In allegory, language is broken up, dispersed, in order to acquire a new and intensified meaning in its fragmentations. This dissertation breaks up four texts and disperse them in order to obtain new and intensified meaning of Gustave Courbet's Allégorie Réelle. The Allegory, in this study, changes according to the author who treats it. In new art history, the attention is redirected to the reader. The focus is less on the questions of the biography and on the intentions of the artist, but rather on questions of who the artist is for the each reader.
This dissertation puts forward an interpretation of four studies of Gustave Courbet's The Painter’s Studio, A Real Allegory Summing up Seven Years of my Artistic and Moral Life (1855) within New Art History. The main objective of this study is to compare how Linda Nochlin, James H. Rubin, Michael Fried and Petra ten-Doesschate Chu handle allegory.
Rubin’s aim is to show the allegorist as the interpreter of “reappropriated” cultural imagery that in his hands becomes something else. For Chu, as for Rubin, the aim of using the allegory is to reappropriate imagery, but in her study, it is in order to act as index for repression and freedom. Nochlin’s aim is to show allegory as the model of textuality where the transgression of the Law is not effected in the body of women. Finally, Fried found in the allegory a commitment to percep¬tion, thus finding the authenticity as painting not only in painting. My analysis of these texts goes beyond summarizing each essay in which the art historians discuss the painting. It is to show how, when a painting is treated as a text, language provides multiple possibilities to achieve understanding. It is my intention to understand the theories and methodologies that the art historians, that I have chosen to study, use in order to read the real allegory.