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Aleksandr Ivanov, Nikolaj Gogol’ und die Erscheinung des Sakralen vor dem Volk

Dirk Uffelmann


Pages 13 - 37



This article investigates the transmedial cooperation between the Russian painter Aleksandr A. Ivanov and the writer Nikolai V. Gogol’, in particular Gogol’s references to Ivanov’s chef d’oeuvre Iavlenie Khrista narodu [The Appearance of Christ before the People]. The main focus is on Gogol’s textual anticipation of Ivanov’s painting, which was completed only after Gogol’s death, in Portret [The Portrait] and Vybrannye mesta iz perepiski z druz’iami [Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends], i.e. the metaleptical relationship inherent in the praise of a picture produced or at least completed later. The argument is made that the ‘secondary medium’ of the literary and epistolary text, which is meant to be supportive of the (process of) painting, becomes a burden for the ‘primary medium’ of art, by imposing a genuinely literary, metonymic discourse on the depiction of the sacred. Implying Catholic and Protestant presuppositions, this metonymic strategy collides with the Orthodox suspicion about art as an adjuvant of religiosity and about the internalisation of religious experience.

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