The Prophet Muhammad in Late Medieval Christian Manuscripts
This paper will examine a small selection of portraits of the Prophet Muhammad found in different types of illuminated manuscripts produced by Christian artists during the later middle ages. The focus will be on text-image relationships in order to observe to what extent the portraits addressed the same concerns expressed in their accompanying texts as well as in other contemporary polemical literature and popular Christian belief familiar to their manuscript audiences. Of particular interest is pictorial inconsistency: that there was no fixed iconography for the Prophet in Western Christian art of this period raises the question as to whether the very instability of representation served important cultural and theological purposes that were uniquely served by their manuscript contexts, and it also troubles the truism that medieval illuminators relied slavishly on pictorial models.
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