The oratory of S. Maria della Spina, Pisa's most elaborate Gothic structure, was thoroughly rebuilt starting around the middle of the third decade of the Trecento. The dramatic sculptures of Christ and the Apostles on the oratory's southern exterior, and of the Virgin and Child on the western facade, are closely connected in style to the work of Giovanni Pisano who left Pisa in 1314 and died shortly after. Modern scholarship has assumed that these sculptures were produced in conjunction with the restoration of the oratory they decorated. Accordingly two possibilities emerged: One, that they were by Giovanni Pisano, in which case the oratory's documented restoration of the thirteen-twenties would have been minor; or two, that they were not by the master but belonged to his close following. This study proposes that these sculptures, by Giovanni Pisano, would have been re-used from some other structure, the earlier oratory not excluded. Supporting evidence is found in a survey of the principal sculptural projects produced by Pisan masters in Pisa, Genoa and Barcelona during the third and fourth decades who hardly matched Giovanni in artistic ability and dramatic concept. Recently uncovered evidence reinforces the identification of the principal Pisan sculptor then active as Lupo di Francesco. The exterior architectural decorative vocabulary of the oratory matches that of the tabernacle above the eastern entrance to the Pisan Campo Santo which belongs roughly around the early thirties.
This paper discusses the iconography of Ruth as depicted in two manuscripts, the Tripartite Mahzor, a Jewish prayer book of around 1322 from the Lake Constance region and the Padua Bible, a Christian picture Bible of around 1400 from Italy. Both manuscripts were influenced by the general European iconography of Ruth, but also share some special iconographic similarities based on Jewish commentaries and midrashic texts. The Jewish connection of the Christian Padua Bible is testimony to the Christian interest in the literal sense of the Bible and its Jewish interpretations among some Christian exegetes from the twelfth century on. Alongside the Christian interest in Jewish commentaries it is possible to suggest an additional interest in Jewish or Jewish like pictorial traditions of the book of Ruth.
The essay is to show how, in the Middle Ages, a common narration, in this case the Passion of Christ, could be visually retold and, through this, adapted to specific cultic demands. Naumburg Cathedral's famous western screen with its passion cycle closes off a sort of chapel where, as far as one can deduce from the no less famous statues there, masses were said to the benefit of the founders of the cathedral for the purpose of assisting their sinful souls in purgatory. By placing emphasis in the passion-reliefs on the roles of Judas and St. Peter, the sculptor and his patrons, the Naumburg clergy, raised the question on which basis sin could be forgiven and made clear that among the most important qualifications for obtaining forgiveness was the virtue of hope, a virtue the founders had shown by doing good works and especially by benefiting Naumburg cathedral.
In 1978 Ulrich Middeldorf proposed that the Portrait of a Man Holding a Medal attributed to Botticelli (Florence, Uffizi), depicts the illegitimate son of Giovanni di Cosimo de' Medici, whom he identified as the sculptor Bertoldo. This article tests the plausibility of Middeldorf's idea within a documentary and historical framework, while using the visual evidence of the portrait itself. Furthermore, it is suggested that the sitter of the portrait may be found within the group portrait of the Medici family painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Cappella dei Magi in Palazzo Medici, using a new system for determining the identities of the individuals represented in the Procession of the Magus Caspar.
The presence of people embracing and kissing each other in the Last Judgment has caused astonishment and lack of understanding among Michelangelo's contemporaries as well as in modern scholarship. An explanation is proposed through a close reading of Michelangelo's poems which he wrote during the planning and execution of the fresco and which he dedicated to Tommaso Cavalieri, with whom he was passionately in love. Though referring to various topics originating from medieval mysticism,Petrarchan love-lyric and Renaissance Neo-Platonic love-treatises, Michelangelo's poems strip away the traditional allegorical and metaphorical meaning of representation of physical love. Rather, earthly interpersonal love is the indispensable prerequisite for eschatological salvation and immortality, both for lover and beloved, their love finding fulfilment only in death. This reading of Michelangelo's poetry also allows for a new perspective on the artist's self-portrait on the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew.
Bonifacio de' Pitati's Dives and Lazarus reflects pressing concerns with poor relief, sanitation and the responsibilities of the Venetian aristocrat in Renaissance Venice. This article seeks to establish the picture's correct position in Bonifacio's career and places it in the context of other, seldom discussed versions of the theme by Tintoretto, Jacopo Bassano, Benedetto Caliari and Ludovico Pozzoserrato. In re-embodying Christ's parable on the porch of a contemporary mainland villa, many of these works invite an analysis of contemporary attitudes to villa culture and the socio-economic structure of sixteenth-century lagoon life.
This study uses Vasari and some other sources to propose the influence of Danese Cattaneo's entire although mostly unexecuted project for what is now known as the Apollo wellhead in Venice on Ammannati's Juno Fountain in Florence. Both programs refer to the process of the creation of a vital substance: Danese Cattaneo's wellhead sculptures outline the process of the generation of gold, while Ammannati's refers to the evidently more complex process of the creation of water. In Danese's wellhead program the Venetian state has constrained the forces of nature to labor for them; while there may be some discussion as to whether gold or water is more vital for the state, the allegory of Ammannati is a charming fantasy based upon traditional personifications while the alchemical processes illustrated in Danese's scheme still retained a link to the history of science, and referred to beliefs still held by more than a few.
The cycle Life of Maria de' Medici painted by Peter Paul Rubens, which was executed by the artist for the Western Gallery in Palais du Luxemburg in Paris (1622-1625), was subject to political control, first and foremost by the entourage of the Queen Mother herself, and in the final stages also by King Louis XIII. One of the proofs of the existence of a system of control over the cycle are Rubens' bozzetto and modello for Disembarkation at Marseilles. The bozzetto, dated 1622, is in the collection of Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the modello - in a private collection and has not so far been described at length in literature. The modello was executed by Rubens; it may have been completed with the help of Rubens' then co-worker, Justus van Egmont. The sense of the changes in the composition of Disembarkation of Maria de' Medici at Marseilles (bozzetto - modello - painting) can be explained by the likely intervention of one of the clergymen (probably Abbé Saint-Ambroise) from the Queen Mother's immediate entourage. After the rejection of Rubens' original composition (bozzetto in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich), the artist had to paint another painting - modello (which by definition is larger in format than bozzetto and represents a greater degree of precision with regard to detail) in order to win the court's approval for the new composition. It is the only painting which exists in an intermediary format in-between a sketch (bozzetto) and a large-sized, monumental painting from the Louvre. The modello must have originated after the bozzetto; it was probably painted in Paris in May 1623, due to controversies which arose around the final version of The Disembarkation at Marseilles.