The portrait we have come to call ‘Little Girl with Dead Bird’ is an enigma. On the one hand, we hardly know anything about this sixteenth-century masterpiece. But even so, on the other hand, the picture fascinates viewers to this day. This painting’s indeterminate yet compelling status provides Volkmar Mühleis grounds to look beyond its historical significance and to explore its anthropological scope as well, from an intercultural perspective and, moreover, against the backdrop of its complex of themes concerning life and death. To do so, Mühleis returns to the conceptual premises that frame the relationship between the history of art and the anthropology of images, along with those that juxtapose Western and Eastern philosophies.
translated from German by John R. J. Eyck
Leuven University Press, 2018 200 pages, 25 Euro
(The German edition was published in 2014 by Wilhelm Fink Verlag, entitled Mädchen mit totem Vogel – Eine interkulturelle Bildbetrachtung)