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Painters in the past and commercial artists in our own day have relied on allegory to create "message pictures." Once thought to rival literary works or political oratory in influence and prestige, such paintings, with their references to ancient myth, the Bible, or medieval astrology, all too often puzzle modern viewers.
This Closer Look guide illustrates and explains the main types of visual allegory in Western art and the contexts in which they were originally created and viewed.
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