Originally published, with a slightly different title, in an issue of Social Research (XLV, 1978) dedicated to the work of Meyer Schapiro, this essay attempts to assess certain aspects of Schapiro’s contribution and their relevance as models for the study of art. Among the aspects singled out are: the relationship between his studies of past and present art, between his scholarship and learning, on the one hand, and his critical commitment, on the other; his fundamental respect for the work of art and for the artist, for the freedom of artistic exploration and inventiveness, which underlies the basic humanism of Schapiro’s critical approach and system of values.
Gardens in Language and the Language of Gardens
The point of departure for the work is the analogy between poetry and gardening. In poetry the words are employed expressively and not with the mere aim of communication. In a garden the plants, the trees, the grass are grown for expressive purposes and not for utilitarian goals. That is why the garden is the model for the aesthetics of agricultural planting (and not vice versa) just as poetry is the model for the aesthetics of the communicative discourse (and not vice versa). The author bases the polemics in the work on the refusal of utilitarianism and of scientism, with the claim to the primacy of beauty over utility, and of expression (and representation) over function. The basic philosophical reference is the critique of judgement by Kant, interpreted according to the romantic tradition.
From Hiberno-Saxon manuscript art of the 7th and 8th centuries later Anglo-Saxon artists retained and developed certain idiosyncratic attitudes toward the frame, among which are the following: first, a sense of the equivalency of figure and frame, with forms in the field often touching or crossing the frame; and second, specific systems of aesthetic ordering within the frame itself, such as a predilection for chiastic relationships of color and ornament. In addi-tion, Anglo-Saxon artists developed several concepts that had appeared sporadically in art since the Late Antique such as the inhabited frame, the frame as a sequential ordering device in narrative illustration, and the frame as an expressive element in itself rather than simply an inert boundary or border. These attitudes represent an especially important and vital link be-tween the earlier Insular aesthetic and the fully developed High Romanesque and Gothic.
Florentine marriage chests played an important part in the complex marriage rituals of the Quattrocento. They were purchased by the groom’s family, sent to the bride to be filled, and then carried through the street in a wedding procession which marked the final step in the le-gitimization of marriage. This parade had the form of a triumphal procession. It provided an arena for symbolic enactment of hostility between the newly allied families and for the display of family power in the face of community envy or hostility. It resembled folk customs surviving in parts of Europe well into the nineteenth century. The martial and classical subjects of most chests reflect the form and content of the marriage ritual and the education of their purchasers. Florence restricted, to some extent, the actual display of wealth in the ceremony: the painted scenes partly compensate for such restrictions.
Documents and Paintings: Cavaliere Giovanni Baglione and His «Guardian Angel» Tommaso Salini Figure Painter. Some Recovered Works
In the course of investigation on Caravaggesque paintings the author has come upon some hitherto unknown paintings by Giovanni Baglione, painter and biographer of other artists, his contemporaries. Of these paintings up to now thought to be lost, some were mentioned in the biography of Baglione himself (Vita del Cavalier Gio. Baglione, Pittore, Rome 1642, pp. 401–405) for example St. Martin and the Poor Man, previously in the possession of the Sisters in the Church of San Silvester in Rome and St. Peter and St. Paul, previously in the Sala del Concistoro in the Vatican; other were actually signed like Christ Frees Magdalene of the Demons. At the same time more was found out about the personality of one of Baglione’s closest followers, so close as to be nicknamed his «guardian angel». We mean Tommaso Salini, he too of the first generation in Roman Naturalism originating from Caravaggio, even if, for reasons not gone into here, Salini often keeps his distance from the movement. The re-covery of a painting documented by Baglione himself, the standard of the SS. Quattro Coronati has allowed us furthermore to reconstruct partly (along with the identifying of other works) his lesser known and less confident activity as a figure painter as compared with his more interesting activity as a still life painter.
Some years ago, two investigators (John Brown and C. Gottlieb) identified the pictorial source for Velazquez’s Surrender of Breda (Las Lanzas) as having been derived from an em-blem included in Andrea Alciati’s influential Book of Emblems. Whereas this emblem, “CONCORDIA”, somewhat echoes the principal action in Velazquez’s epic surrender-scene, nevertheless it does not have any real bearing on the Spaniard’s central narrative, namely the exchange of the keys to the city of Breda. This motif, however, is found in another of Alciati’s emblems, the 167th, which deals with the cautionary subject of “IN DONA HOSTIUM” (Against Gifts from Enemies). In order to darify the very different intentions of Alciati’s two emblems, the commentaries to the Liber Emblemata written by Diego Lopez (Declaration Magistral, Valencia 1615 and 1655) are quoted in extenso, and then these are compared with contemporary historical accounts of the events at Breda (particularly the reac-tions to these in Spain) in order to attempt to reveal the likely true significance of Velazquez’s Las Lanzas.
The Chapel of S. Ivo at the University of Rome has remained problematic for historians of art and architecture because of its highly unusual form and decoration which although obviously intended to carry some signification convey no clear meaning to the modern observer.
The present work examines the aims and ideas of the patron, Urban VIII Barberini, the history and nature of the University, and their interaction in a specific historical context in order to approach an explanation of the chapel. The liturgies that the chapel was designed to accommodate are examined and their effects on the chapel’s form and decoration described; the ultimate source of the unprecedented plan of the chapel is revealed as the so-called Key of Solomon, a universally-known mystical manual that described ceremonies for the invocation of wisdom for the benefit of students – ceremonies that in textual and scriptural reference, and in program and intent, closely parallel the Tridentine liturgies of Pentecost and Ordination, for which the University chapel was primarily required.
The paper ends with a brief examination of the significance of the choice of the title of S. Ivo, also based on contemporary documents not previously admitted to discussions of the chapel, which title acts as a lynchpin in uniting and reconciling the various liturgical and aca-demic programs present in the chapel.
The “ragione trionfante” at the Medicean Court: Grand Prince Ferdinando and Giuseppe Maria Crespi
The paper considers the relationship of patronage and friendship that came to be between Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici and the Bolognese painter Giuseppe Maria Crespi in the first decade of the 18th century, when the artist was in Florence for a long time, guest of the Medici Court. An examination of the documents and of the literary sources regarding Ferdi-nando and Crespi leads us to suppose a considerable affinity of character between the two and an analogous feeling about ethics, so that the many “genre scenes” of a comic joking tone done by Crespi for his friend the Prince, like the “Poggio a Caiano Fair” (Florence, Uffizi) and the two round pictures now in Pisa, Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, turn out to have the value of messages alluding to the moral direction undertaken by both of them, one supported and shared by a considerable number of Florentine intellectuals and men of letters of the time.
Constable’s Tory sympathies are discussed against the background of the English Reform Movement, which posed no genuine threat to the Anglican Church establishment, but which caused Constable and his close friend Archdeacon John Fisher considerable concern. Constable’s 1831 painting, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (private collection), is cited as an attempt by Constable to paint a symbolic statement about the supposed plight of the Anglican Church.
The work concerns the origin and evolution of the tower-motif as the symbol of meditational, self-imposed isolation, present in the art and literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, mainly English. It treats Milton’s Il Penseroso, its 19th century illustrations, the towers built and created in the literary fiction by William Beckford, Precy Bysshe Shelley, William Butler Yeats, together with the prospect towers raised up then in landscape parks. The work concen-trates on two different, but often combined aspects of the tower symbolism, i.e. philosophical isolation and escapism, which were finally incorporated in the secularised cliché of the Ivory Tower.