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When we say that ‘Love is blind’ or ‘Time flies’ – making concepts sound like living beings – we are using the language of allegory. Painters have long relied on allegory to create ‘message pictures’. Once thought to rival literary works or political oratory in influence and prestige, such paintings, with their references to ancient myth, the Bible or astrology, all too often puzzle modern viewers. This book explains types of visual allegory in Western art, and the contexts in which they were originally created and viewed, through some of the most beautiful and intriguing pictures in the National Gallery.
A Closer Look: Allegory was first published as Allegory: National Gallery Pocket Guides in 1997.View spreads of this book (2.3 MB PDF)