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The Nomos of Images. Manifestations of the Law in Picture Atlases and Photo Archives

Real Spaces: Normative Visual Regimes

Menhirs, “thingsteads” (germ. assembly) or court oaks marked sites that are considered to be spaces of legal action. Circular stone constructions like the one in Cavalese are interpreted as evidence of particular judicial practices whose exclusive source of information was usually the form itself. Its function and use can be explained by the specific format which is tied to a social context, with sacrality and law coalescing. The legal historians interest in “thingsteads” attest also the Nazi propagandistic desire in the 1930s, to provide material links to the pagan-Germanic past. Unlike symbolic representations or iconographies of law, “real spaces” can be understood phenomenologically on site, the measure being the human body. Alberti and Vitruvius have described the town wall as a “sacred structure,” explaining that the law could only be practised within its enclosure. Cartography serves to provide a survey of legal boundaries, roads and institutions. Corners of houses and facades with coats of arms and prohibition signs mounted on them control actions in public space. Representational spaces, such as the courtyard of the Bargello or the square with the column monument of Iustitia, allegorically evoke the power of the normative. Here, too, the hierarchical arrangement in the hearing rooms of the court is important for the course a court procedure takes. The physically disciplining layout of places of execution and prisons where the law is administered and implemented is supposed to guarantee the effectiveness of the nomos.


City wall, Via di Belvedere, Florence. Photograph by Hilde Lotz-Bauer, before 1940, KHI, Photothek, inv. 378105

Map of the city of Florence, Veremondo Rossi, after 1765. Copper engraving, 17.2 x 14.9 cm. KHI, Photothek, inv. 74281

Thingstead in Cavalese. Photograph and reconstruction drawing, folder 22 a: thingsteads, court halls, court houses, Vehmic courts. Karl von Amira archive, Munich.

Column (pillory), Ringstrasse in Breslau. Postcard, before 1945, Karl Frölich Collection, Max Planck Institute of European Legal History, Frankfurt/M., inv. SF=F0000D057501a

Wall corner of Casa Chiavacci on Piazza Santa Croce in Florence with the coat of arms of the Peruzzi family. Photograph by Ivo Bazzechi, before 1976. KHI, Photothek, inv. 326348

Noise prohibition plaque on the façade of S. Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi in Florence. Photograph by Ivo Bazzechi, before 1989. KHI, Photothek, inv. 464778

Façade of the Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence with coat of arms. Photograph by Ralph Lieberman, 1991. KHI, Photothek, inv. 491730

Column monument with statue of Iustitia on Piazza Santa Trinità in Florence. Photograph by Hilde Lotz-Bauer, before 1943. KHI, Photothek, inv. 382400

Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, c. 1866, aquatint, 14.1 x 21.1 cm. KHI, Photothek, inv. 94304

Place of execution on Piazza della Signoria in Florence with the execution of Savonarola. Photograph by Brogi, c. 1900. KHI, Photothek, inv. 85427

"Le Stinche", prison, ground plan, Bartolomeo Ammanati (GDSU, Florence, inv. 3401A). Photograph by Luigi Artini, KHI, Photothek, inv. 604718

Western wall and staircase in the courtyard of the Bargello, Florence. Photograph by Ivo Bazzechi, before 1992. KHI, Photothek, inv. 491302




© KHI in Florence | 09.08.2020 16:56:02