Kristine M. Larison, Tufts Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer of Art History, SMU
Topographical images of Mount Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine appear in both painted devotional panels and print media at the end of the 16th century. Employing the visual conventions of early modern mapmaking and Renaissance landscapes, these loca sancta images also drew upon an established visual culture at the Sinai monastery to promote its identity as an important focus of Christian pilgrimage after a century in which religious and political boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean were significantly altered. By creating an icon of place, the 16th-century topographical view of Mount Sinai asserted the authority of its holy sites and the ongoing access to this sacred past. The new “spatial image” provided a reenactment of pious travel through the process of viewing, thus offering an alternate means of encountering the divine on the “holy and God-trodden” mountain.
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