They were never wrong… Masters of Word and Picture about Suffering

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Abstract

To handle physical, mental or existential pain, man resorts to medicine, psychology, religion, philosophy ... This issue has also been discussed by writers and painters of all epochs. Artists have the advantage though - using the language of art, they can reach the truth about human life which cannot be accessed in a different way.

The departure point for the deliberations about suffering and the sense of debating about it by means of words and pictures is a poem by W. H. Auden “Musée des Beaux-Arts”, from which the title quotation is derived. Auden refers to P. Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, which applies to Ovid. In this paper, besides the aforementioned works (Auden, Bruegel; Metamorphoses), other paintings by Bruegel as well as the prose by Z. Herbert The Passion of our Lord Painted by an Anonymous Hand from the Circle of Rhenish Masters are used, allowing one to reflect on suffering, on the language of art, on making sense of the work in the reception process, and also on the morality of art and the morality of art understanding.

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