Nicolas Froment’s Burning Bush Triptych and Its Iconographical Program
The Burning Bush triptych by the fifteenth-century French painter Nicolas Froment allows a triple thematic reading involving, in addition to the Burning Bush, allusions to the revelations to St. Joachim and St. Joseph. These three themes are closely linked to typological inter-pretations regarding Christ’s genealogy and, by extension, the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin which appeared frequently in the illustrations of the Biblia Pauperum and the Specu-lum humanae salvationis from the fourteenth century on. The interpretation of the genealogy of Christ is found in the Breviare Romanum, the possible source for the inscription taken from Exodus 111:2 at the bottomof the central panel, which is in accordance with the text of the Book of Hours in front of the donor in the right-hand panel (Ecclesiastes 24:11); and in the Missale Romanum, in which the text of Proverbs 8:22–35, part of which is shown at the top of the panel, is followed by the account given by St. Joseph, husband of Mary, of Messianic ge-nealogy in Matthew 1:1–16. The blessing bestowed by Moses on Joseph, son of Israel, in Deuteronomy 33:13-16, corresponds closely to Jacob’s blessing in Genesis IXL:22-26 in its reference to the twelve tribes of Israel — which are represented by the figures framing the central panel —and thus could be the primary source for the thematic coupling of Moses and St. Joseph.
Hieronymus Bosch’s Four Afterlife Panels in Venice
The fourth of the Afterlife panels by Hieronymus Bosch in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice presents a visionary scene of human souls ascending towards a tunnel leading to a glowing Heavenly Paradise. The depiction of an awaiting worid of light is consistent with the testimonies of people who have returned from the threshold of death. It is in marked contrast to the first panel, in which demons draw the Damned into the depths of Hell. However, the order of the panels proposed in this article, with the tunnel at the far right, would appear to offer man a note of hope.
The Crucifixes of Tilman Riemenschneider
Examined here are some of the superb crucifixes carved by the great late Gothic sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, including examples which have been lost as well as those that have come down to us. Among the former are his most important crucifixes: the large one finished in 1505 which Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, had ordered for Wittenberg; and the crucifix of 1497 that was in the chancel vault of Würzburg cathedral until it was destroyed in 1945. At times dissenting from the standard literature, the article traces the chronological development of Riemenschneider’s crucifixes in terms of their artistic originality.
The ongoing restoration of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel has aroused heated controversy. The author of this article, who is no stranger to the debate, here demon-strates that the restorers, acting on the misguided assumption that they were undoing damage done by their predecessors, in fact removed a pentimento by the artist himself.
In the first phase of the project in 1980-85, the naked breast of the woman holding an in-fant in the lunette inscribed “SALMON BOOZ OBETH” was "discovered" through the elimination of the bit of drapery that had covered it. The Vatican team claimed that the drap-ery, painted a secco instead of buon fresco, was a later addition motivated by prudery. How-ever, none of the proposed datings for the alleged intervention is remotely convincing. Nor has it been explained why, out of all the exposed breasts depicted in the frescoes, this one would have been singled out for censorship.
That Michelangelo was responsible for adding the drapery is clear from the presence of the drapery over the breast in sixteenth-century engravings of the figure and, in particular, in a drawing done in the decades following completion of the ceiling.
The author argues that fifteenth-century Ferrarese art should be regarded not as neurotic and disturbing but rather as witty and pleasingly stylized. Its noble patrons would have found the artificiality and variety of the style refreshingly novel. Other aspects of Ferrarese culture tend to support such an interpretation. Those who claim that the art of Ferrara is harsh and jarring are apparently using Florentine standards of normality as a yardstick.
The identification with Old Testament figures in a portrait historié serves chiefly as a hid-den portrait, donor portrait, or ruler portrait, and is based on analogies of virtue, rank, name, or events. Three broad groups may be discerned: first, the identification of rulers and military leaders with biblical kings and commanders illustrates their virtue and the divine right of kings; second, wedding and family portraits, primarily in the Protestant
Netherlands, demonstrate the self-image of the subjects as a new "chosen people" and the emulation of biblical forefathers; and third, identifications with Judith and Holofernes or David and Goliath suggest the artist’s self-representation or personal, erotic meanings.
The original title of The Plague at Ashdod in the Louvre, Il miraculo dell’ Arca nel tempio di Agone, is the point of departure for an alternate reading of the painting based on Samuel iconography, plague imagery, and textual sources which were ignored in the past. Nicolas Poussin’s aim was not simply to paint two episodes from the Book of Samuel, as has hitherto been claimed, but rather to represent the culmination of a chain of events that foreshadowed not only the future of the Jews but that of Christianity as well. It becomes apparent that the artist wove a rich pattern of symbolism which implies the Augustinian conception of a divine plan governing history, as prefigured in the medieval typology of the widely popular Biblia Pauperum.
The River and the Castle: The Roman Journey of Bernardo Bellotto
Assessing Bernardo Bellotto’s early career in Italy has always been difficult because of his stylistic dependence in that period on his famous uncle, Canaletto. For a better understanding of Bellotto’s Roman sojourn of 1742, this article examines the View of the Tiber and the Castel Sant’Angelo and its pendant, View of the Tiber with the Castel Sant’Angelo and San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (both in the Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection, Princeton, N.J.), which are smaller copies by the artist of his pendants now in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio. The twe landscapes demonstrate the artist’s familiarity with the work of the Dutch-born Gaspar Adri-aensz. van Wittel.
The terminus ante quem for the painting with San Giovanni is established through the demolition of a group of buildings depicted on the left in June 1742. Venetian documents re-garding Bellotto’s marriage and the baptism of his children show that he left for Florence, Lucca, and Rome by January 1742 at the earliest. The use Canaletto made of his nephew’s drawings of Rome suggests that the latter returned to Venice by the following autumn.
While Stuart Davis has long been recognized as one of the foremost American modernists, a full appreciation of his work has been hindered by the tendency of art historians to focus on its formal attributes. With few exceptions, over the last three decades the content of these paintings was either dismissed as inconsequential or, at best, considered secondary to the artist’s formal concerns.
This article argues that, on the contrary, his formal innovations were inextricably tied to contemporary subject matter. Davis was committed to modern content even before modern form, and the challenge he took on was to integrate the two. Ultimately, he used abstraction as a “synesthetic equivalent” through which to express his response to the dynamic new cul-ture of the twentieth century, as represented by, among other things, technological advances, commercial packaging, and jazz musie. His search for a means of incorporating the world around him in his art made him possibly the most complete modernist of all.
In the last decade of his life, Antonio Canova carved a series of idealized female marble busts, one of which was of the ancient Greek poet Sappho (Barbara Piasecka Johnson Collection, Princeton, N.J.). This bust is more restrained than most of the others, but the severity of the form is belied by the gentle charm of the expression, which is animated by an enigmatic smile with a hint of sadness. A few locks of hair escape from the smooth coiffure, showing that the sculptor’s ideal of beauty, far from being purely cerebral and abstract, was humanized by naturalistic touches that lent "an extraordinary softness" to his work, in the words of a con-temporary admirer.
The Portrait of a Youth from the Czartoryski Collection in Cracow, a remarkable work generally attributed to Raphael, vanished without a trace just a few months before the end of the Second World War. Its history had always been dramatic. It came into the possession of Poland’s highly cultured Czartoryski family at the beginning of the nineteenth century, at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, and survived repeated wartime evacuations over the years until its theft by the Nazis and subsequent presumed destruction.
The portrait can be dated on stylistic grounds to c. 1509–1516, between Raphael’s great frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura and the Sistine Madonna. Its subject may well be the "ideal man" of the High Renaissance, a courtier along the lines of Baldassare Castiglione’s literary model. Once thought to be Raphael’s self-portrait, the painting perhaps does indeed represent the artist as such, if not as an individual. This is a creator so supremely confident of his divine gifts and social status that he can afford to depict his hands in idle repose, free of the tools of his trade.