Constructing Imaginary Cities in Fifteenth-Century Illumination: The Iconography of Troy as Mental Discourse

Congratulations to Marina Musurok-Ferry who won the 2014 ICMA Student Essay Prize for her study of imaginary cities in fifteenth century illumination. Please enjoy both an abstract and the full text with illustrations of the winning essay.

Abstract: In the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Trojan legend was one of the most popular myths in the European courts, and in the Burgundian court in particular. Thelegend was depicted in numerous tapestries and illuminated manuscripts. This article examines the image of Troy in Franco-Flemish illumination of the fifteenth century. I explore and interpret the iconography of Troy as a mental and semiotic construct linked to such real cities as Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople. I will examine images of the real cities and the ways in which they influenced the formation of Troy’s iconography, a connection overlooked in current scholarship. The research will therefore focus on the permanent architectural and landscape elements borrowed from real cities, which were mythologized and sacralized in the European tradition. Emphasis will be placed on the city’s visual representation in the miniatures as influenced by literary materials (i.e. medieval manuscripts containing stories of Troy). My particular interest lies in how the image of Troy evolved simultaneously through a religious and political perspective. That is to say, I will pay particular attention to the cultural codes, the sacred topography and the contexts creating images of the nonexistent city.

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