Configuring Virtue: The Emergence of Abstraction, Allegoresis and Emblem in Swedish Figural Sculpture of the Seventeenth Century

Simon McKeown


This article concerns evidence of Renaissance cultural forms finding
purchase in the visual arts of early-modern Sweden, specifically as expressed in the figural sculpture of the seventeenth century. Traceable
to stylistic innovations introduced by migrant stone-carvers from the
Netherlands, new thematic elements from the realm of humanistic abstraction became established tropes within the native sculptural tradition.
Taking figural representations of the Cardinal and Theological Virtues
as an area of particular focus, the article demonstrates how these traditional topoi were for the first time naturalized as familiar elements in
the decorative programmes of churches and memorial chapels. Their
deployment in such contexts can be seen as evidence of a widening of
the visual repertoire in the light of European cultural developments,
and a new consciousness of the rhetorical power of persuasio among
the commissioning patrons of such works from the emerging political
and cultural elite.


Allegory; Cardinal Virtues; Theological Virtues; Emblem Studies; Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture; Swedish Church Decor

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ISSN 1736-8812 (print)
ISSN 2346-5581 (online)