Scritti di Stefania Mason
In Honour of Stefania Mason: Palma il Giovane and Pierre Jean Mariette
Stefania Mason has been internationally recognized as the most eminent authority on the art of Jacopo Palma il Giovane (1544–1628). Pierre Jean Mariette (1694–1774), one of the greatest art collectors of the eighteenth century, owned several drawings by Palma. This essay aims to identify Mariette’s sheets and verify whether the attributions of this great connoisseur can be sustained.
The Man of Sorrows and Royal Imaging: the Body Politic and Sovereign Authority in Mid-Fourteenth-Century Prague and Paris
In the fourteenth century, the salvific and Eucharistic meanings of the Man of Sorrows accrued a political dimension that harnessed the figure’s potency for the state. Two of the most powerful rulers of the third quarter of the century used the humble and abased figure of Christ in their sacred art to legitimize and sanctify their sovereignty, shaping their own public images as terrestrial representatives of Christ’s heavenly reign. Examined here are relevant works of art commissioned by Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, and his court, and the Livre de sacre of Charles V Valois of France. That the two Charleses, uncle and nephew, collected holy relics to express both deep piety and their royal prerogatives, and together exchanged confidences in three personal meetings point to the likelihood that their trusting relationship established a new connotation for the Man of Sorrows which marked royal authority.
The Artist and His Double. Portraits of Artists in Seventeenth-Century Venice
‘La scoltura è […] senza comparatione’: Tullio Lombardo and the Narrative Relief
Tullio Lombardo’s approach to narrative relief sculpture was grounded in the debate over the paragone or relative merits of painting versus sculpture, but it was also informed by the example of two earlier masters, with whose work he was well acquainted: Donatello and Andrea Mantegna. In particular, Tullio drew upon elements from both these masters in the design of the Chapel of the Arca del Santo in the basilica of St Anthony in Padua, a project that he began with his brother Antonio in 1500. Tullio’s basic concept of fusing relief sculpture with an architectural perspective stems from Donatello’s bronze reliefs for the high altar of the Santo, and the earlier sculptor remained an important interlocutor for Tullio across his engagement with the relief cycle for the chapel, an engagement only terminated with his death in 1532. The debt to Mantegna is more general, in part because Mantegna’s approach to painting was profoundly influenced by Donatello; yet there were two areas of Mantegna’s oeuvre that served as a crucial example for Tullio and his brother during the 1490s: the canvases of Caesar’s Triumphs and the small-scale paintings in grisaille. These works embodied an ideal of rilievo, which Alberti had described as the goal of painting and sculpture. They demonstrated knowledge of the classical world virtually unrivalled at that time, as well as furnishing a new morphology of figural types saturated in the antique. That the Lombardo brothers were aware of Mantegna’s work is confirmed by a comparison of Mantegna’s drawing after the Calumny of Apelles in the British Museum with a drawing attributed to Antonio Lombardo in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A comparison of the two drawings shows that the Lombardo brothers were familiar with Mantegna’s graphic style and sculptural approach to narratives. In short, Mantegna’s paintings furnished a model for creating figural types and narratives all’antica, without which the sculpture of the Lombardo brothers and their followers would not have developed as it did.
On Donatello as a Wood Sculptor in Padua and His Influence
The wooden carved polychrome Crucifix from the Chiesa dei Servi in Padua, attributed to Donatello, has undergone restoration financed by the Italian Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo. As soon as the restoration works are completed, this piece of an excellent artistic quality will be returned to the church community and to the scholars, in a form it has never been seen before.
After a miraculous bleeding of Christ in 1512, this work of art was considered a thaumaturgic relic and was located in the chapel in cornu Evangelii, built at the expense of Bartolomeo Campolongo. It had remained there until it was taken to the restoration laboratory, where a coat of paint imitating bronze – that had covered the sculpture until 2012 – was removed.
This short essay illustrates the most important features of the Crucifix, advances a hypothesis on the date when the bronze coat of paint was introduced and analyzes some practices connected to this object of worship, venerated until the mid-twentieth century: it was preserved in an altar protected by glass and hidden from sight by a curtain.
Paolo Veronese: Master of Elegance at the French Court in the Seventeenth Century
This paper explores some aspects of the fortune of Paolo Veronese in seventeenth-century France. Although his name is often associated with his skills in large-scale compositions and decoration, with such emblematic paintings as the Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee – gift of the Serenissima to the King of France in 1664 – it appears that Paolo was probably even more appreciated for his elegant and sophisticated representations of female figures. This particular aspect of the critical fortune of Paolo Veronese has been assessed through a broad range of art treatises and paintings in French collections, revealing how these female figures were perceived and admired for their grace, elegance and their representation in harmonious colours.
Observations on the Decoration of the Oratorio della Purità in Udine
It is well known that the Oratory of the Purità in Udine was built following the wishes of Patriarch Daniele Dolfin in order to replace a secular theatre standing on the spot; the new building was inaugurated on 28 June 1760. The story of its decoration, which involved Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo, has been fully studied but not so its iconographic programme attributable to Patriarch Dolfin himself. This essay investigates the contents and symbolism of the wall narratives in the Oratory which were determined by what may be construed as a series of diagonal intersections creating a star-like shape possibly alluding to the Virgin Mary.
A Frieze by Palma il Giovane in Palazzo Grimani di San Luca
After his father Hieronimo’s death in 1570, Marino Grimani, who was to become doge in April 1595, fell responsible for the completion of the magnificent family palace built on the Canale Grande after a project by Michele Sanmicheli. In 1578 Marino ordered a series of paintings by some of the major painters in Venice to adorn his apartment on the first floor of the palace. The payments for these works are still in the family archive, now preserved in the Archivio di Stato of Venice, and were published by this author some twenty years ago. Palma il Giovane figures among the artists involved, and this was his first documented commission, a frieze composed of family portraits and allegories in one of the principal rooms. New research has uncovered the major part of these portraits, which prove very useful in understanding the painter’s style in the first years of his career. They also bear witness to the political and cultural ambitions of the patron who ordered them.
«Gran forza et gran vivacità». Understanding Antonello da Messina in Venetian Collecting of the Renaissance through the Papers of Marcantonio Michiel
One of the earliest sources for Antonello da Messina’s paintings is the valuable manuscript written by Marcantonio Michiel and entitled Notizia d’opere di disegno (Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana). Beginning in 1521, Michiel took over twenty years to add to his opus magnum. The manuscript shows evidence of many layers and kinds of writing and employs different types of ink, indicating that the material was continually updated and amended. An examination of the document leads to new insights, especially concerning Michiel’s description of Antonello’s Saint Jerome in his study (London, The National Gallery) and two of the artist’s portraits dated 1475 once in the home of Antonio Pasqualini, a wealthy Venetian merchant.
Archival research together with an investigation of literary sources encourages new readings of Antonello’s paintings and their Venetian patrons and owners. Analyzing and comparing the cartellini and labels on these works calls for new interpretations. Such is the case for example of the Portrait of a Young Man (Berlin, Staatliche Museen) formerly in the Widmann and Vitturi collections in Venice whereby a new proposal can be suggested by identifying the source of the moralizing inscription at the bottom edge of the panel. New research also sanctions the correction and integration of previously known information on the basis of the valuable Manoscritti Francesconi.
Claudio Ridolfi Between Jacopo Palma and Federico Barocci
Composition, Gesture and Meaning in an Early Painting by Veronese
Veronese’s very early canvas in the London National Gallery, now generally believed to represent the Conversion of Mary Magdalene, exhibits compositional devices and formal preferences favoured by the artist throughout his working life and several of these are analysed in the article. The prominent hand gestures are also typical of the artist; they relate closely to gestures in other early paintings and this leads to a discussion of the significance of repeated gestures and their meanings in different contexts. The article concludes with a reconsideration of its subject matter and a reconsideration of the case for the painting representing the healing of the woman ‘with an issue of blood’ who touched the hem of Christ’s garment.
Four Early Drawings by Domenico Tintoretto
This essay publishes four drawings as belonging to Domenico Tintoretto’s youthful period when, alternatively, he collaborated with his father or worked independently. The author substantiates assigning the first of the four sheets to Domenico (its current whereabouts unknown) as first advanced by Hans Tietze and Erika Tietze-Conrat who recognized its connection with Joachim Expelled from the Temple in San Trovaso. Similarly, the altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin in San Giorgio Maggiore is also entirely by Domenico, and a drawing in the Uffizi (Gabinetto dei disegni e stampe) can be associated with him. The third sheet (Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts) is Domenico’s study of a head dating to the 1590s and characterized by the intense facial expressivity typical of the artist. The last drawing (Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen) once bore an attribution to Veronese, but it is here given to Domenico as a preparatory study for his portraits of seated women which were among his greatest successes of the 1590s. Domenico continued to produce such sheets for the rest of his career, but rarely were they as successful as this one.
The Collector’s Eye: Viewing Veronese’s Chiaroscuro Drawings in Late Sixteenth-Century Venice
Modern scholarship has assumed that Veronese’s own words and ideas are recorded in a series of inscriptions on the versos of some elaborate chiaroscuro drawings. These autonomous drawings include a group of religious allegories that were originally at least six in number, some of which were admired by Carlo Ridolfi when in the Muselli collection in Verona. Although Ridolfi apparently recorded the inscriptions on three of the Muselli drawings, there are significant differences between his account and the actual inscriptions. A number of secular allegories also bear inscriptions on the versos in the same handwriting. This article argues that these inscriptions were written by a patrician collector who may have been a patron of Veronese, and who assembled a book of drawings that would give delight to lovers of ‘virtù’. His free-flowing reflections recorded in the inscriptions were stimulated by close scrutiny of the drawings, but were based on his visual memory of these and other sources; they were not intended as accounts of the iconography of the drawings. His thoughtful comments reveal aspects such as his theological interests and his moral sense of the responsibilities of noblemen. Although the collector’s precise identity cannot presently be established, I suggest that his inscriptions provide insights into the conversations of virtuosi as they looked at drawings and other works of art in the intimate sociability of the Venetian studio or collection.