The Resurrection of Christ in the St. Mary Altar in Cracow. On the Problem of Body and Movement in the Art of Veit Stoss
The figure of Christ was treated from the perspective of the Medieval Christian concept of the purified body of the Resurrected. Christ embodies most clearly what theologians called the dos agilitatis. This comes out in the bold straightforward movements in the figure of Christ. Veit Stoss achieved this effect through a unique, ingenious combination of pictorial elements from earleir representations of this theme. As model must have served the no longer extant Resurrection ascribed to Hans Pleydenwurff, as well as one by Caspar Isenmann. An analysis of the Veit Stoss Resurrection in the context of the whole program of the opened retable shows the many layers of reciprocal relations of ideas between the particular parts of the altar.
Giorgio Vasari and Benvenuto Cellini were two of the most articulate and opinionated artists of the mid-sixteenth century. As participants in the paragone debates of 1547 / 48 and 1564, they argued eloquently for the superiority of their respective arts: painting and sculpture. In their other writings they discussed with technical acumen the application of theoretical ideas to the practice of making art. Surprisingly, the techniques they recommended and praised in their essays on l'arte del disegnare were not the methods they practiced in their ownhandling of line. According to Cellini the "bellissimo modo di disegnare" is a contour drawing that has been modelled "as in paintings". But pictorial passages in Cellini's two known finished drawings are overwhelmed by schematic hatchings and an insistence on contour line, thus creating a drawing that is not unlike schiacciato relief. Vasari assumes a position that is squarely opposite to that of Cellini. He designates a contour drawing as "the most masterful" use of the medium but, regardless of his stated preference for purely linear works, he typically modeled his drawings in the manner recommended by Cellini. Vasari's drawings are rendered "as [...] paintings." When Vasari and Cellini apply the practical value of l'arte del disegnare to bozzetti, their opposing positions on the paragone are made abundantly clear.
Caravaggio painted two versions of the Lute Player: one for Vincenzo Giustiniani, to be identified with the picture in the Hermitage Museum, the other for Cardinal Del Monte, to be associated with a newly attributed painting in a private collection. The sitter's sexual ambiguity is considered not as evidence of homoerotic overtones but in reference to the natural appearance of a castrato singing to the accompaniment of his lute. A castrato named Montoia actually lived at the same time as Caravaggio in Del Monte's palace, and this fact corroborated an important interest at that time for this newly emerging musical personality. Caravaggio's particular use of allegorical references is also considered, and these are compared to a later allegorical portrait of a castrato: Andrea Sacchi's Apollo Crowning Marc' Antonio Pasqualini. The latter glorifies a castrato's literary and poetical ambitions and most likely was conceived for the artist himself. Portraits have become the tangible symbols of fame and social position achieved by castrati in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Caravaggio's informal portrayals, on the other hand, evoke more specifically the erotic and sensual qualities of a castrato's particular manner of singing.
Courbet's The Sleepers may be seen as a Realist interpretation of the latent lesbianism evident in many eighteenth-century works with the mythological subject of Diana. The theme of lesbianism was popular in the nineteenth century, especially with artists or writers who advocated Realism or Naturalism, including Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Maupassant, Zola and Flaubert. Lesbianism was, as well, a preferred theme of popular erotica, witness the lithographs of Deveria or Tassaert. In Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin, lesbianism is one expression of the author's theory of art-for-art's sake, his attack on bourgeois conventions and morality. In Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, lesbianism expresses his struggle between extremes of debauchery and asceticism. With the fin-de-siecle, lesbianism, along with androgyny, hermaphroditism and incest, figures in the works of Decadent authors. This theme also has a sociological or psychological context, reflecting the artist's, writer's or patron's personal response to an actual social phenomenon.
Connoisseurship has been criticized as subjective and unscientific. Yet it fosters several skills central to our activity as historians of art: a practiced eye, visual memory, sensitivity to quality, and an ability to re-create the creations of artists. And connoisseurship has more in common with contemporary scientific inquiry than with the empirical, positivist model of science on the basis of which it is still being criticized as unscientific. In practice, the attributions of connoisseurship and the hypotheses of science may be dependent, for the individual and for the context in which he or she operates, upon the interaction of the following: (1) the authority of the person uttering the hypothetical "truth", (2) the correspondence of the hypothesis with observable phenomena whose observation is in part determined by that "truth", (3) the internal coherence of the hypothesis and its consistency with related "truths", and (4) the fruitfulness of the "truth" in leading to further "truths".