Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Depiction and Intention

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Richard Wollheim writes, 

What is unique to the seeing appropriate to representations is this: that a standard of correctness applies to and this standard derives from the intention of the maker of the representation, or “the artist” as he is usually called - ... (262)

Consider the following case.

A famous portraitist is commissioned to paint a King; he is named John. King John arrives for the sitting, but is called away hurriedly due to uprisings in the kingdom. Fortunately, King John thinks to himself, "I could just have my twin Sir Jack sit for me!" So, King John enlists Sir Jack to sit in his place and our artist is none the wiser. After all, the brothers look exactly alike and he intends to paint the King. After a weeks worth of work, the portrait is hung and is finally viewed by the royal family. After a pleasant evening of food and wine, King John's sister Justine looks upon the painting and remarks, "This is such a wonderful depiction of King John." Question: is she correct that it is a depiction of King John? Why? If she is incorrect, who is it a depiction of?Why?