“The disappearance of Time-images” – On Simona Cohen’s new study (Aevum 2015)

David Lloyd Dusenbury, [Untitled], Aevum. Rassegna di Scienze storiche linguistiche e filologiche 89.2 (2015), 186–188. A review of Simona Cohen, Transformations of Time and Temporality in Medieval and Renaissance Art (Leiden 2014)

trionfo-del-tempo-1460-apollonio-di-giovanni
Trionfo del tempo, by Apollonio di Giovanni, 1460

Transformations of Time and Temporality in Medieval Renaissance Art is a relatively unified study of the representation – and especially, of the personification – of time from antiquity to the Renaissance. Simona Cohen’s basic datum, however, concerns Christian imagery. “A personification of Time per se”, she maintains, “was not depicted in Christian art before the fifteenth century”. This is why her title includes only the medieval and Renaissance periods – and given the prevalence of Time-personifications in antiquity, this lack of medieval Time-images is indeed surprising.

It is, initially, this disappearance of Time-images in the first Christian centuries that interests Cohen. Why is medieval art replete with “images of limited durations” of time – such as years, months and hours – but wholly lacking in images of Time as such? …

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