Picturing Punishment: The Spectacle and Material Afterlife of the Criminal Body in the Dutch Republic
Picturing Punishment examines representations of criminal bodies as they moved in, out, and through publicly accessible spaces in the city during punishment rituals in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. Once put to death, the criminal cadaver did not come to rest. Its movement through public spaces indicated the potent afterlife of the deviant body, especially its ability to transform civic life.
Focusing on material culture associated with key sites of punishment, Anuradha Gobin argues that the circulation of visual media related to criminal punishments was a particularly effective means of generating discourse and formulating public opinion, especially regarding the efficacy of civic authority. Certain types of objects related to criminal punishments served a key role in asserting republican ideals and demonstrating the ability of officials to maintain order and control. Conversely, the circulation of other types of images, especially inexpensive paintings and prints, had the potential to subvert official messages. As Gobin shows, visual culture thus facilitated a space in which potentially dissenting positions could be formulated while also bringing together seemingly disparate groups of people in a quest for new knowledge.
Combining a diverse array of sources including architecture, paintings, prints, anatomical illustrations, and preserved body parts, Picturing Punishment demonstrates how the criminal corpse was reactivated, reanimated, and in many ways reintegrated into society.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 328 pages
- Illustrations: 90
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"[In contrast to the secretive modern penal system], norms of early modern justice as social control insisted on keeping criminal bodies visible before, during, and even after their punishment. Gobin draws upon an amazing array of sources – archives and literature, print culture and architecture, and paintings from the famous to the anonymous – to reveal to us the visual fate of the criminal body in the Dutch Republic. A fascinating contribution to the history of law and justice as well as the history of art."
Elizabeth A. Honig, Professor of Northern European Renaissance Art, University of Maryland
Author InformationAnuradha Gobin is an associate professor in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
1. Structures of Power: Constructing and Publicizing the New Amsterdam Town Hall
Peace and Prosperity
Civic vs. Religious Dominance
Spectacle, Prestige, and Publicity
Public Access and Republican Virtues
2. Procession and Execution Rituals: Moving through the New Amsterdam Town Hall
The Iconography of Justice
Rituals of Justice behind Closed Doors
Public Ceremonies on Execution Day
3. Disposal and Display: The Criminal Corpse on the Gallows
Moving Executed Bodies
Identity Formation at the Gallows
Undignified Decomposition and the Taboo of Touch
4. Subversion and Symbolic Transformation: Recreation, Ambush, and Humour at the Gallows
Sexual Innuendo, Leisure, and Acts of Resistance at the Gallows
5. Serving the Public Good: Reform, Prestige, and the Productive Criminal Body in Amsterdam
Deriving Civic Good
Social Status and the Transformation of Anatomical Practice
Dr. Tulp’s Fame and the Criminal’s Reform
6. The Transformation of Touch: Flayed Skin and the Visual and Material Afterlife of the Criminal Body in the Leiden Anatomy Theatre
A Curious Attraction
Paaw’s Vesalian Methods
Interacting with Objects
7. The Symbolism of Skin: Illustrating the Flayed Body
Properties of Paper and Parchment
Subjects and Courses