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

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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.

 

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Contents

1 Hobbes his Leviathan its frontispiece
1
2 The authorship of the Leviathan frontispiece
23
3 The Artificiall Man
45
4 Qualities and appearances
61
5 Mastering time
83
the CommonWealth as bulwark constraint aspiration
101
Excerpts from Leviathan
113
Images and Portraits
121
Appendix III
239
Copyright

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About the author (2020)

Horst Bredekamp, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin

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