Annuntiatio Domini: Metaphoric conceptualization and gesture analysis in painted representations of the Annunciation

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Fabio Indìo Massimo Poppi Peter Kravanja


In this article, we analyze ten artistic paintings of the Annunciation ranging from the XV century to the XX century in order to describe how the interaction between pictorially represented gestures and other pictorial elements allows them to convey more abstract meanings. Applying a historical approach to the gestures expressed by Mary, we show how — despite the different artistic approaches and sensitivities — her hand gestures always have a primary importance in conveying the meanings of PRUDENCE, CAU¬TION, FEAR, SURPRISE, CONCERN and GRATITUDE. We show how such gestures can be related to ordinary linguistic expressions that present analogous meanings. It is thus shown how gestural metaphor may interact with other modalities in pictorial representations.

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Author Biographies

Fabio Indìo Massimo Poppi, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies University of East Anglia (UEA) Norwich

Fabio I. M. Poppi holds a PhD in Linguistics under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Musolff from the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom). His research interests include metaphor, art processing, critical approaches to language and conceptualization, ideology, social cognition and discursive strategies. Many of his projects focus on the relationship between representation and socio-cultural phenomena such as organized crime, political extremism and terrorism.

Peter Kravanja, Department of Literature and Culture KU Leuven Leuven

Peter Kravanja is a Research Fellow in the research unit of Literature and Culture at the Faculty of Arts, at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). Mostly in collaboration with Maarten Coëgnarts, he has investigated the interplay between conceptual metaphors and cinema.