An astonishing image of Christ and Mary wrapped in an amorous embrace as the sponsus/sponsa of the 'Song of Songs' is the central image of a major winged altarpiece attributed to the early 14th-century painter known as the Maestro di Cesi. Based on the motifs in the partially ruined fresco by Cimabue in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, until now it has been seen as derivative work, useful only in helping to recreate the more important fresco. Cleaned and restored and recently identified as having been painted for the Augustinian Monastero della Stella in Spoleto, the altarpiece now takes its place as a major work of the early Italian trecento, admirable for its precious technique and commendable for it iconographical innovations.
Donatello's Judith and Holofernes was most probably positioned in the garden of the Medici Palace shortly after the palace was completed in the mid to late 1450s. Although rarely noted in the literature, the completion and decoration of the Medici Palace in the 1450s corresponded to a period in which the Medici and their political party struggled to maintain political unity and, in essence, their united control of the city. This article examines this conjunction of artistic and political events by analizing Donatello's statue in relation to the theme of pride that is central to the iconography of the Judith narrative, is at the center of the inscription that once accompanied the statue, and is clearly informative of political circumstances of the 1450s and memory of the Albizzi-Medici struggle of the 1420s and early 1430s. That earlier period became an important period of reference for the Medici and their regime as they worked to maintain their tenuous unity in the 1450s.
This essay analyzes the use by Renaissance artists of firm posture, gravity, and solid contrapposto to convey a sense of moral worth and dignity. We must rely on visual evidence to demonstrate the idea that the artists intended stance to have an ethical meaning, although the idea is also supported by a few written texts of the period. Observers have often overlooked the moral significance of stance, giving attention instead to the naturalism and aesthetic effects of counterpoise and weighty stance.
The article discusses an episode from Condivi's biography of Michelangelo, apparently invented by the great sculptor himself and by scholars dismissed as "apocryphal", fictitious, i.e. not worthy of being used as a biographical source of Michelangelo. The author argues that even if the story was invented, it is nevertheless a part of history: Michelangelo's fictive shaping of his life-story is itself factual, a fact from his life. The "facts" of Michelangelo's "life" are delivered to us so artfully by his biographers, and such fiction is a historical fact. The author suggests that instead of being terrified by the word "fiction", we should seek to ponder the interrelations of facts and fiction.
The Manhattan Eros is replete with links to the hand, mind, eye, and ambience of Michelangelo. But his authorship of this mixed aggregate is not proven. Ultimately ascription depends upon the strengths and weaknesses of empathy and expectation joined with a wealth of supportive but inferential evidence. Whoever its author may be - and certainly Michelangelo among a host of others seems for now the most likely candidate - its androgynous and variously autobiographic attributes, including breast formulae (accessible also to forgers and simulators), tally with recurrent polymorphic aspects of Michelangelo's sanctioned and taboo interests expressed with and as a generative force that inspired his life, art, and times. This imagery, sublimated in hermetic and grotesque phantasms doted on by his elite patronage, was ultimately influential and prophetic for aspects of Mannerist and Baroque affectation.
Luca Signorelli's frescoes in the Cappella Nuova of the Orvieto Cathedral (1499-1504) have long been noted for style, the monumental figure, and the unusual subject matter: a unique combination of the Last Judgment, events from the Apocalypse, and scenes from Dante and classical literature. Though scholars have written much about the chapel, no one has satisfactorily explained that this seemingly disparate combination of scenes forms a logical, unified program, designed for an audience accustomed to seeing paintings as visual sermons. This article explores the Roman liturgical texts for the Feast of All Saints and Advent as the unifying factor, and reveals an underlying message of salvation through penance.
After summarising the comments of other art historians on possible links between Cézanne's paintings and Japanese landscape prints, the author assesses the circumstantial evidence for Cézanne's knowledge of Japanese art, noting that several of Cézanne's friends were in the forefront of the Japonisant movement. Cézanne is famous for his denial of the value of outline, one of the techniques which lends Japanese prints much of their character, and advocacy of the representation of nature by the cylinder, the sphere and the cone, an idea which can also be found in the writings of Hokusai. This denial of outline may reflect the artist's awareness of Japanese ink paintings, as opposed to prints, and it is also clear that he understood some of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism, which were in harmony with his own notion of the worship of nature. The article concludes by suggesting that Cézanne may have painted exactly thirty-six oil paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire in conscious rivalry with the title of Hokusai's series of 'thirty-six' (actually forty-six) views of Mount Fuji.