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Is a term first coined by Erwin Panofsky in 1936/7 when referring to Piero di Cosimo's The Discovery of Honey (ca. 1499) —now in the Worcester Art Museum (MA)— to denote a recourse of Landscape painting that used symbolism to present a moral dilemma to the viewer. This dilemma was based on the biblical antithetical concepts of aera sub lege and aera sub gratia.

Given the associations of the number Five with the senses and the flesh, the old aera sub lege consisted, according to the famous schema of Isidore of Seville, of five historical ages: from Creation to Flood; from the Flood to Abraham; from Abraham to David; from David to the Babylonian Captivity; and from the Captivity to the Birth of Christ, which ushered in the sixth age, the new aera sub gratia.[1]

Sharon Fermor, in her chapter on Piero's landscapes, follows Panofsky in reading Piero's The Discovery of Honey as a paysage moralisé. However, Thomas Mathews reveals that the unusual blend of classical allegory perhaps precludes such a moralized and total reading of the work. (See also Epicureanism)



Piero di Cosimo, The Discovery of Honey (Worcester Art Museum)

 


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