Navigation – Plan du site
Archéologie, Terre, Histoire, Sociétés - ARTEHIS
Recherche active

Thomas Aquinas’ definition of the imago Dei and the development of lifelike portraiture 1

Dominic Olariu

Résumés

Le présent article examine l’arrière-plan philosophique entourant les premières représentations ressemblantes de l’homme au xiiie siècle en prêtant une attention particulière au concept d’« image de Dieu » (imago Dei), dont Thomas d’Aquin renouvelle en profondeur la définition traditionnelle. Il revient en effet au théologien médiéval d’avoir souligné l’étroite solidarité entre l’âme et le corps, ainsi que l’aptitude de la première à modeler le second. La démonstration proposée ici se fonde sur les passages de l’œuvre thomiste éclairant cette thèse. Elle prend appui notamment sur les pratiques en usage à l’époque, les rituels et les légendes hagiographiques afin de mieux examiner les idées thomistes en dehors du cadre strict de la philosophie et de la théorie. L’apparition miraculeuse des stigmates de saint François d’Assise fournit à cet égard un exemple intéressant. Du fait de l’importance nouvelle accordée à la corporéité humaine, les corps des personnes vertueuses se trouvent alors jugés dignes d’être représentés : les portraitures ressemblantes du xiiie siècle sont destinées à rendre visibles les qualités non ordinaires des représentés. Pour cette raison, les premiers artefacts saisissent les portraiturés dans l’instant le plus décisif de leur existence terrestre, c’est-à-dire juste après leur mort, lorsque le corps échappe à l’influence de l’âme et en constitue pour ainsi dire la relique.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1  I would like to thank Jennifer Marie Cabral Poejo for translating this article into English.
  • 2  Incidentally, lifelike portrayals of individuals have existed in Ancient Times, but during the Mid (...)
  • 3  These questions and the development of the lifelike portrayal of man in 13th century have been ana (...)

1Some aspects of Scholastic philosophy are of great interest when examining the development of the pre-Renaissance portrait. It is essential to underline that Renaissance portraits are, to some extent, very different to anterior portrayals, despite the qualities commonly shared. If the realistic portrayals of man – those that are lifelike or naturalistic, should one prefer these terms – appeared as early as in the 13th century, a significant change in their function occurred throughout the proceeding centuries 2. Without getting into detail of the so-called Renaissance portraiture, it will suffice to note that the first portrayals were more deeply rooted in religion than in the following centuries. These images work with such zeal for detail and convincingly imitate the visible reality, making it possible to call them « portraits ». Nonetheless, the definition of the word « portrait » itself poses problems : should only the depiction of real life be called a portrait ? Or is the term equally valid for an idealized representation ? Can the word be referred to a bust portrayal ? Or can any depiction showing the portrayal’s subject, such as a group of people, also be valid ? Can the depiction of a person’s remains be defined as a portrait 3 ? A consistent definition is obviously not possible. For convenience, I will use in this study the word « pourtraiture » to denote a lifelike reproduction of a person’s exterior in the 13th and 14th century and to underline its difference to the portraits of the Renaissance.

  • 4  For these gisants, see for instance J. Gardner, The Tomb and the Tiara. Curial Tomb Sculpture in R (...)
  • 5  The bibliography for Enrico Scrovegni is very rich. I only cite the most recent : E. Castelnuovo, (...)

2Using a few examples of the earliest pourtraitures, a large part of the gisants from mid 13th century and on were faithful reproductions of the deceased. One could cite the tomb sculptures of high ecclesiastic dignitaries, such as popes Clement IV († 1268), Boniface VIII († 1303) and Clement VI († 1352) 4. Moreover, the representations of Enrico Scrovegni († 1336) should also be considered as pourtraitures, given the mutual resemblances of the three images created for the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua 5.

3Apart from their naturalistic aspect, these pourtraitures also have another feature in common ; they represent remarkable people who were, in the eyes of their contemporaries, exemplary for their exceptional virtue. Virtue, moreover, appears to have been the very reason for the creation of their images. Nevertheless, considering the novelty of this realistic facture of the 13th century’s pourtraitures, it is important to examine the reasons for such a quality. At this point, artifacts and Scholastic thought converge. In other words, one could consider 13th century philosophy as the theoretical basis and precondition for introducing likeness in the field of visual arts.

  • 6  E. Panofsky, Idea. Ein Beitrag zur Begriffsgeschichte der älteren Kunsttheorie, Berlin7, 1993 (192 (...)
  • 7  O. Pächt, « Early Italian Nature Studies and the Early Calendar Landscape », Journal of the Warbur (...)

4In this context, it should be mentioned that animal and herb representations at this period begin to depict what has been directly observed in nature. Erwin Panofsky has analyzed – in philosophical terms – the problem of nature’s imitation through his fundamental « Idea » essay. Scholars have since argued that Scholasticism is not interested in naturalism 6. Although, starting with Otto Pächt’s essay on « Nature Studies », there have been several investigations showing that the « study of the individual appearance of the external world » must have appeared and been practiced in the 13th century 7.

  • 8  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, (parts Ia, Ia-IIae, IIa-IIae, written between 1265 and 1268 ; pa (...)

5This study attempts to show how introducing a new definition of the « image of God » (imago Dei) in the Scholastic period, allows the human body to be seen in much more intimate reciprocity with the soul than previously, as a body/soul unit. An effect of this indivisible unity is the body being interpreted as an expression of the soul and vice versa. In the last third of the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas affirmed accordingly that : « the soul stands in relation to the body not only as its form and end, but also as efficient cause. For the soul is compared to the body, as art to the thing made by art 8 ». The direct consequence of this theoretical system is crucial : the virtue of the soul must manifest itself within the body. The body – and hence its appearance – is apprehended as a manifestation of a person’s virtue, permitting the realization of pourtraitures.

The philosophical concept of the imago Dei in Scholasticism

  • 9  For the imago Dei, in particular in Scholasticism, see L. Scheffczyk, « Die Frage nach der Gottebe (...)
  • 10  On the substance of the Latin phrase, see L. Hödl, « Zur Entwicklung der frühscholastischen Lehre (...)
  • 11  In fact, angels also share this ability with God, but this has no importance within this study.

6The study and philosophy of man in the 13th century was an image-based theology, whereby man was defined according to his relationship with God 9. The concept of « image of God » in man is deeply rooted in the Bible. The Vulgate renders the passage in question (Gen 1, 26-27) with the words : « et ait, Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similtudinem nostrum… », « And God said : We will make man in our image according to our likeness » 10. The image of God in man is used as a metaphor to express the idea that only man, among God’s creatures, shares with him the ability to think 11. The human soul is defined as imago Dei – in other words – as an image of God, created as a likeness albeit imperfect of God. Nevertheless, the soul benefits from the ability to complete this likeness to the deity by adopting a righteous attitude.

  • 12  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a. 6, ad 4 : « ipsa imaginaria visio, quae (...)
  • 13  É. Gilson, Le thomisme. Introduction à la philosophie de saint Thomas d’Aquin, Paris, 19976 (1st e (...)

7To be more exact (according to Scholasticism) it is the ability to think which is equivalent to the image of God in man. It is situated within the human soul and is, more precisely, the supreme part 12. The ability to think, that is to say human intelligence, is simultaneously the part most resemblant to God. « It is because man is intelligent and because God is intelligent, that man is made in the image of God 13. » As part of the soul most similar to God, and given that the soul’s ultimate goal (according to medieval theology) is to conform in paradise with maximal capacity to God, the image of God can influence all other parts of the soul depending on its own state. The changes that this superior part undergoes are therefore transmitted to all of the human soul. Meditating and thinking of God will conform the imago Dei of medieval man to God, while not contemplating will substantially distance the imago Dei from God.

  • 14  The influence of Thomasian dogma has been borne out by several events in religious history. In yea (...)
  • 15  W. Seibel, « Der Mensch als Gottes übernatürliches Ebenbild und der Urstand », in J. Feiner and M. (...)
  • 16  See for instance P. Faure, « Corps de l’homme et corps du Christ : l’iconographie de la stigmatisa (...)
  • 17  Bonaventure of Bangoregio, Legenda maior, in Legendae S. Francisci Assisiensis saeculis XIII et XI (...)

8In this context, it is particularly important to emphasize that the soul has, in turn, an influence on the body in which it is located. In this regard, the theories of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) can be studied as examples of Scholastic thought. More precisely, Aquinas was one of its most significant representatives. His contemporary importance is attested by the worship that the Church gradually reinforced after his death, and by the influence his theories had made on the theological dogma of the West 14. The paradigmatic and illustrative role of Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts for the Scholastic philosophy within this article must therefore be stressed out. However, the analogy of Aquinas’ ideas to those of other Scholastic theorists should be underlined in the same breath. The philosophy of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, for instance, expresses analogical ideas that may be found in his own descriptions of the human being’s imago Dei. Hence the imago Dei has been called in a general way « the fundamental topic of Christian anthropology » 15. The soul’s influence on the body in Bonaventure’s writings may be best recognized in his biographies of Saint Francis of Assisi. The Legenda maior, written by Bonaventure in 1261, officially replaced from 1266 on the older ones by Thomas Celano 16. In doing so it stressed out, much more than did the biographies by Celano, the soul’s influence on the human body. The stigmata of the saint are, according to Bonaventure, produced by the « burning of his love » (« amoris incendium »), by the « burning of his thinking » (« incendium mentis ») and by his « vehement imagination » (« vehemens imaginatio »17. The stigmata are therefore caused by activities, according to Bonaventure’s and Scholastic thinking in general, emanating from the soul und thus underline the impact of the soul on the body.

The human condition as a body and soul unity

  • 18  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 75, a. 4, resp. : « Manifestum est quod homo no (...)
  • 19  T. de Koninck, « Foreword », in M. A. Smith, Human Dignity and the Common Good in the Aristotelian (...)

9In his definition of the unit body/soul, Thomas carefully emphasizes the body’s and soul’s essential correlation in man. In order to assimilate itself to God, the soul relies on the body to enrich its knowledge of the creator and depends on the senses of the human organism. « […] man is not only a soul, but something composed of soul and body […] a body that is destined to serve the soul, and is most perfect among all others […] 18. » Hence, (in Aquinas) no absolute separation of body and soul exists. Thomas de Koninck sees this union of body and soul as the fundamental reason for the bodily condition of man. « Any crudely dualistic view entails that the human body would enjoy no special dignity, taking on, in fact, the guise of an encumbrance to the soul – as if the soul were to be better without it 19. »

  • 20  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 77, a. 7, ad 3 : « sicut imperfectum a perfecto (...)
  • 21  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., IIIa, suppl., q. 70, a. 1, resp. : « potentiae sensiti (...)
  • 22  Dante, Divine Comedy, “Purgatory”, 25, 100-102 : « Però che quindi ha poscia sua paruta, / è chiam (...)

10According to Saint Thomas, human corporeality is pre-contained in the soul. This is the only way of explaining the body’s ability to inform the intellect : the senses derive from reason « as the imperfect from the perfect » and all sensitive faculties relate to the faculty of thought « as to their principle » 20. When body and soul separate in death, the faculties of vegetative and sensitive life cease with the body. Yet, there is no doubt that these abilities continue to exist in the soul. « […] the sensitive and other like powers, do not remain in the separated soul, except in a restricted sense, namely radically […] there remains in the separated soul, the ability to produce these powers should it be reunited to the body [after the resurrection, author’s note] 21. » The soul is therefore the essential principle for sensitive faculties. These thoughts are of such importance to contemporary doctrine that they can, for instance, be easily found in Dante. Addressing himself to Dante in the Divine Comedy, Stace explains this ability of the soul in the following way : « A shade we call it, since the insubstantial soul / is visible this way, which from the same air forms / organs for each sense, even that of sight 22. »

11This property of the human soul makes it unique, able to meet the huge disparity between the corporeal and the incorporeal.

  • 23  P. E. Zoffoli, C. P. : « La dignità del corpo umano… », op. cit., p. 83 : « Si tratta di una “medi (...)

12« This is a “mediation” through which the “corporeal”, with all its active faculties, is found in man as sublimated and spiritualized. This mediation enables the interdependence between body and soul, basing the reciprocity between the intellect and the senses by which one can immediately influence the other, as instantaneously as in the union between matter and form 23. »

The human body as a trace and reference to the imago Dei

13The emphasis made on the interdependence between body and soul (in Thomas Aquinas) should show that the image of God affects the body. For not only does the body affect the soul, for instance by transmitting the sensations perceived by the sensitive faculties, but the soul acts on the flesh. Thomas (in article 6 of the 93rd question of the first book of Summa Theologiae) retorts to the objection that the human body is an image of God. In his reply, he emphasizes that the body itself cannot be an image of God, but that the human body as a trace exhibits the image of God, which is located in the soul.

  • 24  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a. 6, ad 3.

14« Quod tamen non est sic intelligendum, quasi in corpora hominis sit imago Dei ; sed quia ipsa figura humani corporis repraesentat imaginem Dei in anima, per modum vestigii » ; « But this is not to be understood as though the image of God were in man’s body, but in the sense that the very shape of the human body represents the image of God in the soul by way of a trace 24. »

  • 25  However, the trace is a reference to God more dissimilar than the image of God and refers to all c (...)

15This statement alone is astonishing. The image and the trace are indeed direct references to the divine cause according to the idea that the creature bears the mark of the creator 25. The Aquinate introduces a new kind of trace : the human body is understood as a reference relating firstly to the image of God of the soul, and secondly therein to God the Creator. In this perspective, the human body’s quality of being a trace of the imago Dei is particularly interesting. Given that the image of God undergoes changes in relation to the extent of its likeness to God, it follows that a person’s physical appearance must somehow match this spiritual conformation. This influence on the body, or even its corporal aspect, causes a growth in the body’s dignity and that of the person in question.

  • 26  K. Krämer, Imago Trinitatis…, op. cit., p. 317 sq.

16« It is really the image of God in the soul which the body reflects ‘per modum vestigii’. As a consequence, it’s possible to read on the human body what is in reality in the soul. It is all the more surprising, that a new variation of resemblance through a trace occurs at this point. God himself is not the reference point for the trace, but rather the image of God within the soul – which expresses itself [in the body, author’s note] – due to its trace resemblance with the latter. As a matter of the fact, the image of God within the soul can serve the purpose of being an intermediary in its configuration to God. In other words, the “secondary” reference acquired within the body, reflects the resemblance to God through the intermediary of the image of God in the soul. No intermediaries, other than the image of God, exist between man’s exterior reality and the divine qualities […] Being the “forma corporis”, the soul expresses characteristics of its resemblance to God through its exterior reality of the body 26. »

  • 27  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum Magistri Petri Lombardi (also called Scriptum super Sentent (...)

17Thomas Aquinas’ findings derive from a logical consistency within his thoughts. Since a person’s image of God is – according to the merits of the latter – susceptible to change in approach to the creator – what Thomas calls « imago recreationis » – and the soul (prone to the imago Dei) is modified by such an approach, the inevitable consequence is that the soul (as a « forma corporis ») will transmit this modification to the body 27.

  • 28  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., IV Sent., d. 49, q. 4, a. 5, sol. 2.
  • 29  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 12, a. 3, ad 2 : « Quod autem statim, visis cor (...)
  • 30  L.-M. de Blignières, « La dignité de l’homme image de Dieu selon saint Thomas d’Aquin », in Antrop (...)

18In Thomas Aquinas, this reasoning is rigorous in its application explains the state of the exalted bodies. The human body is exalted and honoured in paradise, not by a direct divine influence, but by an overflow of the grace received in the soul. That is to say that the soul transmits its completion to the body following its principle of « forma corporis ». « […] beatitudo vel gloria primo et principaliter est in mente, sed per quamdam redundantiam derivatur etiam ad corpus […] » ; « Beauty and glory are first to be found in the spirit, but on account of a certain overflow, they’re also diverted to the body… » 28. The soul unites with the Creator in a beatified vision – Thomas calls this « imago similitudinis » – and manifests its state in light of its resurrected body, so that it can be recognized as such by the mere sight of the exalted flesh 29. The body of man, therefore, acts as a trace of the imago Dei, expressing the soul’s disposition according to its likeness with the creator. In paradise, the exalted body thereby manifests itself into an instant effect of the glorified state of its soul. « We consider that even the glorified body must be understood as being a trace. However in glory, the reference of intelligence to the divine presence is an instant inference 30. »

19We acknowledge the purpose of the human flesh since its creation : the absolute submission to the spirit, to the point of being withdrawn from material qualities by free will. The body and soul (discussed by Scholasticism) are almost at parity. In other words, Scholastic thought clearly accepts the soul’s influence on the body.

  • 31  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 95, a. 1, resp. : « erat enim haec rectitudo se (...)
  • 32  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 94, a. 2, resp. : « anima enim hominis in statu (...)

20This interpretation of the body, under the influence of the soul, also manifests itself in the description of the first human beings’ state. The only destiny of the human body, since its first creation in Adam, is to serve and subordinate to the soul. The first condition of the Garden of Eden is described as where the body acts by means of its organs, in accordance with reason, and under the latter’s complete influence : « […] this rectitude consisted in his reason being subject to God, the lower powers to reason, and the body to the soul 31 ». At this point, the body is entirely under the influence of the soul and does not divert from the meditation of God. « For man’s soul, in the state of innocence, was adapted to perfect and govern the body […] But he was endowed with integrity as to this life, in that the body was entirely subject to the soul, in no way hindering it 32. »

  • 33  Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles (written between 1261 and 1264 ; abbreviated below, as usual (...)

21The essential point in the original state is that human reason directs all its capacities to God and that the body follows the soul in absolute submission. The effect of spirit over body is thus perfect and direct. In original sin, the dependence of the soul’s physics is further expressed. The intentional diversion from the reason of God will impose the body to lose its perfect condition and refuse submission to the spirit : « When the soul, then, outside the order of its nature, is turned away from God, that disposition was lost which had been divinely bestowed on the soul’s body to make it proportionally responsive to the soul 33. »

22These reasonings, relating to the soul’s effect on the body, arise from the Scholastic definition of the image : in no case should the notion of imago Dei be attributed to anything other than human reason, even in the case of exalted bodies. The rigorous distinction between the image and the trace should be respected, even in regard to the bodies and souls in paradise, so as to not compromise the logic of the definition of the imago Dei. The concept of the soul affecting the body thus manifests itself even more as an essential part of Scholastic thought.

The new definition of the image by Thomas Aquinas

23In this instance, the new elements of Thomas’ definition of the image should be clarified. Traditionally, the definition of the image contained three main elements. Since Saint Augustine (354-430), an image has to be a likeness of a special quality : That is, an image must always generate from its model. Using an example of Saint Augustine, an egg isn’t the image of another egg, in spite of their evident resemblance, because one hasn’t been produced by copying the other. Every image is therefore part of a dependent relation to its model, in such a way that a certain order is respected. Not only must the exemplar precede the image, but there must also be an originating relation (« origo ») between the image and its exemplar.

  • 34  D. J. Merriell, To the Image of the Trinity, op. cit., p. 45, referring to I Sent., d. 28, q. 2, a (...)
  • 35  For the « species », see D. J. Merriell, To the Image of the Trinity, op. cit., p. 45 and Thomas A (...)
  • 36  U. Eco, Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, New Haven/London, 1986 (1959 in Italian), p. 74. Aquina (...)
  • 37  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 35, a. 1, resp. : « Unde, si depingatur color a (...)

24For the image, equality to the model isn’t necessary ; the image rather approaches equality to its model. Thomas explains that an identity isn’t a requirement for an image, but there must be some imitation. However, any kind of imitation isn’t able to constitute the dependency link between the image and its model. For instance, a white shirt is to a white sheet of paper an imitation with regard to the color, but the latter cannot be called an image of the other. In consequence, an image cannot be an imitation of any arbitrary quality. Thomas comes to the conclusion that for a true image, only a similitude of the exemplar’s species, or at least of some specific sign of its species, is necessary. In this understanding « species does not concern the external parts of a thing, but rather the internal quiddity 34 ». This interpretation of the Latin word « species » establishes the basis of the new definition of image by Aquinas in terms of an imitation relation. The imitation relation is found on the exemplar’s species, in the sense that the image possesses a certain characteristic quality of the exemplar 35. As far as human beings are concerned, human intelligence is in fact the quality that makes it an image of God. However, the distinctive sign is different for different creatures. Without getting into the details of the definition of « species » of different creatures, it suffices to say that Thomas is very clear and precise on the subject of images copying material things : images reproduce their shape (« figura ») since it’s the most conspicuous feature of material species. By comparing the different passages where Thomas mentions the shape (« figura »), it is possible to comprehend what Aquinas means : « a quality of the fourth species, the quantitative boundary of a body, its tridimensional contour 36 ». The image of a material thing is thus the imitation of its shape, for instance in a sculpture, painting or on a coin 37.

25Citing Thomas directly,

  • 38  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent. d. 16, q. 1, a. 1, sol. : « imago prop (...)

« We call image what refers to the imitation of another. However, the concept of a true image cannot be reached by any kind of imitation ; since when this over here is white and this over there is white we don’t call one the image of the other. For a true image we need imitation of something expressing its species or quiddity. This is why Hilary [of Poitiers, author’s note] speaks of non different species. For this reason we can best make images of material things by reproducing their shape, because the shape is like a certain sign showing the unity or difference between two species. This imitation can be made in two ways […] secondly, regarding only the specific sign of a species and not the entirety of the species, in the same way as a sculpture is the image of a human 38. »

26Concerning this « specific sign of the species », Aquinas introduces a new element. The traditional definition of image, as expressed in Hilary of Poitiers, has postulated identity (« species indifferens ») between the image and the exemplar, at least in the specific quality of the latter. However, Aquinas restructures this definition by broadening the meaning of the word « indifferens » :

  • 39  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a.1, ad 3 : « cum unum sit ens indivisum, e (...)

« As unity means absence of division, a (http://www.newadvent.org/​cathen/​14210a.htm) is said to be the same (« indifferens ») as far as it is one. Now a thing is said to be one not only numerically, specifically, or generically, but also according to a certain analogy or proportion. In this sense a creature is one with God, or like Him 39. »

27This enlargement of the significance of « indifferens » is the real new feature in Aquinas’ definition of the image. According to him, something can be called « indifferens » (non different) if there is only an analogical or proportional relation between it and its exemplar. In this view, it is possible to see the human being as « non different » to God if only he shares his specific quality with God. Since the human being shares indeed the faculty of thinking with God, Aquinas’ new definition sets a real paradox : he states that man is « non different » to God, on the basis of the analogy between the human and the divine thinking, but at the same time infinitely different to God, since the divine thinking is infinitely purer and more powerful than human intelligence. The new definition of man as imago Dei allows, in a certain sense, the deification of man, seeing him closer to divine dignity and attaching him (and his body) to a higher value than ever before.

The influence of the imago Dei on the human body and its aspect

  • 40  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., IIIa, q. 8, a. 2, ad 1 : « sensus spiritualis gratiae (...)
  • 41  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent., d. 1, q. 2, a. 4, sol. : « prout ipsa (...)
  • 42  Agostino Paravicini Bagliani acknowledges the same fact in examining the bodies of the popes in th (...)

28Nevertheless, the theory in question requires that the human physique conforms to the spirit on earth 40. Without scrutinizing the complicated reasoning of the exact relationship between the body and soul, it is certainly fair to state that not only does a close interdependence exist between the two, but also that the soul has an influence over the body or, in other words, that the latter subordinates to the soul, as is the effect to the cause. In order to explain the spirit’s influence over the earthbound body, Thomas Aquinas compares it once again to the divine beatitude ennobling the soul to paradise 41. In the same way that God’s influence raises the resurrected bodies and souls to the height of glory in the realm of heaven, in the same way (on earth) stems an ennoblement from the virtuous soul on the body 42.

29It is therefore possible for Thomas Aquinas to conclude on the subject of the human body by referring to Pierre Lombard :

  • 43  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent., d. 16, divisio textus.

« hic ostendit secundum quam partem in homine sit imago assignanda : et primo ostendit quod secundum animam ; secundo ostendit quod hujusmodi indicium etiam in corpora ostenditur, ibi : sed in corpora quamdam habet proprietatem quae hoc indicat » ; « Here, he, [Pierre Lombard, author’s note] shows us how the image [of God, author’s note] is to be perceived in man : firstly, he shows us it is according to the soul ; secondly, he shows us that a clue to it is also divulged by the body. He notes that it, [the image of God image, author’s note] bears a characteristic indicative of it, in the body 43. »

30The conformity between body and soul is expressed in an even more explicit manner, through another « distinction » from the Sentences relating to the exalted bodies :

  • 44  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., IV Sent., d. 49, q. 4, a. 5, quaestiuncula 2.

« imago autem Dei primo et principaliter in mente constitit ; sed per quamdam derivationem etiam in corpora hominis quaedam repraesentatio imaginis invenitur, secundum quod oportet corpus animae esse proportionatum […] unde etiam beatitude vel Gloria primo et principaliter est in mente, sed per quamdam redundantiam derivatur etiam ad corpus, ut beatitudo hominis secundum corpus dicatur, quod imperium animae Deo conjunctae perfecte exequatur » ; « the image of God is present first and foremost in the spirit ; however on account of some drifting, a representation of the image is to be found in the body and since the body remains proportionate to the soul […] this is why blessedness or glory is first and foremost to be found in the spirit, but thanks to some overabundance of it, it drifts into the body in such a way that a man’s blessedness can be determined, according to his body, since the body follows in a perfect way the soul’s domination from the latter’s divine union to God 44. »

  • 45  F. Dander, « Gottes Bild und Gleichnis in der Schöpfung nach der Lehre des hl. Thomas von Aquin », (...)

31Here the relationship between the body and soul is called a true proportionality. However, despite Thomas Aquinas’s affirmations, one cannot help but recognize a certain reserve with respect to the assertion that, on earth, the quality of the image of God is directly recognizable in corporeal appearance. Indeed, all the examples of Aquinas refer to the aspect of glorified bodies. But if the body’s appearance on earth is not considered likely to express every time the quality of the soul, the ennoblement of the body caused by the virtuous soul is incontestable. « Just as man’s likeness to God first leaves its mark on the soul and then overflows into an ennoblement of the flesh, so does divine blessedness take hold, first and foremost, of the soul. Then, in a state of exaltation, it is poured over the flesh 45. » With this in mind, the body becomes the external manifestation of the spiritual fulfillment, and the latter manifests itself mainly in the body and its appearance.

The valorization of the body in Scholastic thought and rites

32Consequently, the human body is the subject of an unprecedented theoretical valorization. This reassessment of the physical aspect was an important factor for introducing pourtraitures, but it manifests itself in other spheres of Scholastic society. In the field of papal activity, Paravicini Bagliani noticed, particularly in the Scholastic period, an increase in rituals and customs expressing a higher interest in corporeality, a movement that finds its peak in Pope Boniface VIII, who himself is a prominent figure in the introduction of pourtraitures due to his gisant.

33Perhaps the greater importance attributed to the human body in 13th century society manifested most clearly with the introduction of long-term embalmment. This process in appearance coincides chronologically with the theoretical developments mentioned, and aims not only for public exposure of days or weeks of virtuous persons during their funeral rites, but also for their recognition ; the remains were required to be identifiable by public spectators. Conservation techniques had to aim for the highest preservation of facial features. Finally, the figure of Francis of Assisi represents an example in the hagiographic domain for Scholastic theories relating to the body. Francis is stigmatized, not by the direct act of a seraph, but due to his spiritual fulfillment that the angel only catalyses. It is therefore the soul of the saint that directly provokes the incorporation of the wounds.

34These changes confirm the higher importance of man and his human body by modifying the definition of imago Dei. Their new formulation began in 12th century and peaked in the theories of Thomas Aquinas.

Conclusions for the development of portrait and pourtraiture

  • 46  A. Monferini, « Pietro di Oderisio e il rinnovamento tomistico », in Momenti del marmo. Scritti pe (...)
  • 47  A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Âge. D’après les procès de canon (...)
  • 48  See D. Olariu, La genèse de la représentation…, op. cit., chap. « Embaumement. Une archéologie de (...)

35Regarding the appearance of pourtraitures, textual explicit sources related to artisanal production and Scholastic theory have certainly not yet been discovered. Also, given the weak regularity with which writings are inscribed in the artistic milieu of the Middle Ages, doubts remain as to whether such texts can be found. We could consequently contest the influence of Scholastic thought on the realization of artefacts. However, we must first acknowledge the fact that pourtraitures actually appear in the learned circles of society in the 13th century. Clement IV’s gisant, for example, which is the first to exhibit realistic features, was executed at the papal court of Viterbo, where Thomas Aquinas also stayed in the years 1267 and 1269 46. Thereafter, it is important to underline that Scholastic thoughts on the interdependence of body and soul were not restricted to the scholars themselves. André Vauchez reminds us that « saintliness, before being a quality of the soul or a spiritual state, is initially an energy (“virtus”) which manifests itself throughout a body 47 ». If the uncultivated peasant cannot explain the theoretical system as the erudite cleric can, he nevertheless knows the symptoms of the doctrine in terms of belief, since these are consequences of a general conception of that time. A large number of hagiographic legends confirm this finding. Their quantity steadily increases in the late Middle Ages and confirms, as also stated Paravicini Bagliani for the domain of the pope’s body, that the Scholastic theory of the soul’s influence on the body becomes a topic of paramount importance, crossing different levels of the society. The incubation time of these thoughts may certainly have been a long one. However, their articulation and refinement seems to have been accomplished during the 13th century. It would explain why the human body becomes such an important topic in the society of the 13th and following centuries. Not only the hagiography and the pope’s rites seem to express this idea, but also the kings’, nobles’ and high clerics’ funerary rituals, where the corpse is embalmed and displayed during a long time period, a ritual all in contrary to those of the preceding centuries 48. These changes show a new attitude towards the human body in the 13th century, changes that have been tried to be demonstrated here by the thinking of one of the most important theologians of the time, Thomas Aquinas. Certainly Thomas Aquinas was not the only philosopher of the Scholastic period, but his importance for the theology of his time and the analogy of his ideas with the changes mentioned make of him a good paradigm to discuss the rise of new body concepts and the lifelike portraiture.

  • 49  For the imagines maiorum, see C. Belting-Ihm, « Imagines Maiorum », in Reallexikon für Antike und (...)

36In contrast to the theoretical background discussed in this study, the production of pourtraitures in the 13th century is presented in a different light. Theoretical developments seem to have been of paramount importance for the lifelike representations of mankind. According to these thoughts, a pourtraiture not only exhibits a resemblance to the model, but through the latter, it depicts the apparent degree of the spiritual fulfillment of the person represented. If the virtuous soul affects the body and its exterior, the representation of the virtuous body becomes worthy of being portrayed. For the first time in Occident, the faithful representation of man can be referring to God and doesn’t simply serve as a glorification of the represented. The resemblance thus becomes a sign, used in visual arts and referring to virtue. The lifelike sculptures of the virtuous bodies, as those of the popes for instance, were a privilege of these persons and refer (in Scholastic sense) to their godly status. The right to lifelike pourtraiture is reserved, according to medieval understanding, for God-given dignitaries. One can reflect upon the antique right to produce the « imagines maiorum » expressed in old Rome as a similar idea 49.

37Hence, pourtraitures can be regarded as forerunners of Renaissance portraits. They express the inner dignity of the represented through lifelike facture. In this sense, even the gisants exposing the dead are an important step towards the portraits of the 15th century. These portraits express deeper qualities, such as the character of a person. By establishing the theorem of the influence of the imago Dei on the body, Aquinas sets the preconditions for introducing the lifelike depiction of the human body in the visual arts.

Reçu : 28 août 2013 – Accepté : 25 novembre 2013

Haut de page

Notes

1  I would like to thank Jennifer Marie Cabral Poejo for translating this article into English.

2  Incidentally, lifelike portrayals of individuals have existed in Ancient Times, but during the Middle Ages, their creation ceased in the West. This article studies the circumstances of their reappearance in the West.

3  These questions and the development of the lifelike portrayal of man in 13th century have been analyzed by the author in La genèse de la représentation ressemblante de l’homme. Reconsidérations du portrait à partir du xiiie siècle, Bern, 2014.

4  For these gisants, see for instance J. Gardner, The Tomb and the Tiara. Curial Tomb Sculpture in Rome and Avignon in the Later Middle Ages, Oxford, 1992. The lifelike quality of these representations is underlined by the fact that the catafalques, on which these gisants are depicted, are faithful reproductions of the catafalques used for the lie in state. I. Herklotz, « Paris de Grassis Tractatus de funeribus et exequiis und die Bestattungsfeiern von Päpsten und Kardinälen in Spätmittelalter und Renaissance », in J. Garms and A. M. Romanini (ed.), Skulptur und Grabmal des Spätmittelalters in Rom und Italien (papers of the congress Scultura e monumento sepolcrale del tardo medioevo a Roma e in Italia, Rome, 4th-6th July 1985), Vienna, 1990, p. 217-248.

5  The bibliography for Enrico Scrovegni is very rich. I only cite the most recent : E. Castelnuovo, « Les portraits individuels de Giotto », in D. Olariu (ed.), Le portrait individuel. Réflexions autour d’une forme de représentations du xiiie au xve siècles, Bern, 2009, p. 103-120 (with bibliography) ; C. Frugoni, L’affare migliore di Enrico. Giotto e la cappella Scrovegni, Torino, 2008 ; S. Romano, La O di Giotto, Milan, 2008, p. 129-143 ; see also D. Olariu, « Le savoir transmis par les images. Langage pictural et empirisme dans la Chapelle Scrovegni à Padoue », in P. Hummel and F. Gabriel (ed.), La mesure du savoir. Études sur l’appréciation et l’évaluation des savoirs. Paris, 2007, p. 155-167 ; Id., « Scrovegnis Bildnisse : eine Anleitung zum Glücklichsein. Einige neue Aspekte zur Entstehung der Arenakapelle und ihrer Ausstattung als kommunalem Propagandasystem », in B. Mersmann and M. Schultz (ed.), Kulturen des Bildes, Munich, 2006, p. 223-244. For a contrary opinion about the representations of Enrico Scrovegni, see P. Seiler, « Giotto als Erfinder des Porträts », in M. Büchsel (ed.), Das Porträt vor der Erfindung des Porträts, Mainz, 2003, p. 153-172.

6  E. Panofsky, Idea. Ein Beitrag zur Begriffsgeschichte der älteren Kunsttheorie, Berlin7, 1993 (1924). See also R. W. Scheller, Exemplum. Model-Book Drawings and the Practice of Artistic Transmission in the Middle Ages (ca. 900-ca. 1470), Amsterdam, 1995, p. 9-18.

7  O. Pächt, « Early Italian Nature Studies and the Early Calendar Landscape », Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 12 (1950), p. 13-47, here p. 13. For nature studies of the representation of animals in the Scholastic period, see D. Olariu, « Miniaturinsekten und bunte Vögel. Naturbeobachtung und Tierdarstellungen in Manuskripten des 13. Jahrhunderts », in M. Gaier, J. Kohl and A. Saviello (ed.), Similitudo, Paderborn, 2012, p. 59-76. W. Brunsdon Yapp, « The Birds of English Medieval Manuscripts », Journal of Medieval History, 5 (1979), p. 315-348 ; Id., Birds in Medieval Manuscripts, London 1981 ; Id., « Birds in Bestiaries : Medieval Knowledge of Nature », The Cambridge Review, 20 (Nov. 1984), p. 183-90 ; Id., « Medieval Knowledge of Birds as Shown in Bestiaries », Archives of Natural History, 14 (1987), p. 175-210. For herbals, see M. Collins, Medieval Herbals. The Illustrative Tradition, London, 2000. For nature observation in the 13th century, see J. Givens, Observation and Image-Making in Gothic Art, Cambridge, 2005, passim ; R. W. Scheller, Exemplum…, op. cit., p. 61-76, 176-187, 208 and p. 210, footnote 13.

8  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, (parts Ia, Ia-IIae, IIa-IIae, written between 1265 and 1268 ; part IIIa, written between 1272 and 1273, has not been finished ; the Supplementum of the Summa Theologiae was not written by Thomas himself, but by his disciples ; however it contains the master’s thinking. Below the Summa is abbreviated, as usually, by a roman numeral referring to the corresponding book). For the Latin text has been used the « Leonine » edition (Sancti Thomae de Aquino Opera omnia, jussu Leonis XIII, P. M. edita ; cura et studio Fratrum praedicatorum ; commissio Leonina), vol. 4-12, Rome, 1888-1906, IIIa, suppl., q. 80, a. 1, resp. : « anima se habet ad corpus non solum in habitudine formae et finis, sed etiam in habitudine causae efficientis. Est enim comparatio animae ad corpus sicut comparatio artis ad artificiatum ». For the English translation has been used now and in the following the « Benziger Bros. edition » : The Summa Theologica, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province, New York, 1947-1948.

9  For the imago Dei, in particular in Scholasticism, see L. Scheffczyk, « Die Frage nach der Gottebenbildlichkeit in der modernen Theologie », in Id., Der Mensch als Bild Gottes, Darmstadt, 1969 (Wege der Forschung, 124), p. IX-LIV ; Id., « Gottebenbildlichkeit », in J. Höfer and K. Rahner (ed.), Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 11 vol., Freiburg im Breisgau, 1957-19672 (1st ed. 1907-1912), vol. 4 (1960), col. 1087-1092 ; R. Bruch, Die Gottebenbildlichkeit des Menschen nach den bedeutendsten Scholastikern des 13. Jahrhunderts, Freiburg im Breisgau, hand typed PhD thesis, 1946 ; P.-T. Camlot, « La théologie de l’image de Dieu », Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, 40 (1956), p. 443-471 ; H. H. Somers, « L’homme, image de Dieu. Origine du thème », Bijdragen, 20 (1959), p. 126-145 ; S. Otto, Die Funktion des Bildbegriffes in der Theologie des 12. Jahrhunderts, Münster, 1963 (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, 40/1) ; Id., Gottes Ebenbild in Geschichtlichkeit. Überlegungen zur dogmatischen Anthropologie, Paderborn, 1964 ; H. Merki, « Ebenbildlichkeit », in Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, published by Rheinisch-westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 19 vol., Stuttgart, 1941-, vol. 4, 1958, p. 459-479 ; bibliography in K. Krämer, Imago Trinitatis. Die Gottebenbildlichkeit des Menschen in der Theologie des Thomas von Aquin, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2000, p. 505-524, and D. J. Merriell, To the Image of the Trinity, Toronto, 1990, p. 249-254.

10  On the substance of the Latin phrase, see L. Hödl, « Zur Entwicklung der frühscholastischen Lehre von der Gottesebenbildlichkeit des Menschen », in L. Scheffczyk, Der Mensch…, op. cit., p. 193-205, firstly published in L’homme et son destin, d’après les penseurs du Moyen Âge (papers of the First International Congress on Medieval Philosophy, Louvain – Bruxelles, 28th August-4th Septembre 1958), Louvain/Paris, 1960, p. 347-359.

11  In fact, angels also share this ability with God, but this has no importance within this study.

12  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a. 6, ad 4 : « ipsa imaginaria visio, quae provenit ex hoc quod acies animae, id est ipsa vis imaginaria, informatur secundum praedictam speciem », « the vision itself, which is caused by the summit of the soul, that is, the faculty of imagination, informed by the species ».

13  É. Gilson, Le thomisme. Introduction à la philosophie de saint Thomas d’Aquin, Paris, 19976 (1st ed. 1964), p. 38. This is why Sylvester of Ferrara, for instance, can still write, in 1552, about the imago Dei in his Commentaries on Contra Gentiles : « dicitur homo habere imaginem Dei, et esse illi similis secundum speciem, quia convenit cum Deo in supremo gradu naturae in quo creatura possit Deo assimilari, scilicet in gradu intellectuali, qui tenet locum ultimae differentiae in Deo, secundum nostrum modum intelligendi ».

14  The influence of Thomasian dogma has been borne out by several events in religious history. In year 1264, Aquinas participated in the official founding of The Corpus Christi feast day (by Pope Urban IV) illustrating his importance. Twenty two years later in 1286, Thomas Aquinas’s work received the Dominican authorities’ official agreement to study their order. In 1316, Pope John XII instigated the canonization procedure (which was completed in 1323). In 1312, the Dominican unitarian doctrine – according to which the soul plays the decisive role in determining the individual – was proclaimed as the Church’s official doctrine by the Council of Vienna in the constitution Fidei Catholicae. From 1272 on, important changes occurred relating to the theory of particular judgment. In consequence of Thomas Aquinas’s thinking, Benedict XII’s Benedictus Deus constitution (in 1336) determined the divine judgment following death. Finally, in his Summa Theologiae (drawn up as a systematic plan for integral theology) Thomas Aquinas releases an analysis and summary of theological thought in mid 13th century.

15  W. Seibel, « Der Mensch als Gottes übernatürliches Ebenbild und der Urstand », in J. Feiner and M. Löhrer (ed.), Mysterium Salutis, Einsiedeln, 1967, p. 805843, p. 814, chap. « Grundthema der christlichen Anthropologie ».

16  See for instance P. Faure, « Corps de l’homme et corps du Christ : l’iconographie de la stigmatisation de S. François en France et Angleterre (xive et xve siècles) », Micrologus, 1 (I discorsi dei corpi), p. 327-346, p. 330. See also D. Olariu, La genèse de la représentation…, op. cit. p. 343-351. Thomas de Celano, Vita Prima S. Francisci Assisiensis. Et eiusdem Legenda ad usum Chori, Ed. Collegium S. Bonaventurae, Florentiae, 1926 ; Id., Vita secunda S. Francisci Assisiensis, Ed. Collegium S. Bonaventurae, Ad Claras Aquas, 1927. On the stigmatization of Saint Francis there is an abundant bibliography. Are mentioned here only some studies containing a vaster bibliography. C. Frugoni, Francesco e l’invenzione delle stimmate. Una storia per parole e immagini fino a Bonaventura e Giotto, Torino, 1993 ; Id., Vita di un uomo : Francesco d’Assisi, Torino, 1995. D. Russo, « Du culte à l’image : saint François d’Assise ou la naissance de l’image de religion », in P. Henriet and A.-M. Legras (ed.), Au cloître et dans le monde : femmes, hommes et sociétés (ixe-xve siècle). Mélanges en l’honneur de Paulette L’Hermite-Leclercq, Paris, 2000, p. 379390 ; Id., « Des saints et des stigmates. À propos de saint François d’Assise et de saint Pierre de Vérone, martyr : iconographie et projet de chrétienté au xiiie siècle », Stigmates (Les cahiers de l’Herne, 75), Paris, 2001, p. 5569.

17  Bonaventure of Bangoregio, Legenda maior, in Legendae S. Francisci Assisiensis saeculis XIII et XIV conscriptae (Analecta Franciscana, 10), Edition of the collegium sancti Bonaventurae, Published in 5 fascicles, Quaracchi, 1926-1941, fascicle 5 (1941), p. 555652, chap. XIII, § 2 sq., here p. 616 ; G. Wolf, « Giacomo da Lentini : der « malende » Notar oder das Bildnis im Herzen (um 1230/40) », in H. Baader, R. Preimesberger and N. Suthor (ed.), Porträt, Berlin, 1999, p. 156161, here p. 160.

18  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 75, a. 4, resp. : « Manifestum est quod homo non est anima tantum, sed est aliquid compositum ex anima et corpore ». P. E. Zoffoli, C. P. : « La dignità del corpo umano nella dottrina di S. Tommaso », in Antropologia Tomista (papers of IX Congresso Tomistico Internazionale, Studi tomistici, 42), Vatican City, 1991, p. 81-90, p. 82 : « […] l’uomo non è la sua anima : essendo un composto sostanziale di anima e corpo, egli, essenzialmente, è prima di tutto “un corpo” ; corpo che, destinato a servire lo spirito, è il più perfetto d’ogni altro ».

19  T. de Koninck, « Foreword », in M. A. Smith, Human Dignity and the Common Good in the Aristotelian-Thomistic Tradition, New York, 1995, p. I-V, here p. II.

20  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 77, a. 7, ad 3 : « sicut imperfectum a perfecto ». Ia, q. 77, a. 7, resp. : « omnes potentiae animae comparantur ad animam solam sicut ad principium ». « those powers of the soul which precede the others, in the order of perfection and nature, are the principles of the others ».

21  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., IIIa, suppl., q. 70, a. 1, resp. : « potentiae sensitivae, et aliae similes, non manent in anima separata nisi secundum quid, scilicet ut in radice, per modum scilicet quo principiata sunt in principiis suis : in anima enim separata manet efficacia influendi iterum hujusmodi potentias si corpori uniatur ».

22  Dante, Divine Comedy, “Purgatory”, 25, 100-102 : « Però che quindi ha poscia sua paruta, / è chiamata ombra ; e quindi organa poi / ciascun sentire infino a la veduta » ; translation by R. and J. Hollander. See also H. Belting, « Image et ombre. La théorie de l’image chez Dante, dans son évolution vers une théorie de l’art », in Id., Pour une anthropologie des images, Paris, 2004 (Le temps des images), p. 241-270.

23  P. E. Zoffoli, C. P. : « La dignità del corpo umano… », op. cit., p. 83 : « Si tratta di una “mediazione” per la quale nell’uomo – e soltanto in lui – il “corporeo” col complesso delle sue potenze attive resta sublimato e come spiritualizzato, sì da rendere possibile – a livello dell’“esse” – l’interdipendenza tra anima e corpo che – a livello dell’“agire” – fonda la reciprocità tra intelletto e sensi, per la quale l’uno può influire immediatamente sugli altri come immediata è l’unione tra materia e forma… ».

24  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a. 6, ad 3.

25  However, the trace is a reference to God more dissimilar than the image of God and refers to all creatures that are not an image of God.

26  K. Krämer, Imago Trinitatis…, op. cit., p. 317 sq.

27  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum Magistri Petri Lombardi (also called Scriptum super Sententiis ; written between 1254 and 1256 ; below abbreviated, as usually, by Sent. preceded by a roman numeral for the corresponding book). Sancti Thomae Aquinatis […] opera omnia. Edition of Vernon J. Bourke. 8 vol. New York, 1948, vol. 6 and 7, I Sent., d. 14, q. 5, sol. : « dicendum est, quod mens sumitur hic, sicut et supra, pro ipsa superiore parte animae, quae est subjectum praedictae imaginis ». « One should underline that the spirit is understood here, like mentioned above, as the truly superior part of the soul which in itself is subjected to the above-mentioned image [of God, author’s note] ». The English translation here and in the following is by the author.

28  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., IV Sent., d. 49, q. 4, a. 5, sol. 2.

29  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 12, a. 3, ad 2 : « Quod autem statim, visis corporibus, divina praesentia ex eis cognoscatur per intellectum, ex duobus contigit, scil. ex perspicacitate intellectus, et ex refulgentia divinae claritatis in corporibus innovatis ». « But that the divine presence is known by the intellect immediately in sight of, and through, corporeal things, which occurs from two causes, viz. from the perspicuity of the intellect and from the refulgence of the divine glory infused into the body after its renovation ».

30  L.-M. de Blignières, « La dignité de l’homme image de Dieu selon saint Thomas d’Aquin », in Antropologia Tomista…, op. cit., p. 199-220, p. 205, footnote 29. In paradise, the human body is so ennobled that intelligence and soul have an immediate influence on the body, without any delay. This influence is characterized by six qualities of the exalted bodies : their brightness (« claritas » : meaning a matchless glow), their nimbleness (« agilitas » : meaning the ability to move the body as the reason wishes it to), their impassiveness (« impassibilitas » : meaning the ability to be without suffering), their subtlety (« subtilitas » : meaning the ability to go through other objects or to resist them), their incorruptibleness (« incorruptibilitas »), and finally their total submission to the soul. See Contra Gentiles, IV, chap. 86.

31  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 95, a. 1, resp. : « erat enim haec rectitudo secundum hoc, quod ratio subdebatur Deo, rationi vero inferiores vires, et animae corpus ».

32  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 94, a. 2, resp. : « anima enim hominis in statu innocentiae erat corpori perficiendo et gubernando accommodata […] sed huius vitae integritatem habebat, inquantum corpus erat totaliter animae subditum, in nullo ipsam impediens ». « For man's soul, in the state of innocence, was adapted to perfect and govern the body […] But he was endowed with integrity as to this life, in that the body was entirely subject to the soul, hindering it in no way ».

33  Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles (written between 1261 and 1264 ; abbreviated below, as usually, by C.G. followed by a roman numeral indicating the corresponding book). Edition called « Leonine » (Sancti Thomae de Aquino Opera omnia, jussu Leonis XIII, P. M. edita ; cura et studio Fratrum praedicatorum ; commissio Leonina), vol. 13-15, Rome, 1918-1930, C.G., IV, chap. 81, § 3 : « Anima, praeter ordinem suae naturae quia Deo aversa, subtracta est dispositio quae eius corpori divinitus induta erat, ut sibi proportionaliter respondeat ». For the English translation has been used here and in the following : Summa contra Gentiles, ed. J. Kenny, New York, 1955-1957.

34  D. J. Merriell, To the Image of the Trinity, op. cit., p. 45, referring to I Sent., d. 28, q. 2, a. 1, ad 2.

35  For the « species », see D. J. Merriell, To the Image of the Trinity, op. cit., p. 45 and Thomas Aquinas, De ente et essentia, chap. 2.

36  U. Eco, Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, New Haven/London, 1986 (1959 in Italian), p. 74. Aquinas refers here to Euclid. See also Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia-IIae, q. 110, a. 3, 3 : « est in quarta specie qualitatis, quae est forma et circa aliquid constans figura » ; IIIa, q. 45, a. 1, ad 2 : « figura circa extremitatem corporis consideratur : est enim figura quae termino vel terminis comprehenditur. (Euclid, Element., lib. I, defin. XIV). Et ideo omnia illa quae circa extremitatem corporis considerantur, ad figuram quodammodo pertinere videntur ».

37  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 35, a. 1, resp. : « Unde, si depingatur color alicuius rei in pariete, non dicitur esse imago, nisi depingatur figura » ; Ia, q. 93, a. 1, ad 2 : « sicut imago regis in nummo argenteo ».

38  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent. d. 16, q. 1, a. 1, sol. : « imago proprie dicitur quod ad alterius imitationem est. Nec tamen quaelibet imitatio rationem imaginis perficit ; ut si hoc sit album et illud album, non ex hoc dicitur ejus imago : sed ad rationem imaginis exigitur imitatio in aliquo quod speciem exprimat et essentiam : proter quod ab Hilario dicitur species indifferens. Et inde est quod in corporalibus secundum imitationem figurae potissimum imago attenditur, quia figura est quasi certum signum ostendens unitatem et differentiam speciei. Haec autem imitatio potest esse dupliciter : […] aut quantum ad signum tantum, et non quantum ad veritatem speciei, sicut imago hominis est statua lapidea ».

39  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., Ia, q. 93, a.1, ad 3 : « cum unum sit ens indivisum, eo modo dicitur species indifferens, quo una. Unum autem dicitur aliquid non solum numero, aut specie aut genere, sed etiam secundum analogiam vel proportionem quandam ; et sic est unitas, vel convenientia creaturae ad Deum ».

40  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, op. cit., IIIa, q. 8, a. 2, ad 1 : « sensus spiritualis gratiae non pervenit quidem ad corpus primo et principaliter : sed secundario et instrumentaliter ». « The spiritual sense of grace does not reach to the body first and principally, but secondarily and instrumentally ».

41  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent., d. 1, q. 2, a. 4, sol. : « prout ipsa coniunctio animae et corporis est quaedam similitudo divinae beatitudinis, qua coniungitur spiritus Deo ».

42  Agostino Paravicini Bagliani acknowledges the same fact in examining the bodies of the popes in the later Middle Ages. In his study focusing on the rites at the pontifical Curia he states an increasing importance assigned to the pope’s body. This development starts getting to a climax during the 13th century. The ennoblement of the pope’s body may be explained by his status as Vicarius Christi. However the pope’s position as Vicarius Christi means nothing else than an extraordinary ennoblement of his soul, transferred to his body. A. Paravicini Bagliani, The Pope’s Body, Chicago, 2000, passim and especially the chap. « The Corpse » and « Corporeity ».

43  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., II Sent., d. 16, divisio textus.

44  Thomas Aquinas, Commentum Sentenciarum…, op. cit., IV Sent., d. 49, q. 4, a. 5, quaestiuncula 2.

45  F. Dander, « Gottes Bild und Gleichnis in der Schöpfung nach der Lehre des hl. Thomas von Aquin », in L. Scheffczyk, Der Mensch…, op. cit., p. 206-259, p. 249 [the article was first published in Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie, 53 (1929), p. 1-40, and p. 203-246].

46  A. Monferini, « Pietro di Oderisio e il rinnovamento tomistico », in Momenti del marmo. Scritti per i duecento anni dell’Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara, Rome, 1969, p. 39-63 ; P. C. Claussen, « Pietro di Oderisio und die Neuformulierung des italienischen Grabmals zwischen Opus Romanum und Opus Francigenum », in J. Garms and A. M. Romanini (ed.), Skulptur und Grabmal…, op. cit., p. 173-200, here 186 ; A. Paravicini Bagliani, The Pope’s Body, op. cit., chap. II., footnote 92, have drawn out attention to the fact that Thomas Aquinas stayed in Viterbo in 1267 and 1269 and they discuss an influence of the philosopher’s thinking on the pope’s gisant. Thomas must have been in contact with Clement IV. It therefore seems obvious that the pope was at least aware of his ideas. As this article tries to demonstrate, the theories of Thomas Aquinas on the soul/body relationship are to be found in the pourtraitures of the pope and his followers.

47  A. Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Âge. D’après les procès de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques, Rome, 1981, p. 509.

48  See D. Olariu, La genèse de la représentation…, op. cit., chap. « Embaumement. Une archéologie de la ressemblance », p. 81-210.

49  For the imagines maiorum, see C. Belting-Ihm, « Imagines Maiorum », in Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum. Published by Rheinisch-westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften. 19 vol. Stuttgart, 1941-, vol. 17, 1996, col. 995-1016 ; O. Benndorf, Antike Gesichtshelme und Sepulkralmasken, Vienna, 1878 (Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch-Historische Abteilung, 28) ; J. von Schlosser, Histoire du portrait en cire, Postface by T. Medicus, Translated from German by É. Pommier, Paris, 1997 [firstly published as « Geschichte der Porträtbildnerei in Wachs. Ein Versuch », in Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien (1911), p. 171-258] ; A. N. Zadoks-Josephus Jitta, Ancestral Portraiture in Rome and the Art of the Last Century of the Republic, Amsterdam, 1932.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Dominic Olariu, « Thomas Aquinas’ definition of the imago Dei and the development of lifelike portraiture  », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [En ligne], 17.2 | 2013, mis en ligne le 05 décembre 2013, consulté le 23 mars 2017. URL : http://cem.revues.org/13251 ; DOI : 10.4000/cem.13251

Haut de page

Auteur

Dominic Olariu

Philipps-Universität Marburg

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus du Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre (BUCEMA) sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Centre d'études médiévales d'Auxerre
  • Revues.org