The new interpretation of a fresco known as the Triumph of Death in Pisa concerns itself with issues of Western theology such as Pope Benedict XII's bull of 1336. The pontiff stated ex cathedra that each soul will be judged immediately after death and not solely at the end of time as his predecessor, John XXII, had proposed. Thus, Benedictus Deus was an important document in the contemporary debate on eschatology. The Triumph of Death visualizes these dogmatic changes in its allegorical devices. Most importantly, the painting alludes to the increased significance of the immortal soul. The mural portrays the transi (the decaying corpse) as expendable. Formally, the body was thought essential for its resurrection, now it has become merely a symbol and a reminder of the soul's impending trial at the time of death.
'La Tempesta' remains a perennial riddle. Salvatore Settis catalogued twenty-nine past solutions, adding his own (Adam, Eve, Cain). This paper explores a biblical source in Genesis 16, Hagar's flight from Sarai. Giorgione would present a tableau of Hagar suckling Ishmael by a spring in the wilderness on the road to Shur, under the watchful protection of the messenger angel, costumed as a Renaissance soldier with lance. (Absence of angels' wings is common in Biblical texts and visual arts). The bolt of lightning becomes a sign of God's power (Revelation and Psalms) and his covenant with Hagar and her offspring.
Described by Giorgio Vasari (Vite, 1568) as a "fearsome and terrible sight", the Sala dei Giganti in the Palazzo del Tè in Mantua derives its power from its unusual pictorial structure. More than any other work of the Cinquecento, it extends the Albertian notion that painting is like a window in order to exist as a fully autonomous spatial continuum that transforms the spectator into an active participant. Not surprisingly, this potent form of illusionist held a special fascination for those who frequented the court of the Gonzaga. The Sala dei Giganti was not, however, only appreciated for its ability to conquer the two dimensionality of the picture plane, but was admired because its virtual lack of perimeters forced the viewer to transgress the boundaries between the real and the imaginary. Its unique structure enabled the beholder to enter into an acutely visceral and absorptive relationship with representational space and allowed him to experience more fully the atmosphere of hedonism for which the palace was famous. But such a reduction of the liminal field did not merely provide the visitor with a novel and pleasant diversion; it also instilled in him a sense of the uncanny by decentering his status as viewer. This notion not only finds confirmation in written accounts by such 16th century visitors to Mantua as Giorgio Vasari, Jacopo Strada, and Giovanni Battista Armenini, but is recorded in pictorial form as well. The fame of the Sala dei Giganti rests, therefore, not only upon its ability to offer the viewer a Narcissistically-based experience of delight, but also upon its capacity to revive in him the fearsome memory of his own undifferentiated beginnings, that time when the ego was one with its surroundings.
Paola Gonzaga's Camerino in the Rocca Sanvitale at Fontanellato has long been the subject of debate and of speculation in terms of its unusual location, its patron and the meaning of its fresco decoration. It is my contention that this commission was a cooperative arrangement between husband and wife, and that, while Giangaleazzo Sanvitale may have provided the majority of the financial support for the project, it was Paola who determined the theme and the iconography of the Camerino decoration - a room for and about herself. Stimulated by the loss of an infant son, she created a personal statement by which she speaks to her peers about her own tragedy and about her ideas concerning the religious and the moral issues of the day.
Thecorpus of easel paintings by Gian Paolo Panini (1691—1765) prior to 1719 presented in F. Arisi's catalogue raisonné of Panini's work (1986) is to a great extent dependent on the hypothesis that the Preaching of an Apostle in Esztergom (Hungary) is an early work by Panini. This article argues that this painting is a copy of an untraced work by Giovanni Ghisolfi; that a great many other putative early Paninis are in fact by Ghisolfi, Alberto Carlieri, and others; and that Panini in his early years was not the pasticheur of Ghisolfi and others painters that he has been painted.