Ecfrasis: Escritura y pintura en el costumbrismo argentino

Beatrice Giannandrea, Florida International University


This dissertation examines the discursive practice of Argentine costumbrista texts from a novel perspective. In (re)reading the works of selected prominent writers from the late colonial period to the end of the Nineteenth Century, including those of Alonso Carrió de la Vandera, Emeric Essex Vidal, León Pallière, Lucio Vicente López, Lucio V. Mansilla, and Pastor Obligado we focus on the presence of ekphrastic enunciations with a view toward linking the plastic, painterly dimensions of the prose to parallel representations by artists of the same period. Thus the costumbristas are studied in tandem with the watercolors, oil paintings and lithographic compositions of artists such as Carlos Enrique Pellegrim, César Hipólito Bacle, Raymond Monvoisin and Hipólito Moulin. The resulting comparative study of the two arts---the verbal and the pictorial---illustrates the notion described by W. J. T. Mitchell that a literary text may well "represent a work of visual or graphic art." And thus, it provides us with visual, spatial motifs that enhance its powers of representation. In developing our focus on ekphrastic representations we have followed the theoretic studies of Murray Krieger, Jean H. Hagstrum, James Hefferman, John Hollander, W. J. T. Mitchell, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Wendy Steiner among others, all of whom in various ways take their cue from Horace's Ut pictura poesis and the notion that poetry, that is literary discourse, can be likened to a panting and that in both arts there is a refractive quality that makes literature a spoken vehicle of expression and painting a silent, complementary voice. In studying the literary and plastic discourses comparatively what becomes evident is that they share cultural and ideological concerns that center around the notion of self-definition, national identity, and the relation of the individual to the incipient national community (Benedict Anderson). These concerns are highlighted via the depiction of customs, mores, dress, work habits, professions, and social classes. In late colonial literature and painting and especially in the Nineteenth Century, which constitutes the defining period of Argentine political independence, the confluence of the two disciplinary discourses addresses, and underscores the issues of socio-political empowerment in the new Argentine nation.

Subject Area

Latin American literature|Art history

Recommended Citation

Giannandrea, Beatrice, "Ecfrasis: Escritura y pintura en el costumbrismo argentino" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3206024.