address the art-historical dimension of the mesmerising etched title-page. In his central chapters he explores the extraordinary range of sources – from socio-cultural tradition to scientific advances – on which the author and his artist-collaborator may have drawn. In conclusion, he reveals Hobbes to be no less passionate than shrewd in his belief that the constraints and amenities of a tolerable life in common attest to the potency of the visual. As appendices, two essays and catalogues explore the portraits made of Hobbes as well as illustrations that appeared in his other works, thus systematically completing the exploration of the images connected with this exceptional philosopher.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


1 Hobbes his Leviathan its frontispiece
2 The authorship of the Leviathan frontispiece
3 The Artificiall Man
4 Qualities and appearances
5 Mastering time
the CommonWealth as bulwark constraint aspiration
Excerpts from Leviathan
Images and Portraits
Appendix III

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2020)

Horst Bredekamp, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin

Bibliographic information