252 x 232 mm
252 x 232 mm
Visual Anachronisms in Context: Religious Painting in Venetian Cyprus and Medieval Bolognese Manuscripts
The article examines four painted churches, almost completely unknown to scholars, dating from the sixteenth century, during which Cyprus was under Venetian rule (1473–1571). The study comprises three parts: the first examines the wall paintings of the churches and through a stylistic and iconographic investigation establishes that, albeit products of different workshops, the frescoes most likely followed similar templates; the second explores the existing affinities between those frescoes and medieval Bolognese manuscript illuminations, an association which is propounded here for the first time; the last part constitutes an effort to suggest an appropriate date for these paintings by taking into account visual evidence from Venetian Cyprus.
Voluntary Poverty and the Relation of Potential Text and Image in the Stained-Glass Cycle of St Alexis in Königsberg in der Neumark (present-day Chojna, Western Pomerania)
The exceptional multiplicity of literary versions of St Alexis’s life-story contrasts with the scarcity of liturgical rites devoted to the saint, dedications of churches and altars, and above all, visual representations. Cycles devoted to the saint are but few and usually limited to a handful of scenes. In this context, the stained-glass cycle consisting of 26 panels with the legend of St Alexis from St Mary’s Church in Königsberg in der Neumark (now Chojna, Poland) is quite exceptional. Confronted with a strong literary tradition and weak visual representation of the life of St Alexis, one ought to ask about the relation between the pictorial cycle and the literary source. What specific circumstances could have contributed to the fact that the story was recorded in the parish church in Königsberg in the form of a unique, monumental stained-glass cycle? What role in the construction of the pictorial narration is played by text-scrolls, which appear in just a few out of over twenty scenes? And finally, how could this story have been perceived by laity in the context of the functioning of sacred space in the fifteenth century?
Mantegna and the Orators: The Invention of the Mars and Venus for Isabella d’Este Gonzaga
This paper explores the intellectual and social circumstances that informed the production of Andrea Mantegna’s Mars and Venus (1497), the first painting executed for the studiolo of Isabella d’Este Gonzaga. Documentary evidence suggests that Mantegna collaborated on this project with an iconographic advisor, most likely the learned Paride da Ceresara. The author argues, somewhat against the received wisdom, that both Paride and Mantegna are responsible for this painting’s invention, and maintains that the collaborative nature of their enterprise invites us to rethink the nature of artistic ‘invention’ itself. The term, which entered the lexicon of early modern art theory via the writings of Cicero and Quintilian, describes an intellectual process of discovery. Paride, as the paper attempts to show, discovered his iconographic invenzione by using the techniques of humanist philology. Mantegna drew on his knowledge of classical sculpture, as well as a hitherto unacknowledged tradition of textual criticism that linked his handling of a brush to the tenets of ancient rhetorical theory and to the writings of Leon Battista Alberti. Discovering in these contexts a set of poetic, formal, and stylistic devices uniquely suited to the learned environment of Isabella’s studiolo, Mantegna and Paride together invented a means of visibly addressing their patron’s concerns, concerns that are ultimately tied to the Platonic philosophy of the soul.
Portraits of Alexander the Great During the Italian Renaissance
During the Italian Renaissance, artists sought to recreate portraits of the ancient king of Macedon, Alexander the Great, that were faithful to the classical visual and literary sources. Not only does this interest in the likeness of the king reflect a desire to revive the art of antiquity, but, through the recreation of a likeness of the Macedonian monarch, a modern artist could compete with and appropriate the famed legacy of Alexander’s court portraitists, Apelles, Lysippus and Pyrgoteles. This paper explores the interest in portraits of Alexander during the Renaissance, tracing literary and visual models used by artists, the images produced, and the multivalent implications that such works offered artists, patrons, and viewers alike.
On The Crucifixion of St Peter Relief in Bramante’s Tempietto
Contrary to a well established artistic tradition that included some expected iconographic details in scenes of the crucifixion of St Peter, such as the two metae, Roman soldiers, lay bystanders, a mound that identified the site of the martyrdom as Janiculum Hill and the inevitable upside-down cross, the marble predella that graces the altar in Bramante’s Tempietto presents a number of anomalies that have not been fully addressed by scholars. Most notably, no one has pointed out that Peter is portrayed without a cross behind him. This article analyzes this important marble relief, assesses the specific narrative goals the sculptor tried to achieve, and suggests that it was executed in the late sixteenth century, if not altogether in 1628, as part of a series of changes that took place when a new access to the crypt was created. It also assesses the suggested dating in relationship to the evolution of the Tempietto itself.
Portraits of Sovereignty: Jacopo Palma Giovane and the Doges’ Commemorative Cycle in the Doge’s Palace, Venice
The so-called votive paintings of doges are among the most distinctive compositions by Jacopo Palma Giovane. Executed at the Doge’s Palace, Venice, in the aftermath of the fire of 11 May 1574, these canvases are conspicuous for their iconography, characterised by the insertion of a state portrait into a religious scene. This article aims to provide a systematic reading of these paintings as an organic and commemorative series, thereby challenging their traditional interpretation as merely votive or religious. By accentuating the sanctity of the doge’s magistracy, Palma’s commemorative cycle was conceived of as a privilege of statecraft and became thus a constitutive element of Venice’s self-celebratory imagery.
Jacopo Pontormo’s Virgin and Child with Saint Anne in the Louvre
Historians obsessively interpret Jacopo Pontormo’s altarpiece as a declaration of Florentine political liberty with Saint Anne its standard bearer. However, a divergent political reality – the autocratic rule in Florence of Leo X and Clement VII – transpires from an examination of the procession in the medallion below the Holy Family, and the painting’s paramount ingredient is pious devotion. After all, the recipients of the altarpiece were the Benedictine nuns of Saint Anne in Verzaia.
Enigmatic Presences: The Still Lifes of Juan Sánchez Cotán
The article deals with Juan Sánchez Cotán’s still lifes and the vexing question of the link between them and the painter’s religious paintings. It is argued that the still lifes are not isolated formal experiments, as it has been said most recently, and that a traditional symbolic interpretation is not appropriate either. The first part of the article consists in a re-examination, based on Victor Stoichita’s L’instauration du tableau, of the still lifes’ formal structure. In the second part they have been compared with a Crucifix by Sánchez Cotán which shows a strikingly similar spatial construction and evokes a like interaction between presence and representation; they have been also related to Luis de Granada’s thoughts about the material world that help to understand the paintings, but do not help to find their meaning. In fact, Sánchez Cotán made the choice not to convey any meaning, but to confront the beholder with the mystery of a mere presence, the mystery of a world from which God has disappeared, yet one that was created by him and that reveals his beauty. The third part of the article considers the Spiritual Canticle by John of the Cross, a good model for understanding the still lifes in question: as the mystical poem, they assert the mysterious and invisible presence of God through formal means.
The Saltonstall Family: A Study of Time, Space and Memory
David Des Granges’ The Saltonstall Family (1636–1637, Tate, London) might be regarded as a family memorial, recording the wives and children of Sir Richard Saltonstall. The presence of two wives, one living, one dead, evokes the traditions of memorial tombs, where several wives often lie side by side. However there are some curious elements to this portrait, most notably the partly open door at the foot of the bed and the gesture placed centrally in the composition in which Sir Richard Saltonstall dangles a glove over the hand of his deceased wife. This article explores both of these elements, arguing that the glove gesture relates to specific concerns about dynasty and inheritance. It will also examine the ways in which the door, in particular, and the compositional structure more generally have been used to convey complex ideas about time.
Ferrata and Guidi, the ‘boys’ of Algardi, in Sant’Agnese: A Contentious Rivalry
In July 1654, right after Alessandro Algardi’s death, his pupils Ercole Ferrata and Domenico Guidi were already working on a model of a scene in low-relief intended for the main altarpiece in Sant’Agnese. According to Carlo Cartari, Guidi’s biographer, the latter’s work in the church was hindered by someone, probably by Ferrata. And indeed, in 1660, Ferrata managed to achieve a position of absolute authority in the yard of Sant’Agnese, personally assigning commissions for altarpieces destined to the piers under the dome. The chosen artists, of average standing, had all gravitated around Algardi or still around Ferrata, but Guidi was clamorously banished from that assignment. Certainly, Ferrata always aimed to accomplish the great low-relief for the main altar, already commissioned from Algardi in 1654, and when, between 1671 and 1672, Guidi finally managed to obtain the coveted commission, Ferrata left the yard and started a lawsuit against the Pamphilj.
Innovation and Identity in Cornelis Gijsbrechts’ A Hanging Wall Pouch
For decades it was believed that the life and career of the Flemish trompe l’œil master and court painter to the kings of Denmark, Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts ended in 1675. Having left the Danish court around 1672 he is said to have made his way to Stockholm and then Breslau (present day Wrocław, Poland), where he then vanished into obscurity. However, recently transcribed inscriptions on A Hanging Wall Pouch at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, tell an entirely different story. According to trompe l’œil documents tucked throughout the illusionistic pouch, Gijsbrechts executed the work in 1677 and that he did so in the service of the second prince of Auersperg and duke of Silesia-Münsterberg, Johann Ferdinand von Auersperg. This new information not only extends Gijsbrechts’ life two years longer than previously believed (and makes A Hanging Wall Pouch his last known work), but it also revises the assessment of his late career and offers insights into two the works most striking features: the painting is cut in the shape of the objects it represents and also has collaged to it a real mirror – techniques Gijsbrechts only ever used while working for the kings of Denmark. Situated in relation to Gijsbrechts’ Danish works, A Hanging Wall Pouch sheds light on the nature of Gijsbrechts’ production, the intimate relationship that existed between painter and patron, and the ways in which Gijsbrechts selected certain kinds of illusionism to craft his own artistic identity.
Giulia Lama: A Luminous Painter and a Tenebrist Poet
Giulia Lama (1681–1747), a Venetian painter and poetess, was born in the parish of Santa Maria Formosa. At an early age, her father, Agostino Lama, trained her as a painter. Her close friendship with the Venetian painter Piazzetta has mislead scholars in thinking that she was his pupil. However, records show that they were fellow painters. Since the eighteenth century critics have been paralleling Lama’s physical unattractiveness of a harelip, snub nose and plainness, with her artistic talents, thus making negative statements about her natural appearance. At the same time she was highly regarded for her multiple artistic and intellectual talents, in embroidering and painting as well as in mathematics and poetry. Abbot Antonio Conti (1677–1749) commented in a letter of 1 May 1728 that ‘Giulia Lama excels much in poetry as in painting, and I find in her poems the turn of phrase of Petrarch’.
This essay focuses on two aspects about Lama’s accomplishments: as painter, examining some of her self-portraits and martyrdom paintings, and as a poet, analyzing an eulogy honoring and lamenting the death of her friend and poet Antonio Sforza (1700–1735). She also composed three poems and two songs translated for the first time in this essay. Her painterly brushstrokes of tenebrism, somber shadows, and dramatic coloratura are also reflected in her somber poetry. Lama epitomizes a nobil donna of the eighteenth century – the educated woman of the Enlightenment, who is accomplished in making lace, creating drawings and paintings, and composing philosophical poems.
‘Je suis celui qui sui’. Text, Ornamental Form, and Epiphany in Józef Mehoffer’s God the Father Stained Glass in Freiburg (Switzerland)
In the stained glass God the Father by Józef Mehoffer in the chancel of the cathedral in Freiburg (Switzerland), the inscription ‘Je suis celui qui sui’ specifies the subject of the representation. The text also co-creates the phenomenon of epiphany: the inscription and the Divine countenance either emerge from among an effusion of colours, reminiscent of fire and precious stones from the vision of Ezekiel and Daniel, or else merge with the decorative mosaic of geometrical shapes building up the entire composition. The use of the pronoun ‘I’ personalizes the relation: viewer–work of art, placing every viewer who looks at the window in the position of someone who listens to the words Yahweh had spoken on Mount Horeb. And finally, the execution of the inscription in the stained-glass technique brings out its visual aspect. A painter’s work makes writing visible
FACES: Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems – A Feasibility Study of the Application of Face Recognition Technology to Works of Portrait Art
FACES (Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems) is a project that, after two years of research support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has established proof of concept for the application of face recognition technology to works of portrait art. In the application of face recognition technology to photographed human faces, a number of difficulties are inherent in a real or perceived alteration of appearance of the face through variations in facial expression, age, angle of pose, and so on. With works of portrait art, not only do all these problems pertain, but these works also have their own additional challenges. Most notably, portrait art does not provide what might be called a photographic likeness but rather one that goes through a process of visual interpretation on the part of the artist. After establishing the initial parameters of the application of this technology, the main goal of FACES has been to test the ability of the FACES algorithm to restore lost identities to works of portrait art, something our research has shown is clearly feasible. Our work has also suggested a number of other potential applications, both using the FACES algorithm and employing basic concept of FACES in an altered form.
The use of the FACES algorithm should not be thought of as limited to facial recognition in the sense of identification alone. An altered form of the technology used in FACES might also be used to study a wide range of other applications such as adherence or non-adherence to widely recognized artistic canons, formal or informal; the identification of variations in the practice of an individual artist (over time, with different subjects, with different genres, after exposure to external influences, and so on); probable bodies of work of anonymous artists; difference in larger bodies of works (art historical ‘big data’); even to detect the change of masons in medieval building.