No actually, scratch that. Just thinking about it and I think the Gesualdo thing I was thinking of is something else altogether, not sure what it's called or even if it has a name.
I seem to remember a lot of this kind of thing (pictorial symbolism etc as mentioned in sneekymum's linked article) relating to Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. Also I think that chromatic descending bass in Dido's lament is supposed to represent her descent into the grave (I can't think of any other Purcell examples). I think the doctrine of figures is a much more specific type of pictorial symbolism though. Hope this helps a bit