|Making of the ‘Truth’ – Visual Strategies in Processes of Legitimating Institutions. European Diplomacy in the Arts in the 17th and 18th Century|
|As a rather conservative field of research the history of diplomacy was one of the last domains which got affected with approaches of new cultural history. Current studies emphasize in a general perspective the importance of diplomacy for early modern communication-networks and their public appearance, especially its representational quality relating to the theory of early modern symbolic communication.
Due to the fact that since the end of the 16th century diplomats obtained the central function to represent the ruler, to constitute, embody and heighten the rulers’ rank in the public – the focus of representation changed from an ‘authentic’ face-to-face communication between rulers to an indirect communication of representatives. In a society in which authorities and their legitimation are constituted through symbolic acts this change of representation must lead to a reaction – but not a determined reaction like critic or ignorance, but a flexible process of reactions between traditional and innovative forms of authorizing.
My paper focuses on the function of images in these processes. Because images were traditional used for creating, demonstrating and securing dynastical power and public commemoration it is supposable that they also were an adequate medium in conflicts of representational models and their authorization. Thus it is not surprising that since the 17th and 18th century, images of diplomatic acts were created systematically in a high number with different visual concepts between ‘mimesis’ and ‘allegory’. It raises the question in which quality these images obtained an active part in the contemporary political communication and the construction of social reality. Due to their aesthetical form images can contain visual strategies which have an affinity to ceremonial /representational logics, especially the visual concept of ‘mimesis’. Because ceremonial needs to be ‘authentic’ in its aesthetic form and non-ambiguous to legitimate and authorize the result it finds its counterpart in visualizations with a high ‘realistic’ manner. It raises the question in which way different visual concepts stand for and create evidence and stabilize or question a specific representational form in the named socio-political change.|