Artibus et Historiae no. 60 (XXX), 2009

252 x 232 mm
ISSN 0391-9064

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EDWARD J. OLSZEWSKI - Bring on the Clones: Pollaiuolo's Battle of Ten Nude Men (pp. 9—38)

This study interprets Pollaiuolo's engraving of the Battle of Ten Nude Men as an episode from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, in which the hero battled soldiers springing from the dragon's teeth he had planted as part of a trial. These earth-born warriors in Apollonius's Argonautica were identified by Petrus Berchorius as just men who battle the evil in each other. Pollaiuolo depicted the figures as clones of Jason based on Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica, which reported them as mistaking each other for Jason because charmed by Medea. The print is dated to Rome after 1489, the date of publication of Berchorius's Moralized Ovid, and of the discovery of a Roman marble prototype used by Pollaiuolo for his composition. It is attributed to Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere as patron.

JANET COX-REARICK - Power-Dressing at the Courts of Cosimo de' Medici and François I: The "moda alla spagnola" of Spanish Consorts Eléonore d'Autriche and Eleonora di Toledo (pp. 39—70)

At the courts of sixteenth-century Europe clothing was worn to declare the wearer's political allegiance, and the dominance of Emperor Charles V after 1520 led to a widespread adoption of Hispanic court attire. The Spanish consorts, Eléonore d'Autriche, Queen of France, and Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence, projected the message of imperial allegiance by wearing Spanish attire after their marriages in 1530 and 1539. This article argues that the "Two Eleonoras" represented two sides of the Imperial coin: Eléonore's power-dressing alla spagnola was an assertion of her imperial pedigree and political connections as a player in the rivalry between her husband, King François I, and her brother, Charles V, while Eleonora di Toledo's power-dressing alla spagnola supported the imperial loyalty of Duke Cosimo de' Medici, an ambitious vassal whom the emperor had elevated to the dukedom of Florence in 1537.

Eléonore's Spanish clothing was disapproved of by her husband as expressing imperial loyalty and she was forced to abandon it about 1536. On the other hand, the courtly style worn by Duchess Eleonora for official events created and communicated her public image as a Spanish duchess of Florence and it would play a leading role in Duke Cosimo's cultural politics for two decades. Her style was widely imitated and the cycle of Spanish influence on Florentine court dress thus continued beyond her lifetime and into the next century.

At the heart of this study is a rich variety of visual evidence, with close attention given to the painted and drawn portraits of Eléonore d'Autriche and Eleonora di Toledo. Literary evidence analyzed here includes new archival documentation about Eleonora di Toledo's clothing, chroniclers' accounts of entrées and other public appearances, and comments in conduct literature. Drawing extensively on modern studies of Renaissance court costume, this essay reveals for the first time the contrasting ways in which the French queen and the Italian duchess fashioned their public images through their Spanish-inflected dress.

KRISTIN A. TRIFF - Rhetoric and Romanitas in Thirteenth-Century Rome: Nicholas III and the Sancta Sanctorum (pp. 71—106)

Among the numerous projects commissioned by pope Nicholas III Orsini (1277—1280), the design and decoration of the chapel of San Lorenzo at San Giovanni in Laterano, known as the Sancta Sanctorum, signaled a new direction in papal patronage. Unlike the projects of his predecessors, which celebrated the office of the papacy rather than the person of the pope, the decoration of the Sancta Sanctorum emphasized the quasi-Imperial romanitas, or Roman lineage and authority, of Nicholas himself, marking a new emphasis upon personal and familial aggrandizement that prefigured trends in later papal patronage.

One fresco in particular, the Crucifixion of St. Peter, should be recognized as the earliest topographically specific view of Rome, depicting Orsini-occupied monuments in a Roma Ursina dominated by Nicholas III and his family. Through close examination of topographical, historical, and literary sources, the present study presents new identifications of several of the monuments in the fresco, correcting a longstanding error regarding the identity of the obelisk in the scene.

Finally, it demonstrates that this fresco established the rhetorical and pictorial topoi for subsequent Petrine crucifixion scenes, including those of Giotto, Cimabue, Deodati Orlandi, and Jacopo di Cione.

JEAN K. CADOGAN - The Chapel of the Holy Belt in Prato: Piety and Politics in Fourteenth-Century Tuscany (pp. 107—138)

Since the thirteenth century September 8th, the birthday of the Virgin, has been celebrated in Prato with the public display of her Holy Belt. In this paper I focus on the ceremony of the ostentation and its setting, the chapel built at the end of the fourteenth century and still in use. While seemingly a purely religious event, the ostentation evolved into a civic ritual imbued with political significance. The ceremony and its setting both reflected and shaped Prato's identity as guardian of the Sacred Belt by providing a focus for community pride and religious devotion, and by construction and sustaining social memory. At the same time, the mural decoration of the chapel, painted by the Florentine artist Agnolo Gaddi between 1392 and 1395, celebrated the civic identity of the commune while alluding to the political reality of Prato's absorption into the Florentine regional state.

MOJMÍR FRINTA - Observation on Michel Sittow (pp. 139—156)

In the ouvre of Michel Sittow, it is the portrait of a beautiful young lady in Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, that becomes a candidate for intense search. The proposed identification with Princess Catherine of Aragon somehow acquired an almost general acceptance but an analysis of the only three small details used for bracing the hypothesis, reveals their fragility. One is the letter "K" cast and carved alternatively with a rosette on a necklace of the lady. It is held to stand for Catherine and the other for the rose of Tudor. The third monogram adorning the center of her white undershirt in the broad neckline is even more unclear and might even be a ligature of two letters and not a "C". Our search takes us to the portions painted on the outer surfaces of the wings of the Passion triptych commissioned by the Fraternity of St. Anthony in Reval which is not accorded a more coverage in the discussion of Sittow's ouvre that is deserves.

At the end, contemplation of the phenomenon of ideal feminine beauty created in three related images (Vienna, Berlin, Detroit) is given still a larger dosage of the hypothetical in an attempt to involve in the creation of this beauty Michel's father Clawes van der Sittow and a remarkable, strongly Netherlandish-inspired painting in Iserlohn, Westphalia.

ROSAMOND E. MACK, MOHAMED ZAKARIYA - The Pseudo-Arabic on Andrea del Verrocchio's David (pp. 157—172)

This article examines the design and the execution of the pseudo-Arabic inscriptions on the tunic of Verrocchio's bronze David, as well as the genesis and significance of such Islamic style garments in Italian Renaissance art. Verrocchio's letter shapes derive from the cursive Arabic script commonly used in contemporary Egyptian and Syrian art, but only a few letters are recognizable among the small repertory of forms and patterns that Verrocchio recombined and repeated. His likely models were Islamic or Italian pseudo-Arabic. Like other Italian pseudo-Arabic, which varied by artist, Verrocchio's conveys no linguistic information. The representation of sacred figures in garments decorated with bands of pseudo-Arabic originated in Tuscany during the second half of the thirteenth century among the pioneers of Renaissance style. Inspired by prestigious textiles and garments of the Holy Land, the Italian versions were invented for expressive purposes: to place persons and events in the East during biblical and early Christian times. Because the Tuscan pioneers also used the same pseudo-script to represent the writing of those times, they intended it to be recognized as such. It is proposed that the scholarship and legend of Saint Jerome contributed to a widespread European misbelief in the antiquity of written Arabic. In Tuscany, furthermore, the popular painted wooden cult statues, which were often dressed luxuriously for feast days and processions, could have promoted a strong mental and visual association between Islamic textiles and the Holy Family and the saints.

PAVEL KALINA - European Diplomacy, Family Strategies, and the Origins of Renaissance Architecture in Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 173—190)

The diffusion of Renaissance forms in Central and Eastern Europe was enabled by varied factors. One of them was the development of early modern diplomacy with its system of permanent residents who were able to report about all important aspects of individual local powers, including their representation through art and architecture. This web of reports, in combination with the new visual media and humanist education, enabled the emergence of a 'global' visual language.

Further, the use of new architectural forms and typologies could be a result of strictly political considerations. For Matthias Corvinus, their application resulted from his effort to legitimize his power and to show himself as the proper Emperor. For Ivan III, the invitation of Italian masters was probably dictated by his will to represent different traditions in order to express the universal claims of the ascending power of the Muscovite state. The seat of Vladislav Jagiello in Prague was rebuilt in Renaissance forms after reaching a political appeasement between the king and the Pope. Similarly, the proper reason why the Renaissance was not long accepted by the Jagiellonian court in Cracow could be its strong association both with the personality of Matthias Corvinus and with the Papal curia, whose diplomatic activities were rather hostile towards the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at that time.

Thus, the arrival of Renaissance in the Central and Eastern Europe seems to be rather a result of political calculations based on the needs of dynastic representation than an automatic process.

MARILYN ARONBERG LAVIN - Art of the Misbegotten: Physicality and the Divine in Renaissance Images (pp. 191—244)

Many works of Italian art discussed here, at first glance, seem to concern bodily functions — elimination, masturbation, copulation and the like. Yet they were made by artists who followed the rules of the profession: legally contracted for; made to serve a specific purpose; and destined to be seen in public. While the works are eye-catching because they involve the display sex organs and/or sexual activity, they have ulterior meanings of a higher order than at first appears. In fact, the suggestive actions depicted incorporate a self-confident vision of religion, learning, and social interaction that is fundamental to what is new in the Renaissance.

WENDY BIRD - Goya and the Menippus Satire: New Light on The Strolling Players, Yard with Madmen and Later Works (pp. 245—270)

A sign bearing the inscription "ALEG. MEN." in Goya's The Strolling Players is generally believed to be an abbreviation of Alegoría menandrea ("Menandrean Allegory"), an attribution that has contributed nothing towards our understanding of the painting. This article demonstrates that the sign stands for Alegoría menipea (Menippean Allegory), and explores the meaning of The Strolling Players in this light. The Menippus satire was an important satirical genre in Spanish literature from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, forming part of a cultural tradition with which Goya was familiar. The carnivalesque nature of the Menippus satire relates strongly to imagery that is common in Goya's work.

At first sight the scene suggests an obscene carnivalesque satire on the Spanish Bourbon king Charles IV, his queen María Luisa and their favourite Godoy, based on popular rumours. However, the use of the term "allegory" attests to a further underlying meaning. Given the importance of the turbulent events that coincided with the work, the French Revolution and the regicide of Louis XVI, The Strolling Players, may well represent the French Bourbon king, his queen Marie Antoinette and Godoy, who failed in his attempt to save them from the guillotine.

A relationship is drawn between events referred to in the French Satyre Ménipée of 1593, a carnivalesque text supporting the first French Bourbon king, Henry IV and the events surrounding the execution of the last French Bourbon king, Louis XVI. It is suggested that Goya's Yard with Madmen is a pendant to The Strolling Players, representing the 'world upside-down' of the French Revolution.

AVIGDOR W. G. POSEQ - A Proposal for Rembrandt's Two Versions of Slaughtered Ox (pp. 271—276)

Rembrandt's in the Louvre and its earlier version in the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum has been the subject various interpretations, ranging from an attempt to relate the pictures to the artist's financial difficulties or to a search for potential literary sources in the Old and the New Testaments. A careful consideration of the seldom noted female personages which appear in both pictures allows a keener insight of the intense emotional meaning which each of the two paintings had for the master.

ANDREI NAKOV - Is critica d'arte a Relic of the Past? On the New Definition of the Image — Victim of a Misinterpreted Russian Avant-Garde (277—288)

The point of departure for this article is the alarming increase in recent incorrect, if not fraudulent, attributions of Russian avant-garde paintings (see the scandal of January 2009 at the "Alexandra Exter" exhibition at the Château de Tours in France). Setting aside the fact that source documents on the subject are scarce and reference works very few, the author investigates the problem of the danger threatening the very notion of the imago princeps, the original, being more and more obscured by the use of digital images which can be manipulated freely and practically without restrictions. The recent example of the digital reproduction of the Wedding at Cana of Paolo Veronese, a procedure praised by sociologists, is criticised here using the theoretical apparatus of art history.

The manipulation of documents, which should constitute another kind of originals of reference, has also been facilitated by digital reproduction techniques, and art historians should be made aware of that new danger. The present paper gives several instances to illustrate this problem, including the erroneous attribution of a "blue relief" to Tatlin, an attribution which has not long ago exploited the authority of the Burlington Magazine (issue of January 2008).

The critical considerations presented in the paper go far beyond mere "attributionism". They open a broad new field of reflexion, which hitherto has been prey to tabloid newspapers only.