The Entombment of Christ by Federico Barocci in the Church of Santa Croce, Senigallia: A Previously Unpublished “Bozzetto per i Colori” and Other Contributions to Our Knowledge of the Artist
In 1579, the lay Confraternity of the Cross and the Blessed Sacrament in Senigallia com-missioned Federico Barocci to paint a large multi-figured Entombment of Christ for their Church of Santa Croce. The altarpiece cost the artist nearly three years of intense intellectual and physical labor, and is generally acknowledged to be one of the supreme masterpieces of the Italian Counter-Reformation.
The development of the work, traced here, is paradigmatic of Barocci’s painstakingly elaborate painting method, which entailed producing a multitude of compositional, anatomi-cal, and drapery studies, as well as modelli amd large-scale cartoons in which problems of chiaroscuro and color were fully worked out in advance. Published for the first time is the "bozzetto per i colori” for The Entombment. In addition, the author expands the known cor-pus of related works to include an oil sketch of the head and shoulders of St. Mary Magdalene and a drawing of the head of one of the Virgin’s attendants.
Controversy has long surrounded both the date of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine (Czartoryski Collection, Cracow) and the identity of the sitter. At the tum of the century, Jan Bołoz-Antoniewicz identified the young girl as Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of Ludovico Sforza ("il Moro"), the ruler of Milan. It was long believed, based on a published document, that Cecilia was Ludovico’s mistress by 1481, and that Leonardo painted her shortly after his arrival in Milan the following year. But a number of scholars have moved up the date of the portrait to c. 1490, which is eminently plausible on stylistic grounds. Cecilia later wrote to Isabella d’Este that she had sat for Leonardo when she was quite young, and if the new dating is correct, it would make her at least 25 at the time, scarcely youthful by Renaissance standards.
This article presents recently discovered documents which prove that Cecilia was actually born in 1473 or 1474, and further suggest that she became Ludovico’s mistress only in 1489. Moreover, the 1481 document is shown to be a copy of a lost original and full of errors, one of which involves the date, which should instead be read as 1491. The conclusion is that the Cracow portrait is indeed of the young Cecilia and was painted around 1490, the year before Ludovico married Beatrice d’Este.
In January 1992, Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits of Ginevra de’ Benci and the Lady with an Ermine briefly came together at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. This meeting of works executed 15 years apart provided a unique opportunity to study Leonardo’s growth as a painter. The author, who is Chairman of Painting Conservation at the museum, discusses the results of the examinations undergone by the portraits, as well as their current condition and the techniques and materials used in their painting.
The question of whether the original design of Francis I’s château at Chambord is traceable to Leonardo da Vinci may never be resolved for lack of documentation. However, the author points out striking similarities between architectural elements drawn by the master—such as central plans, double and quadruple spiral staircases, minaret-type turrets, and windows—and specific features of the château. It is possible that the Italian architect Domenico da Cortona, who was already in the young king’s service when Leonardo arrived at the French court in 1516, took over and modified the master’s ambitious plans for a palace at Romorantin once these had been abandoned in favor of the Chambord project. The building of the new royal residence began some months after Leonardo’s death in May 1519.
Laura with Polia and Berenice by Lorenzo Lotto
In his analysis of Laura with Polia and Berenice, the so-called "Dream of the Maiden," by Lorenzo Lotto (National Gallery of Art, Washington), the author asserts that the painting is based on Petrarch’s famous song "Chiare fresche e dolci acque." Details such as the two satyrs are interpreted as symbolizing voluptas, Petrarch’s conception of which was the subject of debate in Lotto’s time. The figure of Laura conforms to the imagery of the nymph guarding the well which was common at the end of the fifteenth century. The title alludes to the hero-ines of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna and Gli Asolani by Pietro Bembo.
This article discusses four versions of David Contemplating the Head of Goliath in which Guido Reni was directly involved. The paintings range in date from 1605 to c. 1639, nearly spanning Reni’s period of activity. Three of the works are referred to in a letter written in 1631 by Cardinal Bernardino Spada, including the earliest one, now in the Louvre, and a ver-sion started by Francesco Gessi and retouched by Reni (here identified as the David which was once in the Liechtenstein gallery in Vienna). The letter establishes a second autograph David painted before 1631; this is very likely the privately-owned painting that was recently on loan to the National Gallery, London.
One can follow the evolution of Reni’s style from the modified Caravaggism of the first David, through the luminosity of his seconda maniera as seen in the second autograph version to the immaterial vision of his last years which is exemplified by his final treatment of the subject, recently discovered by thi author in a private collection in Milan.
Successive Versions of Works by Elsheimer
Explored here are the compositional variations in the different versions of Tobias and the Angel and The Destruction of Troy— including a previously unknown version of the latter in private collection—by the German painter and printmaker Adam Elsheimer. While the com-position and most of the details of the earlier paintings are essentially retained, changes re-flecting the artist’s stylistic development may also be observed.
Gabriel Metsu’s Vegetable Market at Amsterdam distinguishes itself from similar seven-teenth-century Dutch paintings most notably through the rich and complex relationship betwe many of its elements and a detailed description of the markets of Amsterdam in the popular theatrical farce Moortje by Gerbrand Bredero. Metsu probably chose to focus on the vegetable market because he lived nearby.
The painting may have been commissioned by one of the regents of the city’s theater, the Schouwburg, who would have appreciated the allusions to the Bredero play. Alternatively, the patron might have been a regent of the orphanage or the people’s home, which shared be-tween them the profits from Schouwburg performances. There is a previously unrecognized precedent for Metsu’s receiving a commission from a regent of a charitable institution: the patron for his Justice Protecting Widows and Orphans was a regent of the huiszittenhuis Lei-den which provided assistance to widows and orphans.
Or possibly the patron was a rich vegetable grower or seller or simply someone who loved Amsterdam and its colorful markets.
Dominican saints appear in countless Italian pictures of the fifteenth and sixteenth centu-ries, with St. Vincent Ferrer occupying fourth place in their normal order of importance. His comparative obscurity in modern times, however, has resulted in his frequent misidentification as St. Dominic and sometimes as St. Antoninus of Florence; occasionally, he is simply called "a Dominican saint." Yet his life (1350-1419) and legend are well known,
and such erroneous identifications can be avoided once several conventional aspects of Vincent’s iconography are recalled.
The article also discusses hitherto unnoticed features of the cult of St. Vincent, above all his association in various works with St. Peter Martyr. Like St. Roch and St. Sebastian, with whom they also appear, these two might have been seen as guarding against the plague. St. Vincent may even have served as a sort of all-purpose helper, healer, savior, protector, and miracle-worker.
In Odilon Redon’s early work, balloons function as visual metaphors for the human need to transcend earthly existence as part of a spiritual quest, as posited by esoteric mysticism. This article argues that the artist was aware of the major developments in aerostation, which were closely linked with French national history, for the different balloon types are reflected in his drawings and prints; and that he may have drawn on firsthand knowledge of balloons for two early images, analyzed here in detail. Rather than use traditional religious or mytho-logical imagery, Redon turned to the hot-air balloon because it was a particularly topical and modern image in the 1870s.