Jan van Eyck’s aim in painting the Crucifixion panel of the diptych in New York’s Metro-politan Museum of Art was to portray the drama of the Passion "exactly as it happened." Indeed, he achieved a startling degree of realism in the spatial and temporal relationships repre-sented, and the setting, the figures, and the interaction between the latter are all treated with meticulous truthfulness. To create this world which imitates empirical reality but also main-tains something of an autonomous, nonreferential existence, the artist used a specific type of composition, that of the "populous calvary."
This genre, as Hans Belting and Dagmar Eichberger have shown in their groundbreaking work on van Eyck, is marked by features of pictorial narration. The present article points out that these features in The Crucifixion merely constitute a narrative framework for many of the painting’s special characteristics, in particular its instantaneous, snapshot-like quality, derived from the open yet fragmentary handling of space. Their origins lie in Italian painting of the first half of the 14th century. An important source of the narrative element may be the little-known Crucifixion panel attributed to Pietro Lorenzetti in the Museo Stibbert, Florence, while the earliest example of the element of eventfulness and immediacy may be Duccio’s Entry into Jerusalem from the main altar of the cathedral of Siena.
The tondo, one of the most popular formats for devotional painting and sculpture in Quattrocento Florence, reflected specific religious and cultural ideas, in particular humanism and its veneration of the circle. The documentary material presented here contains clues not only as to the origins of the tondo but also regarding the meanings it held in the Renaissance. This synthetic study opens with an examination of the philological background of the word “tondo”, and goes on to discuss various inventories in detail, including those of the Medici family and the Magistralo dei Pupilli, as well as commission and payment documents, and artists’ inventories. In the final analysis, an astonishing correlation exists between the documents and the physical evidence. The author also assesses both written records and works of art to determine where tondi would have been placed.
Michelangelo’s Brutus is usually considered the source and catalyst of the subsequent dif-fusion of the ciassicizing portrait bust in Italy. Yet there already existed a tradition in northern Italy, particularly in Padua and Venice, of making all’antica busts. The author argues that the Roman bust was revived in Padua by an interrelated group of antiquarians for reasons far re-moved from the desire to ape Michelangelo.
Moreover, the traditional dating of the Brutus to 1539-40 is shown to be highly suspect. Although it is not known when Michelangelo began the work, its current appearance dates from the mid-1550s at the earliest, long after the classicizing bust had appeared in Florence and Venice.
The focus is on the meaning of one symbolic detail in A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer, and the resulting implications for the artist’s relationship to contemporary genre painters. In the center of the painting, the near edge of an open door is interrupted by what appears to be the ring of a key. Visual and literary sources of the period link keys with domestic responsibility, duty, and fidelity, implying the privilege of access and closely associated with housewives and housemaids. Keys also had a sexual connotation, alluding either to lustful behavior or to female virginity.
Most modern studies of Caravaggio’s critical fortunes during his lifetime and in the dec-ades following his death have highlighted the negative reactions to his work, which was accused of allegedly displaying poor invenzione, being overly dependent on the model, and lacking in disegno and decorum. Yet the important fact that the artist’s contemporaries lav-ished praise on his innovative use of color has been largely overlooked. Within this current of positive criticism his colore was credited with verisimilitude and imaginativeness, and consequently regarded as worthy of imitation.
Ut Pictura Non Poesis: Lord Shaftesbury’s “Ridiculous Anticipation of Metamorphosis” and the Two Versions of Diana and Actaeon by Paolo de Matteis
A comparison of the two versions of Diana and Actaeon by Paolo de Matteis illustrates how in the second version the painter abandoned his "poetic" interpretation of the myth for a "dramatic" one in conformity with Lord Shaftesbury’s theoretical views.
Shaftesbury believed that the history painter should follow a "rule of consistency" preclud-ing the temporal metalepsis exhibited, for example, in the many paintings of the Diana and Actaeon story showing the latter’s "horns already sprouted" even before "the goddess ... has thrown her cast."
The article provides external evidence for dating the paintings, and shows that, in attempt-ing to adapt literary theory to painting, Shaftesbury failed to heed his own advice knowing, as one learns from his notes, that ut pictura non poesis.
Lorenzo Bartolini Interpreted Through Jean-Jacques Rousseau
It is clear from both his work and his writings that the Tuscan sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini (1777–1850) favored the respectful imitation of nature over neoclassical idealism. Since the last decade of his life, his approach has been commonly interpreted within the framework of Realism. This article shows the influence on Bartolini of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose ideas the artist came in contact with during his studies in Paris in 1799–1807, and three years later when he worked for Duchess Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in Lucca. Several major works by Bartolini owe a significant debt to Rousseau and in particular his 1762 novel of moral devel-opment and sensibility, Émile: ou De 1’éducation.
In surveying the humanistic implications of the Greek and Roman myths that have pro-vided subject matter for twentieth-century art, the article shows how modern artists have interpreted the myths through their own personal experience. Among their motivations for turn-ing to mythology is the attempt to suggest that the world is a continuum of unchanged human experience.
Also explored is the influence on the artists of earlier artistic, literary, philosophical, and psychological interpretations. The focus is on the myths most frequently seen as bearing humanistic meaning: Prometheus, Venus, Apollo, Dionysos, Orpheus, Oedipus, and Odysseus, and the Minotaur.
Leonardo da Vinci’s dream of a nibbio, or kite, a rapacious carrion bird, opening his mouth with its tail while he lay in the cradle, has been the subject of several psychoanalytical studies. The article is the first atempt to evaluate the dream within the larger context of the artist’s interest in dreams and fantasies, as well as in bestiaries and fables. Many emblematic descriptions of kites wewre in Leonardo’s possession, suggesting that the bird held personal significance for him. Some of the virtues symbolized by the kite, such as self-restraint and moderation, crop up in other contents, for example in the Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine (Czartoryski Collection, Kraków), and in his fables involving monkeys. Like the nibbio dream, these instances can be understood as Leonardo’s reminders to himself of the need to exercise restraint in order to continue undistracted in his mission as a guide of art.