252 x 232 mm
IN THIS ISSUE - SPECIAL ARTICLES
KONRAD OBERHUBER IN MEMORIAM (1935-2007). PART II
252 x 232 mm
IN THIS ISSUE - SPECIAL ARTICLES
KONRAD OBERHUBER IN MEMORIAM (1935-2007). PART II
Konrad Oberhuber and Poussin
In 1988 in Fort Worth, Texas, Konrad Oberhuber organised an exhibition devoted to the first years of Nicolas Poussin’s Roman period. The show was accompanied by a monographic catalogue. Over twenty years afterwards, Pierre Rosenberg re-examines this — now classic — catalogue, concentrating mostly on the new discoveries that augmented our knowledge of Poussin’s oeuvre.
Michelangelo’s Resurrected Christ: The First Version of the Sculpture and the Young Bernini
It was probably already in 1512 that the young Roman patrician Metello commissioned Michelangelo to carve a statue of resurrected Christ for the funerary chapel of his aunt Marta Porcari. Michelangelo started to work on the sculpture in 1514 but quickly abandoned it, when he came across a black vein near the nose. The statue has been re-discovered only recently and is interpreted as an earlier version of the statue for S. Maria sopra Minerva, executed by Michelangelo around 1519/1520. Michelangelo’s drawing, now in Munich, seems to be a preparatory sketch for this earlier version, as it still takes into account the slightly flatter block of marble, originally destined for the figures of Prisoners in the tomb of Julius II, and less expansive gestures. The altar to which the statue belonged was dedicated to Resurrection, and in both versions the shroud indeed falls down to show Christ completely naked, as it was the case only in the moment of the Resurrection. Still in the early seventeenth century the block had been substantially re-worked, and at that so clumsily that Michelangelo’s nephew sold the sculpture for the mere value of the material to Marques Giustiniani. This patron of Caravaggio and of many other talented artists, seems to have commissioned the young Bernini, who in 1618 had volunteered to do the job, to finish the sculpture slightly later, and apparently destined it for the chapel of his family, located in the vicinity of Michelangelo’s Christ. Bernini changed the disposition of the left arm and decidedly distanced himself from Michelangelo’s artistic language, in that he employed his own idiom which was closer to nature, modelled on Hellenistic sculpture, and apparently influenced by Caravaggio and the religious sentiment of the Caracci. It would seem that Bernini wanted to match Michelangelo whose statue would have been visible from the same standpoint in the church. Yet, Giustiniani must have had doubts about Christ’s total nudity and decided to keep the statue in his palace. It was only after his death that the figure found its way into a church whose construction was begun by Giustiniani, located in his estate in Bassano Sutri north of Rome.
Hieronymus van Aken (Aachen) named himself “Bosch” after his home-city s’-Hertogenbosch. For his depictions of hell with human beings tormented by demons and monstrous beasts he was famous already in his lifetime. Until today the fascination and interpretation of his pictorial world overshadows the elucidation of his artistic idiom and capacity. This probably may cause the many contradictory attributions and opinions concerning authenticity and chronology of his work.
The Dresden double-sided drawing of St. John with the Virgin on the recto and St Magdalen on the verso, ranks among the most puzzling works on paper, discussed and attributed to Hieronymus Bosch. On the basis of stylistic analysis and the development of the figurative composition the present paper tries to establish the drawing’s art-historical position: its drawing-style, in pen and ink, corresponds with a series of apostles, copies after Jan van Eyck from the 1440s, and is also reflected in the mid-fifteenth-century Utrecht miniature grisaille technique, while the specific arrangement of St. John and the Virgin is closely linked to the French manuscript painting, like the Rohan Hours from the mid-1430s. This, together with the watermark which points to the paper of Louvain origin from about 1425/30, speaks for an execution of the drawing in the southern Netherlands around 1430–1440; it has nothing in common with Hieronymus Bosch.
A New Reading of Correggio’s Frescoes
The present article is based on the book: Gli affreschi di Correggio (The frescoes of Correggio, Milan, 2008) by Maria Cristina Chiusa. The author proposes a re-reading of the three cycles of frescoes done by Correggio in Parma: for the Camera di San Paolo and for the domes of the church of St John Evangelist and in Parma cathedral, Santa Maria Assunta. Thanks to recent renovations, this new investigation allows for a new reading and analysis of the individual pieces of paintings done by the artist, pointing to the heart of Corrreggio’s art. While retracing Christian and pagan elements in the work of the artist, the essay opens with a discussion about the parallel of the antique in Allegri’s art, an interpretation which questions the real value of the nuditas in the sacred and mythological representations of the painter.
This article explores the nature and extent of Amico Aspertini’s response to the art of his own time, and in particular proposes a re-dating to a decade and more later of his contribution to the fresco cycle in the Oratorio di Santa Cecilia in Bologna on the basis of a borrowing from Raphael’s Spasimo di Sicilia.
The article attempts to chronicle that illustrious art historian’s particular evolution as an ever-provocative investigator of the meaning of drawings. In particular, it tracks his development in his teaching career in America, beginning with his highly instructive and important publications on early Italian prints and drawings for the National Gallery in 1973, and moving through his many different seminars devoted to exhibitions of drawing collections at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. In a methodical way, he continued to expand the questions he asked of drawings, ever anxious to excavate the myriad messages these documents could convey. Such was the magic of his message.
Stefano della Bella and Leonardo
The general interest of Stefano della Bella in the art of Leonardo da Vinci is documented in codex MS. 2275 of Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence, signed and dated 1630 by the artist. In this manuscript have been copied the text and illustrations of the so-called “abbreviated version” of Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting. The codex is well-known both in the literature on the writings of Leonardo and on Stefano della Bella, also thanks to the now rare edition, published by Francesco Fontani in Florence in 1792, which reproduced with minor changes the text of the manuscript and its illustrations (in the form of tracings). The codex poses several problems which so far have been confronted only in part, and usually as a part of other arguments. Therefore it would seem worthwhile to finally and thoroughly sum up the state of research, e.g. on the occasion of a complete, fully illustrated, critical edition of the manuscript. Uncertain is the purpose of Stefano’s copying of the Treaty. He probably did that for his own study and exercise. Still unknown is which copy he used from among the many transcripts of the Leonardesque text that were in circulation at that time in Florence. He may have employed the so-called Berti-Pagani codex (Belt Library), known also to Furini, or some other copy. The relationship of Stefano’s manuscript to other contemporary copies, and the resulting differences, has been examined only occasionally, especially with regard to the images executed by Furini and Poussin. The actual impact of this Leonardesque experience on the subsequent work of della Bella is still to be determined.
With such a wealth of problems, the present article is limited to giving some hints, and particularly makes use of the complete set of figurative illustrations executed by Stefano on the basis of various copies of the Treaty, pointing to some more or less evident influences of them in his drawings, prints or paintings dating from the period after 1630. It is worth noting that he, unlike other contemporary artists, copied personally Leonardo’s text but did not repeat it faithfully in detail. Therefore his approach to Leonardo is based not only on his images, repeated after the manuscripts almost universally in a schematic fashion, but on his thoughts as well. He did not learn from them the principles of the infinite possibilities of figure movements but, above all, their arrangement in space and the effects of light in the atmosphere, which he later used to naturalistically render his figures and the play of light and shade in his etchings.
Some Observations on the Practice of Retouching Drawings. The Case of the Drawings in the Jabach Collection at the Louvre Reconsidered
Having had the occasion to establish the importance of alterations that affected the drawings forming a part of what is called “dessins d’ordonnance” in the collection of Everard Jabach in the Louvre, the author returns to that subject, this time dealing with laboratory photographs of the drawings. The photographs clearly show some reworking in the drawings by Lorenzo Lotto, Paolo Farinati and Giorgio Vasari. The aim of the present article is to focus the attention of the scholars again on the importance of taking those alterations into account while preparing records or technical descriptions of the works, as well as in the accompanying comments. It is not the question of diminishing the aesthetic value of a drawing but to precisely record all we can see. Laboratory examinations are, of course, exceptional and available to specialists, but the use of the eyes, simple examination in raking light and with the help of lighted magnifying glass, are available to everyone. In the Louvre every drawing called “d’ordonnance” from the Jabach collection should be examined with circumspection. The problem, of course, regards by no means only this collection or only the holdings of the Louvre. This awareness should be a reminder that drawings should be examined very carefully.
The founders and editors of Pan, German periodical, first published in April/May of 1895 in Berlin, strove for nothing less than the complete reinvigoration of culture and the confutation of mediocrity and utilitarianism. Fighting on all fronts — graphic, literary, scholarly, and journalistic — they eschewed both trivia and convenience, thereby serving to elevate the techniques and expressive potential of all of these disciplines to unprecedented heights of achievement. Their plan was carefully contrived and meticulously executed, and its success carried the periodical triumphantly to the threshold of the twentieth century.
Pan’s greatest contribution was its passionate and unswerving commitment to absolute ideals of beauty and truth in a cultural climate of decadence on the one hand, and complacent mediocrity on the other. Paradoxically, Germany’s nihilistic prophet Nietzsche had succeeded in paving the way for an international invigoration of European civilization. Pan stands as a testament to the vision of its “sublime ones” — its creators, founders, editors, and contributors. To open the volumes of this literary and artistic time capsule is to unlock the forgotten treasures of a Pandora’s box, the richness of which has only now begun to reveal itself in the all-embracing noonday light of postmodernism.
Some Remarks and New Hypotheses Concerning the Drawings of Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta in the Uffizi
While skimming through the bibliography on Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, one is astonished to see that, even considering the most recent contributions, the corpus of the drawings of the artist remains rather small. There exist only about twenty sheets against Siciolante’s extensive activity as a painter during four decades, across various regions of central Italy, principally in Rome. However, drawing exercise was vital for Siciolante; he used that medium not only as an aid while preparing larger compositions but also to note some detailed solutions.
Surprising is also the fact that among the drawings recognised today more or less securely as the works of Siciolante, there are still a few, whose attribution is traditional. The majority of the sheets which nowadays constitute the corpus of the artist was discovered under names of other artists, or in collections of anonymous works, and the attributions to Siciolante are due to various scholars: Philip Pouncey, Berenice Davidson and Konrad Oberhuber, among others.
Mantegna as Printmaker
For the convenience of the passionate lovers of Mantegna, one of whom Konrad Oberhuber was, the author re-published here, with minor corrections and amendments, his text drawn up for the exhibition catalogue of Mantegna’s prints prepared at the Galleria L’Arte Antica by Silverio Salamon, in Turin (May–June 2008), which had a very limited circulation.
Venetian Vigour: Andrea Vicentino and His modelli
The production of oil sketches or modelli by Andrea Vicentino (Vicenza, 1542? — Venice, 1617?) is characterised by a great variety, both in terms of technique and of function. This essay explores this phenomenon and brings to the attention three unpublished works — painted modelli for the large canvases depicting the Miracle of the Porzioncola in the Basilica dei Frari, Venice, the Raising of Lazarus in the National Museum of Arts in Malta, and a delicately executed Entombment, known only from a photograph kept in the archives of the Dutch Institute in Florence.
A Touchstone of a “Penetrating Eye”: Marcello Venusti’s St Catherine in the Lavater Collection
The collection assembled by Johann Caspar Lavater († 1801), a parson, physiognomist and writer from Zurich, is a perfect example of the “bourgeois” collections that became increasingly popular during the eighteenth century. Lavater’s “Kabinett” is today in the Austrian National Library; this paper proposes the attribution of one of its Old Master drawings to Marcello Venusti (1512–1579), and connects it with both an earlier ink drawing and the finished altarpiece in the Roman church of S. Agostino. In the mid-sixteenth century Venusti was among the leading artists in Rome, famous, among other things, for executing drawings in oil for Michelangelo.
From a Preparatory Drawing to an Icon: Albrecht Dürer’s Drawing The Praying Hands and the History of its Changing Functions
Since the early twentieth century, the motif of the Praying Hands, a drawing by Albrecht Dürer preserved in the Albertina, has not only adorned baptism and confirmation certificates, as well as commemorative coins, in the form of countless reproductions, but — translated into reliefs and sculpted works — has also found its way into the market for devotional objects. The fame associated with Dürer’s masterpiece has contributed to the fact that today the Albertina is considered one of the most important Dürer collections worldwide, preserving not only Dürer’s complete printed oeuvre, but also the most important holdings of the master’s spectacular drawings.
By looking into the sheet’s genesis and provenance, the present article traces back the various changes in function the drawing saw in the course of its 500-year history: originally meant to study a detail, it was made by Dürer as a model to assist him and his workshop in the preparation of an altarpiece. Later on, dubious commercial interests led to manipulations in the drawing that certainly would not have met with Dürer’s approval and which would contradict the proper handling of works of art in a museum today. However, the sheet’s ambiguous fate has additionally charged the motif with religious meaning and has thus encouraged its further commercialization. The Albertina’s responsible curators and conservators therefore try to strike a balance between the motif’s reasonable and modest merchandising and the intensified conservational attention directed at the work.
Jacopo Strada (1515–1588) is probably best known for his concern with antiquarianism and architecture. But like many other artists, scholars, and entrepreneurs of his day, Strada had interests that may be described as encyclopedic, ranging from his effort to compile a polyglot dictionary, to his assembling books of designs for goldsmiths’ works, to his compilation of a book on mills. Many of these interests were represented in a large corpus of drawings, some of which Strada had collected from a number of important sources, including the workshops of Perino del Vaga and Giulio Romano, and which along with these original drawings consisted mainly of drawings after his own designs, largely known from multiple copies, either made by himself or by assistants or others he commissioned to do the work. Strada’s corpus served in the preparation of manuscripts made by his workshop and by other draftsmen that were presented to illustrious patrons, what Strada called libri di disegni; they also were intended to be the basis for an immense project to publish a series of books on a variety of subjects. Among these drawings are designs for costumes and related trappings for animals; some woodcuts that can be demonstrated to have been made after Strada’s inventions also represent his festival designs.
A volume in the manuscript collections of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, provides the most direct evidence for Strada’s engagement in various sorts of festivities, including processions, dance, fireworks, banquets, musical performances, as well as tournaments, frequently held at the Habsburg courts in Central Europe during the sixteenth century. The manuscript contains drawings for costumes that are executed in pen and brown ink, many with brown wash, and in eight cases with watercolor. Since the discovery and first publication of the festival drawings in Vienna over thirty years ago, these designs have occasionally been described or mentioned in subsequent scholarship on Strada, and have been noted in relation to the prints by Amman. They have often been associated in particular with a tournament held in Vienna in 1571. A recent publication of some documents from the Mantuan archives allows for a general revision of the assessment and attribution of Strada’s festival designs.
During the episcopal rule of Archbishop Józef Teodorowicz, in the years 1902–1938, and on his initiative, the Armenian cathedral in Lvov, a church dating back to the fourteenth century, underwent a complex restoration and refurbishment. As an outcome, all previous historical layers that had accumulated in the building over the centuries had been thoroughly removed, so that its ‘original’ Armenian features could be revealed. Additionally, some arbitrary, new, allegedly Armenian elements had been introduced to the cathedral building, e.g. the blind arcading on the external walls of the apses, designed by Jan Bo³oz Antoniewicz, modelled on a similar decoration on the façades of the cathedral in Ani, the former Armenian capital. This decoration was clearly meant to emphasise the Armenian pedigree of the building, and thus to underscore the ethnic uniqueness and singularity of the then already well-assimilated Armenian population of Lvov, present in the city for many centuries.
In the years 1908–1910 the building was extended to the west, according to the plans of Franciszek M¹czyñski, whereas still in 1907 Józef Mehoffer had prepared designs for its mural decoration, of which only mosaics in the dome were executed in 1912–1913. Mehoffer’s design was, however, a complex one, and encompassed the decoration of all surfaces of walls and vaults of the cathedral’s old part. The artist, according to the explicit wishes of the Archbishop, closely adhered to old-Armenian models — above all, the miniatures of the Skevra Gospels (also known as the ‘Gospels of Lvov’), a twelfth-century Armenian illuminated manuscript held at that time in the cathedral treasury. Additionally, again in agreement with the Archbishop, Mehoffer travelled to the library of the Mekhitharists (Armenian monks) in their monastery on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro to see and copy miniatures from their rich holdings of illuminated manuscripts, as well as to Venice and Ravenna to learn the art of the mosaics. The design of 1907 and the mosaics executed five years later were precisely the result of those experiences.
Other artists employed later at the decoration of the cathedral, whose projects had not been executed, also resorted to the old-Armenian miniatures. The preserved documents show that the Archbishop consciously wanted to revive the Armenian spirit in the cathedral by turning to old-Armenian art, and wished that modern artists created pieces of contemporary art using medieval miniatures as a source of inspiration.
A detailed examination of all three undertakings (apse decoration, architectural features of the extension, as well as Mehoffer’s design for the interior decoration) leave no doubts that, although the renovation of the cathedral was necessary because the building was in a poor state of repair, the renovation and decoration were aimed principally at its re-Armenisation, that is, at restoring the church’s original Armenian character that had been lost over the centuries of the influence of Western culture.
Goya and Vienna
In the spring of 1908 the Galerie Miethke showed the first retrospective of Goya in Vienna: eighteen paintings, more than fifty drawings and the complete graphic works were united — unfortunately without a catalogue. This seminal event has not been noticed so far by the ‘Goya-Forschung’, and even Nigel Glendinning does not mention it in his famous Goya and his Critics. The only serious review of the exhibition was written by Ludwig Hevesi and published in the Wiener Fremdenblatt newspaper on 13 May. This exhibition had a strong impact on the artistic world, as I presume. This can be traced in the works of Kokoschka and Kubin, who both discovered the visual metaphors of suffering and distortion in the work of the great Spanish master, and used them as weapons against the saturated taste of the Imperial capital, known for easy-going life and superficial embellishments.
Kokoschka’s art emerged from the refinement of the Secessionists (Klimt). In 1908 it left the secureness of stylization to proceed towards the realms suffering and mutilation. This is how Kokoschka renewed the meaning of religious themes, like the Pieta. Kubin, on the other hand, followed Goya into the abyss of human depravity and self-destruction. His universe was nothing but a sequence of variations on cruelty mixed with sadistic terror.
These very aspects distinguished Austrian modernism from its German counterpart which was much less preoccupied with dark sides of human existence, and it is to these dimensions that Goya had opened the doors.