[Ger.: ‘devotional image’]
Type of religious image intended for devotional contemplation and the stimulation of affective piety that evolved in the late Middle Ages. Many of these images were developed in the 14th century in response to the writings of the Cistercians and Benedictines, in particular, but also of the Franciscans and Dominicans. Many of the authors encouraged self-identification with the joys and sufferings of the Virgin and Christ, and the images served as a means of meditating on the events described in the texts. They were frequently painted on small panels or illustrated in Books of Hours and were available to a wider audience through woodcuts and engravings (see Book of Hours). Larger carved representations and altarpieces were also common in churches.
Many of these devotional images were extracted from a narrative and in some cases preserve its essential elements, for example such close-up emotive groups as Christ and St John the Evangelist from the Last Supper, or the Pietà from the Lamentation at the foot of the Cross (see below). Other ...