Forms of Testimony in Dirk Bouts’s Justice of Otto III
Commissioned by the Leuven authorities for the town hall in 1468, Dirk Bouts’s Justice of Otto III depicts a tale of rejected sexual advances, false testimony, and wrongful execution. The panels reflect on the status of women’s testimony in legal discourse; but it is not simply the veracity but the visibility of gendered testimony that is at issue. In its narrative presentation of gender and testimony, the panels affirm the evidentiary value of gendered concepts of honor in a way that engages with the value of the visual medium and its potential otherness in relation to words. Through the image of the narrative’s key female witness, the images also provoke insight and judgment on their own authority.
I am grateful to Walter Prevenier and the editors of this volume for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this essay.