Next VizCult: Christopher Wood, New York University

The ex-voto is an offering to a deity in fulfillment of a vow, a promise made in a moment of despair.  Delivered from illness or imprisonment, the votary visits a shrine and publishes her commitment with a gift.  Ex-votos—sometimes valuable gifts, sometimes mere evidence—are often misrecognized by scholarship, which confuses them with cult images, miracle-working images, and image-borne pleas for spiritual salvation.  In fifteenth-century Italy, votaries began to offer painted panels narrating their own stories.  This new class of ex-voto, resembling works of sacred art, only invites more confusion.  The talk attempts to distinguish the ex-voto from other devotional images, including artworks, on the basis of the concepts of reference and authorship.

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