Federico Barocci's painting of Il Perdono di Assisi is the first altarpiece to represent this controversial subject, and it does so in a completely unprecedented way. As such the painting is an notable statement of Franciscan and more generally Counter Reform theology. A previously unknown document affirms the date, the devotional content, and the historical context of the commission, which in turn explain the extraordinary papal license subsequently granted to the artist to sell his monumental print of the same subject directly to pilgrims. Most importantly, the study reveals Barocci as an artist of the intellect whose innovative style - ingratiating naturalism and lyrical effects of color and light, often thought of as anecdotal and effusively sentimental - in fact give life to the ideological and social contributions of the new era.
This essay establishes new contexts for the career of the Florentine painter Raffaellino del Garbo (d. c. 1527-1528), through new documentary research. A contract drawn up on in 1502 reveals that Piero Corbinelli commissioned Raffaellino to paint an double-sided tabernacle near his villa at San Felice a Ema (lost). The original contract for Raffaellino's Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes reveals the identity of the individual who commissioned the painting on behalf of the convent, Don Innocenzo Riccialbani. Two unpublished sinopie for the Multiplication cast doubt on the recent attribution to Raffaellino of the St. Bernard with the Crucified Christ (Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi), here identified as the work of Sperandio di Giovanni. Another contract records that in 1516 a friar of Santo Spirito, Fra' Raffaello da Fivizzano, commissioned Raffaellino to paint an Assumption of the Virgin with Sts. Anthony, John the Baptist, James, and Sigismund. This iconography, and clues in the contract itself, suggest that Raffaellino's Assumption was intended for the Augustinian church of San Giovanni Battista, Fivizzano (destroyed, with much of its art, by an earthquake in 1920). The new documentation furnishes new details about Raffaellino's use of varying names at different periods in his life - a practice that long led scholars to believe his works were actually painted by several different artists.
At present, a coherent picture of the development of Bronzino's style and practice in his drawings is lacking. Despite the pioneering work on the connoisseurship of Bronzino drawings by Craig Hugh Smyth, and important contributions on specific drawings by other scholars, contemporary scholarship tends to limit its efforts to connecting drawings to known commissions and recognizing Bronzino's hand only in a certain decisive, smooth, elongated sweep of line, and the creation of solid marmoreal forms. However, many of Bronzino's accepted drawings exhibit other stylistic characteristics, which because they deviate from this formula, tend to be elided in other published accounts. The significance of these stylistic markers has not been fully appreciated in the literature, in part, because they do not easily conform to notions of an artist's "early", "mature", or "late" periods. Instead, throughout his career, Bronzino appears to have drawn in several different manners, or "modes", depending on the type of drawing he was making. In this article it is suggested that the unusual stylistic characteristics of some of Bronzino's drawings may be directly related to the "mode" of the drawing he was preparing. By approaching in this manner the problem of Bronzino's draftsmanship as he moves from study to modello, it can be shown that the place of the drawing in the sequence of his creative process had an impact on the graphic style Bronzino used. A description of the drawing stages through which Bronzino developed his ideas reveals that he worked through an elaborate process. Some new proposals for Bronzino's authorship are included.
The view that Giovanni Bastianini (1830-1868) participated in the deceptions regarding his work sold as Renaissance, was questioned in my recent article in this journal. Based in part on the discovery of a damaging letter regarding Bastianini from Alessandro Foresi to the French dealer Davillier, Jeremy Warren has contended that the sculptor did, indeed, act with knowing fraudulent intent. In addition to questioning the validity of Warren's conclusions, this paper argues that Bastianini's generally uncontested reputation as a forger has created a barrier to assessing those sculptures that move beyond the historicizing, while also impeding the search for the names and styles of other masters working in stile. Scholars and curators who assume the important role of connoisseurs of Renaissance sculpture would do well to cast a less jaundiced eye on their collection of "forgeries" and related sculptures.
The paper considers two sculpture groups by Emmanuel Fremiet (1824—1910), each showing a gorilla abducting a woman. The first of them (1859) was prevented from being shown at the Paris Salon; doubts were raised about its artistic quality, and there were fears of offending public morals. However, thanks to help from Count de Nieuwerkerke, director of the Imperial Museums, it was put on display next to the entrance to the exhibition at the Palais de l'Industrie, amidst an atmosphere of scandal. The second sculpture (1887) met with a wholly different reception: support from the jury of artists, and hostility from the Ministry of Fine Arts. The artists awarded the sculptor a Medal of Honour. The authorities first declined to purchase the work for the national collection, and when they finally agreed, they ruled out casting the plaster in bronze and placing it in the Natural History Museum in Paris, for which it had been created. The paper treats Fremiet's work, and its subject matter, within the broader context of changing views on the nature and behaviour of gorillas, which were a topic of lively discussion in the nineteenth century. The parties to the argument invoked contemporary writings on natural history and travel, in which these primates often appeared in connection with the controversy over Darwin's theory. The paper considers the extent to which Fremiet, usually regarded as a dispassionate and scrupulous illustrator, was in tune with the state of scientific knowledge in the case of the two sculptures, which were created almost thirty years apart. The paper explores the reasons for the state administration's reserve toward the second sculpture, and mentions some instances of the gorilla myth's appearance in popular culture. That the gorilla myth is a powerful and attractive one is manifested in repeated returns to the theme, such as the many remakes of King Kong.