13. ‘What do I See?’ The Order of Looking in Lessing's Emilia Galotti

  1. Caroline van Eck2 and
  2. Stijn Bussels3
  1. Kati Röttger

Published Online: 20 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444396744.ch13

Theatricality in Early Modern Art and Architecture

Theatricality in Early Modern Art and Architecture

How to Cite

Röttger, K. (2011) ‘What do I See?’ The Order of Looking in Lessing's Emilia Galotti, in Theatricality in Early Modern Art and Architecture (eds C. van Eck and S. Bussels), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444396744.ch13

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Leiden University, The Netherlands

  2. 3

    University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Author Information

  1. University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 14 APR 2011

Book Series:

  1. Art History Book Series

Book Series Editors:

  1. David Peters Corbett4 and
  2. Christine Riding5

Series Editor Information

  1. 4

    University of East Anglia, London, Uk

  2. 5

    Tate, London, Uk

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444339024

Online ISBN: 9781444396744



  • ‘What do I See?’ - the order of looking in Lessing's Emilia Galotti;
  • Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (1980) - Michael Fried's central focus on ‘absorption’ and ‘theatricality’;
  • Fried, and concept of ‘absorption’ - new ‘relationship between painting and beholder’, from the theatre;
  • Schramm's model, and enlightenment theatre - search for a truthful representation of reality, a key role;
  • Diderot, and the Fourth Wall - illusionist technique on stage, ideal, if it dispenses with the spectator completely;
  • interpreting the Fourth Wall - illusion, or enlightenment's propagation of the vrai de nature, and relationships of observation;
  • theatricality, and its appeal - approaching the world and its objects from a ‘different’ perspective;
  • theatricality, a threshold - knowledge and intuition in Kant's sense, regulating a sense-deception, dissolving it or reinforcing it;
  • portrayed body, object of exchange and deception - in Lessing's Emilia Galotti, aesthetic programme, distinction between poetry and painting;
  • stage of portrait, as a gauge - symbolic value of ‘Emilia’ and media of her representation


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Theatricality as a Search Criterion, or, the Paradox of the Fourth Wall

  • The Portrayed Body as an Object of Exchange and Deception in Lessing's

  • Lessing's Answer to Diderot

  • The Stage of the Portrait