Not only Christian philosophers but also artists concerned themselves with the quomodo of the Incarnation. Painters often represented the Spiritus Sanctus in the form of a dove from whose beak divine rays sometimes emanated. The critical questions of the dove's position in relation to the Virgin and at what point on the Virgin's body it should aim its divine rays were rethought with astonishing independence of mind by Lippi in his London Annunciation. The dove has relinquished its normal high-flying station and is level with the Virgin's womb. The rare golden motes emitted from its beak are directed at the Virgin's belly. The Virgin's dress parts over the abdomen, and the opening releases a burst of similar gold-dotted rays. This "How" of Mary's impregnation is in symbolic analogy to the process of vision as understood in 15th-century Florence: visual rays exiting from the eye mingle with oncoming rays to constitute sight. Lippi suggests light as the sole and sufficient symbol of fecundation. As light is the world's noblest substance and its cognate, vision, the noblest sense, so their mutual coupling is fittest to serve as a symbol of sacred union.
Antonino Pierozzi, Archbishop of Florence in the mid-15th century, described extensively the miraculous in utero conception of Jesus. Lippi, in his London Annunciation, superseded theological interpretation and ventured into optics: namely Roger Bacon's theory of the "multiplication of species", which had been excerpted by Ghiberti in Book III of his Commentarii and was therefore well known to artists. The evidence is convincing that Lippi thought out the pictorial solution to this painting with Bacon in mind. When he painted the dove opposite Mary's womb, he was thinking that distinct vision occurs only when the visual object confronts the eye and the visual rays are able to enter at right angles. The second hint of Lippi's debt to Bacon's optics is the way he represented the species coming from the dove to the Virgin. Only one ray issuing from the dove connects with the center of the light emanating from the Virgin's womb. It is also the most nearly perpendicular. The little cut in Mary's garment represents the pupil of an eye.
In Vasari's painted portrait of Lorenzo the Magnificent, painted for the apartments of Duke Cosimo I in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, prominent exposure is given to a giraffe, one of the gifts presented to Lorenzo by his ambassadors. The article shows that the giraffe, which is critical to the composition of the painting, has not only a historical motive but also an iconographic significance. The admiration of Lorenzo for Julius Caesar is reflected in this demonstration, the second time in history when a giraffe was presented to the Italian people. It may therefore be interpreted as a symbol of the power of the tyrant.
Coined in the late nineteenth century, the term "Color Music" described a visionary art from created with color lights and independent of easel painting. This idea of color music was symptomatic of a fundamental shift in aesthetic theory, whereby music served as an ideal model for the visual arts. The twin doctrines of musical analogy and synaesthesia provided the foundation for theories of color music. Advocates of synaesthesia were divided into two distinct schools - the quasi-mystical and the pseudo-scientific. This paper analyzes the evolution of these two traditions and their influence among American artists and critics of the early modern period.
The window on Parnassus is the shuttered object that figures in Marcantonio Raimondi's engraved Parnassus, after Raphael (ca. 1517-20). This preserves Raphael's first thought or modello for the fresco in the Segnatura (1509-11), as scholarly consensus maintains and geometric analyses also demonstrate. Simpler in form than the final fresco, engraved Parnassus also differs in content: a tightly-worked out demonstration of poetry, its genres, hierarchies and activities, derived from a body of classical texts (Virgil, Horace) consistently Augustan. Raphael's classicized Parnassus also serves an epideictic function, directing attention to that new and Roman Parnassus, the Villa of the Belvedere, an orientation stressed by the engraver and the window on Parnassus that anchors his reworking of Raphael's first composition.
This article, the point of departure for which is W. Friedlaender's controversial hypothesis that there is an affinity between Caravaggio's altarpieces and the spirituality of St. Philip Neri and Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, is divided into two parts. In part I, after a summary of the state of the question of this hypothesis and its reception, there is a critique of several ideas of Friedlaender, his supporters, and his critics: Caravaggio was probably introduced to the Exercises by the Augustinians, not the Oratorians; the Exercises are not the only place where the artist could have come into contact with the meditative practices of the composition of place and application of the senses; and although the Oratorians and Jesuits may have found Caravaggio's breaches of decorum offensive, that does not mean that the artist did not respond to and internalize elements of the spirituality of Neri and Loyola. Part II puts forth the view that the hallmarks of Caravaggio's altarpieces identified by Friedlaender and other - the direct contact the artist establishes between the sacred scene and the spectator and his consistent humanization of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, as well as populating his religious paintings with apparently poor, common and very human types - are primarily Caravaggio's artistic response to, and interpretation of, Counter-Reformation meditative practices. This view is substantiated by an examination of Caravaggio's religious art in relation to the liturgical context for which it was intended and the liturgical piety of his age, of which his meditative prayer was an integral part.