Artibus et Historiae no. 65 (XXXIII), 2012

252 x 232 mm
ISSN 0391-9064

LUÍS URBANO AFONSO - Eros et Thanatos: The Tomb of King Pedro in Alcobaça and its Wheel of Life and Fortune (1358–1363) (pp. 9–41)

The tragic relationship between Prince Pedro of Portugal (†1367) and Ines de Castro (†1355) is one where Life seems to imitate Art. Their secret love affair, the assassination of Ines by order of Pedro’s father, and the cruel vengeance meted out by Pedro on Ines’ murderers are episodes that recall well-known classical and medieval stories of tragic loves, such as Pyramus and Thisbe or Tristan and Iseult. The Gothic tombs of Pedro and Ines in the Cistercian Abbey of Alcobaça, sculpted between 1358 and 1363, provide several references to this remarkable story of love, hate, revenge and death, using symbols and ideas taken from various iconographical, allegorical and literary traditions, including the Ages of Man and the Wheels of Life and Fortune. Together, these two tombs tell a tragic story of love and death, reshaping and molding a series of artistic and literary models that were very popular in court culture at the time to a specific pair of lovers. Conversely, the rich imagery of the two tombs has substantially contributed to feed the legendary nature of their tragic story. Thus, although Pedro was unable to alter their tragic history, he made these two monuments the foundation of a fertile love story that would become legendary; surpassing the fame of the immortal loves of his own days.

PETER WELLER - A Reassessment in Historiography and Gender: Donatello’s Bronze David in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 43–77)

This essay examines the historiography and gender surrounding Donatello’s bronze David and refutes twentieth-century interpretations of the statue as an instance of intentionally homoerotic art. No single work of Renaissance sculpture has attracted as much argument, with dating, iconography, even the very identity of the figure a subject of scholarly dispute. Arguing from Donatello’s presumed same-sex preference, H. W. Janson, in 1957, maintained in his critical catalogue that the David’s nudity and posture embody a deliberate homoerotic disposition. Janson’s assertion subsequently sparked half a century’s vigorous debate among scholars across disparate methodologies. The case for David’s homoeroticism rests, first, on the figure’s alleged prurient and effeminate physical deportment and, secondly, on the supposition that its iconography is primarily secular – as if primarily religious, Quattrocento sensibilities would have most probably rejected the deliberate eroticizing of such a celebrated ancestor of Christ, venerated in the Gospel according to Mathew. Reviewing in chronological order the historiography in several critical opinions on the David, including the dating and patronage evidence crucial to the argument, this paper contends that the assertion of intentional homoeroticism, assumed from a misleading construal of both the statue’s posture and iconography, is grounded in twentieth-century anachronism.

MARLENE LYNETTE EBERHART - Sensing, Time and the Aural Imagination in Titian’s Venus with Organist and Dog (pp. 79–95)

This article examines the relationships between sensing, imagination and movement in Titian’s canvas of c. 1550, Venus with Organist (and Dog), Prado, n. 420. The author argues that the scene turns on actions activated by sounds, musical and otherwise, to create a witty conversation piece on the depicted actions of the organist, the woman, and the dog. Compared to prior scholarly emphasis on sight and touch, this article draws on recent scholarship in early modern sensory history, anthropology and urban studies as well as the consideration of performative space to draw attention to the lived experience of sound and its representation. This essay, therefore, suggests how one can re-imagine this painting in terms of an unfolding of aural events. In doing so, it illuminates the connections and contradictions existing between sixteenth-century aesthetic debates and interpretations in the scholarly literature.

ANETA GEORGIEVSKA-SHINE - Titian and the Paradoxes of Love and Art in Venus and Adonis (pp. 97–113)

Titian’s Venus and Adonis has long been praised both with regard to its affective complexity and its departure from the representational tradition of this story exemplified by narrative focus on the “leave-taking” of the young hunter from the bed of the goddess.  Building upon seminal studies of scholars like Erwin Panofsky and David Rosand, this essay explores the artist’s emphasis on the vain reach of the goddess towards the leave-taking Adonis as a complex figuration imbued with allusions to several related stories within The Metamorphoses that establish the causes of Venus’s failure. What these recollections ultimately address is the topos of the Virgilian tempus fugit, as well as the inherent melancholia of the sublimation of desire into a work of art.

APRIL OETTINGER - The Lizard in the Study: Landscape and Otium in Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1530) (pp. 115–125)

This essay explores the landscape dimensions of one of Lorenzo Lotto’s most compelling and enigmatic portraits, The Young Man (c. 1530), now housed at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. As in other famous portraits from his principal period in Venice, including Andrea Odoni (1527) and Portrait of a Lady as Lucretia (c. 1533), Lotto’s still unidentified Young Man is set in an interior space, surrounded by objects that embellish his character. Scholarship has focused on constructing the man’s biography from a close reading of the contents in his room, yet the prominent role of the landscape beyond the window and its interplay with elements within the man’s studiolo – namely the green and blue fabrics on his table, the lizard, and the rose petals – still go unnoticed. Through a close examination of the nature metaphors in Lotto’s Young Man in light of contemporary paintings of St. Jerome and romances like the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice, 1499), the present paper aims to expand our understanding of landscape in Lotto’s painting; in particular, ways in which Lotto merged landscape metaphors with portraiture to allude to the gentlemanly ideal of otium and, more broadly, the cultural ethos of the studiolo.

GIANNI PAPI - L’enigma Caroselli (pp. 127–150)

The Enigma of Angelo Caroselli


On the basis of analyses of archival sources and the recently re-emerged documents, the author of the present paper discusses the career and artistic personality of Angelo Caroselli, one of the most mysterious and interesting artists active in the seventeenth century in Rome and Naples, whose work, unfortunately, has so far not received adequate recognition. The paper defines the scope of interest in the early career of Pietro Paolini, while ascribing to Caroselli the Mary and Martha from the Galleria Pallavicini in Rome. In Saint John the Baptist from the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples (a copy of a work painted by Caravaggio for Ottavio Costa, now in Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City) the author finds a possible confirmation of Caroselli’s activity as a copyist of Caravaggio’s paintings. Furthermore, the paper presents new and fascinating examples of his work as a copyist – bordering on forgery – which constituted a characteristic feature of an area of the painter’s occupations, as documented by his biographers: Passeri and Baldinucci. Then, the paper examines stylistic relationship between Caroselli and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, ascribing to the former some works that are close also to the style of the latter, a painter from Viterbo, e.g. the Portrait of a Man from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, or the Holy Family with St Francis from the collection of the bank of Naples, Banca Intesa San Paolo, the latter painting most likely belonging to the Neapolitan period (1616–1623). Apparently, from the same years date also some other works, e.g. the Temptation of St Anthony at the Galleria Silvano Lodi & Due in Milan, the Penitent Saint Mary Magdalene from a private collection and St Sebastian Nursed by Irene from the Koelliker collection. Finally, the author ascribes to Caroselli the last important work, so far, despite its important location rarely considered in connection with this painter, namely The Dream of Saint Romuald at the Palazzo Reale in Naples.

CHRISTIANE HILLE - England’s Apelles and the sprezzatura of Kingship: Anthony van Dyck’s Charles I in the Hunting Field Reconsidered (pp. 151–166)

Focusing on the detail of the king’s protruding elbow in Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Charles I in the Hunting-Field from 1635, the article assesses the much discussed canvas with regard to the painter’s artistic reflection on the material conditions of royal representation – an aspect hitherto left unconsidered. Demonstrating the influence of Baldassare Castiglione and Franciscus Junius on Van Dyck, the article discusses the artist’s reception of the notion of the sprezzatura as both an aesthetic ideal promoted in Italian art theory, and a technical term current in the Northern tradition. Charles I in the Hunting-Field, it is argued, presents an artistic linking of both schools with the visual tradition of the English royal portrait, by which Van Dyck fashioned both a new model of court portraiture and himself as England’s new Apelles.

MICKAËL BOUFFARD - Aristocratic Standing and the Five Positions of French Noble Dance in Portraiture (pp. 167–202)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, dancing masters had a central role in educating European aristocrats in matters related to genteel behavior. The five positions of French noble dance, originally invented for the purposes of choreography, became common ideals of posture both in society and in full-length portraiture. Breaking with previous postural traditions in art, French manners introduced new attitudes for the human figure. In swagger portraiture, a genre whose purpose was to praise the qualities and status of the sitter, the five positions came to serve as markers of nobility and good breeding, and thus contributed to the aesthetic concept of aristocratic life.

BERNICE IAROCCI - Poussin’s Echo and Narcissus: Painting as Lamentation (pp. 203–230)

This paper argues that two aspects of Poussin’s Echo and Narcissus (c. 1625–1630) are particularly crucial to the significance the painting held for its seicento audience: Poussin’s staging of the Narcissus myth as a lamentation tableau, and his inclusion of Echo. The painting comprises two themes that are intertwined and elaborated upon at length in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century interpretations of the myth: the allegorization of both Narcissus and Echo as the desiring soul who, in Neoplatonic terms, seeks to rejoin the divine or, conversely, remains mired in grief and succumbs to illness; and the identification of Narcissus and Echo as lamenting lovers with those who are compelled to make or enjoy works of art. Engaging its viewers by means of its composition and iconography, the Echo and Narcissus would have proposed a dilemma about the truth value of painting, asking if the love for material beauty is merely an end in itself, or if art can provide the impetus for its own transcendence to a spiritually inspired wisdom that releases the soul from a state of yearning, sickness, and despair.

BRENDAN COLE - The Mask of Dionysus. A Reinterpretation of Poussin’s Triumph of Pan (pp. 231–274)

The Triumph of Pan of 1636 is undoubtedly one of the greatest masterpieces by Poussin now hanging in the National Gallery, London. In addition to its remarkably inventive visual poetry, it is a scholarly work of great intelligence that marks a high point in the artist’s career in Rome during the 1630s. The thorough planning that went into its creation, which is evident from the numerous preparatory studies that have survived in various collections, clearly shows Poussin’s care and concern to create a work of distinction, both visually and intellectually.
No fewer than eleven preliminary sketches survive for this work. The meticulous planning and thought that went into the painting therefore suggests that the subject itself must have been of some importance to the artist, and no doubt to his patron as well. However, the intensity of effort, and unique visual impact, of Poussin’s Triumph results in a work that is not easily placed within the repertoire of Poussin’s Dionysian imagery. Despite the fact that it is mostly based on motifs associated with the retinue of Dionysus, the actual narrative of this work is not unequivocally clear and has, therefore, remained largely allusive.
It is worth emphasising that Poussin had an inexhaustible interest in themes relating to the narratives, rites and ceremonies connected with Dionysus, and probably painted more Bacchic scenes than any of his contemporaries. Most of these images closely follow standard narratives derived from classical sources and contemporary mythographies, and can be interpreted accordingly with a relative degree of ease. However, an exception to this has to be Poussin’s Triumph, for which there is no evident literary or figurative source upon which its iconography is derived, and it appears, therefore, to be an entirely original invention on Poussin’s part.
This article re-examines key aspects of the work’s iconography, as well as the context in which it was created in order to offer a more specific interpretation of its narrative. Drawing on classical texts and contemporary mythologies, the author proposes that this work is principally concerned with Dionysus rather than Pan, and suggests that the scene is derivative of celebrations such as the Anthesterian and Lenaean festivals, which were connected with Dionysus, and that it is therefore Dionysus who is represented in the form of the gilded statue at the centre of the work.

JAKUB ADAMSKI - The Pseudo-polygonal Rib Vaults, St. James’ Church in Toruń and the Question of Illusionism in Gothic Architecture (pp. 275–305)

The present paper is devoted to the problem of the so-called pseudo-polygonal vaults in the Gothic architecture, which might be regarded as one of the most striking examples of the medieval architectural illusionism. As a pseudo-polygonal vault such a rib construction is understood, that evokes an impression of a polygonal wall termination in a rectangular interior, usually a choir. The most important distinctive feature of the pseudo-polygonal vault is a tripartite composition of at least one internal elevation; besides, there are two basic types of such coverings. The older one, which originated in the early 12th century in Normandy (church of Saint-Étienne, Caen), is characterized with a radial arrangement of the ribs, which are supported in all the four points of the eastern wall. The second one emerged for the first time in the West-French region of Anjou in the last decades of the 12th century (entrance porch of the former Benedictine abbey at Saint-Florent-les-Saumur), and is characteristic for the triangle corner fields, usually filled with bisectional ribs. St. James’ parish church in the New Town of Toruń in North Poland is described and analyzed here as the most perfect example of the pseudo-polygonal choir arrangement, in which all the architectural details are planned in a way to emphasize the seeming multi-sided termination of the chancel. The church is presented here in the broader background of the North-European brick Gothic architecture, and the Hamburg, Rostock and Lochstedt influences are traced and explained. The paper’s main goal is to introduce the pseudo-polygonal vaults to a broader range of art historians, thanks to the splendid example of St. James’ in Toruń.