This essay extends my previous investigations of distance to a genre of art that took distance (or elevation) as its essential signature. In a landmark article Edgar Wind argued that Benjamin West created a “revolution in history painting” by substituting distance in time for distance in space. I argue that a wider and more plastic understanding of distance can help to guide our studies of historical representation, visual as well as verbal. Temporal distance, I suggest, is mediated by at least four basic modes of distance, which I identify as formal, affective, ideological, and conceptual. Understood in these terms, a heuristic of distance and redistancing provides grounds for analyzing the various schools and genres that make up the field of historical representation—neoclassical and nineteenth- century history painting among them.
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