The equation between the verbal and the visual, most famously and succinctly summed up in the Horatian dictum, Ut pictura poesis, is a well-established topos in the history of art. Comments on the relationship between verbal and visual form abound from all periods, and the Byzantine is no exception. This essay considers the analogy between painting and poetry in the context of the early Byzantine period through an examination of two of Byzantium's most familiar images, the sixth-century mosaic portraits of the emperor Justinian (r. 526—567) and his consort Theodora (d. 546) in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna.
In this paper, I discuss Geertgen tot Sint Jans' Man of Sorrows (c. 1495) as a tool for perfecting Christian souls. I argue that this image was a meditational aid that was designed to prick the viewer's conscience and engender contrition for his or her sins. In the period, contrition was central to the Christian penitential system and, for the faithful, was necessary for perfecting the soul and reconciling it with God. Geertgen's image required devotees to exercise their memories and imaginations in order to enmesh themselves mentally in the events of the Passion and forge empathic links between themselves, Christ, and his attendants. These links helped the faithful to experience Christ's sufferings in highly individual terms, to understand their own culpability in them, and to awaken sorrow for their shortcomings. The image was a tool that helped fifteenth-century Christians to desire to make amends for their failings by leading them through a process of careful self-examination and self-recrimination. Scourging their innermost selves with contrition, the faithful prepared their souls for the transition out of sin and toward salvation.
Focusing on Benedetto da Maiano's pulpit in Santa Croce, this paper attempts to investigate the intriguing interrelations between art and preaching by analyzing the manner in which the nature and content of preaching helped shape the pulpit. In Santa Croce, the pulpit is a permanent preaching pulpit used for the seasonal cycles of Advent and Lent; it was specifically intended as a platform for popular preaching to the laity. Located in the lower nave, rather than near the altar, it is not a freestanding structure but part of the pier. The pulpit is examined in terms of its sources (visual and especially textual), its physical context within the church, its historical and cultural context (in particular as related to the sermons of San Bernardino and his followers), and the political and religious climate after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. The Franciscan cycle of this pulpit is associated with the veneration of Saint Francis in the 15th century, the conception of Francis as alter Christus, and crusade ideology.
This article deals with the impact of Cypriot art on thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italian panel painting. The main consideration is an iconographic type of Virgin and Child, known as the Kykkotissa Virgin. This article provides an analysis of the Cypriot iconographic type and its variations, as well as a discussion of the possible channels through which Cypriot art reached Italy. The various occurrences of the Kykkotissa Virgin in Italian panels of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries indicate artistic connections between Cyprus and Italy. This article proposes that Tuscany, in particular, had close ties to Cyprus and played an important role in the diffusion of Cypriot iconographic types. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the discussion of the dissemination of types and motifs from Byzantine tradition to the thirteenth-century Italian art.
The Original Function of the Uffizi Tribune in Florence
The Uffizi Tribune, today one of the best known places in the Florentine art collections, in its origin was not intended to serve as a museum. The analysis of its dome in context of the formal tradition dating from the antiquity, and taking into account the interest of the dukes, popes and queens of the Medici family in occult sciences allow to suggest that the Tribune originally had been built for astrological purposes.
Claude Lorrain's Minerva Visiting the Muses (c. 1680, LV 195), painted for an unknown patron, is one of the artist's last works, the last recorded in his "Liber Veritatis", and also his last painting of a subject from Ovid's Metamorphoses — one of his favourite literary sources, especially in the 1640s and 1650s. The subject, a relatively rare one, is related to that of "Parnassus" — showing Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon, or Parnassus — which Claude painted twice: in 1652, for Camillo Pamphilj (LV 126) and in 1680 (LV 193), for Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna (possibly also the patron of LV 195). The present article considers the relationship between these works, and explores the associations of the subject, drawing on mythographers, and on images in emblem books and the illustrated Ovids. In particular, the association of the Muses with poetic inspiration in rural seclusion, and especially with celestial harmony, is emphasized. The painting, as a tribute to wisdom and the arts, provides a fitting conclusion to Claude's treatment of Ovidian themes.
The critical examination of the artistic output of Kazimir Malewicz (1879—1935), intended to establish a catalogue raisonné of the work of the painter, has led the author of the present paper to emphasise some fundamental traits of his painting technique which — apart from their artisanal application — constitute an indispensable element of the painter's artistic practice. Going beyond the limits of the mere specificity of technical processes, this study reveals the aesthetic objectives in the artist's creation, present already in his Expressionist period (1910—1911), and which are far better visible in his works from the Suprematist period (1915—1918). Based on a broad repertory of technical approaches, this study of Malewicz's painting technique, and in particular on the specificity of some of his own artistic devices (lacquered watercolour, intermediary layers of varnish or the characteristic way of inscribing forms in relation to the background of a composition), shows the important aspects of an eminently expressionist conception of non-objective (abstract) forms, "pictural beings" (Malewicz 1915), which for many decades, quite falsely, had been relegated by the pretended "modernist" critics to the purgatory of "geometrical coldness". This vision had subsequently influenced abusive restorations of surfaces of numerous works by Malewicz and thus had distorted the image of Suprematism. Revealing the preliminary stages of creation of several of Malewicz's key works, such as the original Quadrilateral (called the Black Square, 1915) or the lower layers of the White Square (1918), obtained by means of technical investigation — using X-rays or digital infra-red camera — for the first time provided access to the origin of Suprematist forms. In this way one can see to what extent the Suprematist forms are the result of a painstaking, though voluntary process of purification of artistic concepts.