HORST BREDEKAMP - Bernini’s Bees – Picasso’s Bulls. On the Death of the American Art Historian Irving Lavin (1927–2019) (pp. 9–10)
HORST BREDEKAMP - Bernini’s Bees – Picasso’s Bulls. On the Death of the American Art Historian Irving Lavin (1927–2019)
World renown art historian Irving Lavin, born in 1927, perhaps held the most prestigious chair in art history: the professorship established by Erwin Panofsky at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In the last volume of Panofsky’s correspondence, Lavin emerges as the preeminent talent of his generation, and it was thus only logical that after he had obtained his doctorate in 1955 and his professorships at Vassar College and New York University he was appointed as Panofsky’s successor in 1973. His defining research areas were the classic fields of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque, and above all the artists Donatello, Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini. In particular, the work on Bernini has found an advancement by Lavin, which will endure.
In Hamburg, Lavin has made himself immortal as a Bernini specialist. Georg Syamken, curator of the Hamburger Kunsthalle, noticed a bust that had been in the depot of the Hamburger Kunsthalle as a work of the nineteenth century for several generations. When, in 1984, he voiced the suspicion to Lavin that it was a Baroque sculpture, Lavin was able to prove that it was the portrait of Cardinal Peretti-Montalto: a work of the young Bernini. The brilliance of the connoisseurship had been demonstrated precisely.
But Lavin’s research goes throughout the history of art and back to late antiquity. He authored fundamental publications on fifth- and sixth-century Tunisian floor mosaics, on the Duomo in Florence, on the architecture of the Baroque opera house. Then there is the great book on artistic exploration of the Song of Songs, together with his wife Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, an equally eminent art historian. And he continued to work to the end, as the following article testifi es.
Lavin was a highly influential and also argumentative scholar. He has played a similarly important role in American art history organizations like the College Art Association (CAA), as well as in the World Association of Art History, the Comité International d’histoire de l’Art (CIHA). Especially the latter was of special concern to him. He always stressed that the art history of the German-speaking world had in a way a leading role for the international repute of the field until the National Socialists put an end to it. Numerous Jewish art historians had to emigrate and the ties to international research were severed. For Lavin, who like his wife Marilyn was of Jewish origin, the standards devised by German immigrants remained an even higher benchmark. Among them were Richard Krautheimer and Ernst Kitzinger, with whom he studied as well as Horst W. Janson, who represented a concept of art history as a general visual history. On several occasions Lavin told what it meant for him as a student to have been trained by Janson to take fire hydrants and telephone poles as serious components of gestaltanalysis and to perceive the entire environment as one Bildtheater that art history must accept and interpret.
Lavin eyed deconstructionism and the theoretical elaboration of art history suspiciously not, as many believe, because he wanted to preserve a conservative art history, but because he considered this tradition to be more topical and avantgarde than what presented itself as a new art history in the 1980s and 1990s. Those who were lucky enough to be invited to receive a scholarship from the Institute for Advanced Study, were able to experience that rigorous research could also be understood as an act of liberation. Lavin neither cared for conventions of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art or for the borders of near and far. It was memorable, with which pride he explained the American educational institutions with their civic commitment, and at the same time appreciated everyday culture in its authentic value. Anyone who raised their eyebrows over mass culture revealed to Lavin a curiosity that is the necessary elementary determination of all research. His commentary on Panofsky’s essay on the grille of the Rolls Royce contains his own methodological legacy. His essay on Picasso’s bulls is a similar masterpiece, presenting a parforce ride through the entire history of art from cave painting to contemporary art. His passion for collecting focused equally on the work of Bernini yet also on the toaster, that curious micro-architecture whose inner glow is often disguised by sophisticated containers.
A close friendship connected him with Frank Gehry, with whom he travelled again and again through Europe. The interior of Gehry’s Berlin DG-Bank at the Brandenburg Gate, that appears as if spanned by a mighty fabric sculpture, originated from the hoods of monks in which the sculptor Claus Sluter had cloaked the mourners at the tomb of Philip the Bold around 1400. On one of their travels, Lavin had introduced Gehry to the figures of the monks, who was deeply touched and excited by the interplay of stone and matter.
Irving Lavin was the living example of the incorporating powers that the Hamburger Warburg Library had developed in relation to the most various methods and fields of research. When, by the initiative of colleagues in Hamburg, and here in particular Martin Warnke, the opportunity arose to repurchase the building of the Warburg Library, Lavin became a strong advocate for this initiative. With his death, that occurred after a short, serious illness at the age of 91, the international research community and, in a special way, the tradition of the exiled art history of the German speaking world loses a historical – professionally as well as personally broadly radiating – icon.
(Translated from the German by Uta Nitschke-Joseph)
A cut version in German appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9 February 2019, p. 11.
IRVING LAVIN - The Silence of Bernini’s "David" (pp. 11–21)
The Silence of Bernini’s David
The essay offers a radically new understanding of the form, expression, and meaning of the young Bernini’s masterpiece, notoriously a self-portrait. In the 38th psalm, David, speaking in the first person, laments his transgressions and vows that he will mend his ways. He promises not to sin with his tongue, and to keep a bridle on his mouth while the sinner is before him. Bernini may have been influenced by the Commentary on the Psalms by the great Jesuit theologian Robert Bellarmine.
RAFAŁ QUIRINI-POPŁAWSKI - Alcune note sull’origine adriatico-ungherese dello stile dei capitelli del monastero benedettino di Tyniec (pp. 23–43)
On the Adriatic-Hungarian Origins of the Style of Capitals in the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec
The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec, which now lies within the administrative borders of Cracow, was founded in all likelihood in 1044, and the abbey church of Sts Peter and Paul was probably erected between 1090 and 1100. Among the remains of the abbey one finds a set of twin capitals as well as nine halves of such capitals with floral and interlace ornaments, decorated, to a lesser degree, also with geometrical and animal motifs. Their original function and location within the abbey (church? monastery?) remains unexplained.
Up until now, there prevailed a conviction that the a stampella type capitals from S. Tommaso monastery in Genoa and a capital from Prague Cathedral bore closest resemblance to the style of the capitals in the Tyniec abbey. Yet many features of the Tyniec capitals find their immediate counterparts in the Hungarian sculpture from the period of the 1060s (Szekszárd, Visegrád and Zselicszentjakab) to the mid-twelfth century (Somogyvár, Óbuda and Pécs), and many elements of the Hungarian sculptural decoration, in turn, derive from contemporary sculpture of the Veneto-Adriatic region. There are also numerous similarities between the architecture of the Tyniec church and many Hungarian Benedictine churches (in Somogyvár, Sárvármonostor and Dombó) which exhibit decorative elements that are similar to the Tyniec capitals. Yet the links between the Tyniec capitals and the Hungarian works boil down to purely typological similarities which are not sufficient to suggest any workshop ties between them. Artistic connections of Lesser Poland with Hungary in the eleventh and twelfth centuries are quite understandable, yet bearing in mind the orientation of the contemporary Hungarian art, we may speak of an indirect influence of the Veneto-Adriatic style on the Tyniec capitals. The dating of the church and of the comparative Hungarian examples suggests that the capitals in question may have been executed in the first half of the twelfth century.
DANIELE GUERNELLI - Generazioni a confronto. Un "Messale" per San Michele in Bosco a Bologna miniato da Giovanni Battista e Scipione Cavalletto (pp. 45–72)
Generations in Comparison. A Missal for San Michele in Bosco in Bologna Illuminated by Giovanni Battista and Scipione Cavalletto
The article presents an illuminated Missal now in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid (ms. Res/6). The codex was written and illustrated for the Olivetan Monastery of San Michele in Bosco, Bologna, in about 1519–1520, where Giorgio Vasari worked twenty years later. The manuscript was profusely decorated by the workshop of Giovanni Battista Cavalletto, who painted three historiated initials, helped by a hand that the scholarship tends to identify with his son Scipione, who also executed three initials. The difference between the art of the father and son is a way to measure the passage between the second and the third Maniera, as theorized by Vasari, who probably turned the pages of manuscripts during his stay in San Michele in Bosco. The article also adds a new manuscript to the catalogue of Bartolomeo Bossi, a collaborator of Cavalletto, to whom the codex was previously attributed.
LIVIO PESTILLI - Revisiting Michelangelo’s "Doni Tondo" (pp. 73–87)
Revisiting Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo
Like many icons of Renaissance art, the Doni Tondo is a work that has attracted the attention of numerous scholars and engendered differing interpretations. Most of all, scholarship is divided on how to interpret the relationship between the Holy Family in the foreground and the nude figures in the background. This essay shores up the interpretation of those who suggest that these nudes were meant to be seen as catechumens awaiting baptism or, more precisely, pagans who could not benefit from that rite because they were born before the coming of Christ. By focusing on the space in which these ignudi stand, the article deepens our understanding of the painting’s baptismal implications and its probable link to the birth of Agnolo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi’s son, Giovanni Battista.
VICTORIA S. REED - Decapitation, Devotion, and Desire in Titian’s "Salome" (pp. 89–115)
Decapitation, Devotion, and Desire in Titian’s Salome
The unusual iconography of Titian’s Salome at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome (c. 1515–1516) has long puzzled art historians. In recent years, some have argued that the painting represents Judith with the head of Holofernes, or that it has no definable subject matter at all. Early documentary evidence, however, overwhelmingly suggests that the subject of Titian’s painting was intended and understood as Salome. The painting’s iconography is elusive because it does not depend on one textual source, such as the Gospels. Much like Giorgione before him, Titian drew upon composite literary and artistic traditions for his work. The present article reviews the evidence offered by early inventories that the Doria Pamphilj painting was understood as Salome and explores the work’s iconographic foundations in northern Italian, devotional images of Salome and Giorgione’s paintings of David and Judith. It examines artistic and literary representations of love and dismemberment in the early Cinquecento. Finally, Titian’s Salome is placed in the context of his paintings of beautiful women, which incorporate poetic themes and motifs. In his Salome, Titian synthesizes references not just to the work of his contemporaries in the field of painting, but to the poets and writers of his day, aligning his own achievements with some of the most popular poetic representations of the tragic power of love.
MARIE-LOUISE LILLYWHITE - The Decoration of the Church of San Giacomo dall’Orio in Venice, 1567–1606: Palma il Giovane, Giovanni Maria da Ponte and the Counter-Reformation (pp. 117–150)
The Decoration of the Church of San Giacomo dall’Orio in Venice, 1567–1606: Palma il Giovane, Giovanni Maria da Ponte and the Counter-Reformation
The church of San Giacomo dall’Orio in Venice underwent extensive decoration in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, much of which was achieved due to the energetic direction of the parish priest Giovanni Maria da Ponte. In this period the church was embellished with a cycle of paintings relating to the Eucharist in the old sacristy, a new baptistery chapel was built, an elaborate chapel dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament was constructed and decorated, and the chapel of Saint Lawrence was adorned with paintings by Paolo Veronese and Palma il Giovane. The images produced clearly manifested the Catholic position regarding the Eucharist, Faith, and Charity. The sacristy cycle is a rare example of the Apostolic Visitation of 1581 singling out artworks for special praise, and these compliments were repeated by the Patriarchal Visitations that took place subsequently. San Giacomo dall’Orio thus provides an interesting example of how the laity and the clergy in Venice worked together with the aim of improving the decoration and prestige of their church, contributing to an ‘artistic reform’ that was supported by the ecclesiastical authorities.
AOIFE BRADY - Durability and Disease: Guido Reni’s Paintings on Silk (pp. 151–166)
Durability and Disease: Guido Reni’s Paintings on Silk
This article forms an investigation of seventeenth-century Bolognese artist Guido Reni’s use of silk as a painting support. Despite the high cost of the fabric when compared to conventional canvas materials such as linen, Reni chose to utilise silk supports in several large-scale commissions. The article examines seventeenth-century descriptions of Reni’s works on silk, and suggests possible structural reasons for the artist’s choice to use the unusual support, including his reported belief that it was more durable than linen canvas, and investigates whether such a belief has any scientific basis. It also considers aesthetic and symbolic underpinnings that might provide explanation for this practice, including potential associations with Italy’s 1629–1631 plague epidemics.
JESSE LOCKER - ‘I’m Still Learning’: "The Painter’s Studio" by the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds (pp. 167–190)
‘I’m Still Learning’: The Painter’s Studio by the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds
One of the great mysteries of seventeenth-century Italian art is the identity of the Neapolitan painter known as The Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds. Despite a century of proposals, there is no consensus as to the painter’s identity, yet little effort has gone into trying to understand the works themselves. This essay considers The Painter’s Studio (Colección Masaveu, Madrid), a witty and self-reflective meditation on the painter’s practice as a whole. The assemblage of painted objects in the painting provide a key for understanding aspects of the underpinnings of the painter’s otherwise unknowable artistic, intellectual, and religious ideals, as well as providing clues to the potential meaning of his celebrated paintings of shepherds.
SILVIA TITA - The Spada Swords and the Barberini Bees Define the Borders of the Papal States: the Frescoes by Colonna and Mitelli in the Salone of the Palazzo Spada (pp. 191–227)
The Spada Swords and the Barberini Bees Define the Borders of the Papal States: the Frescoes by Colonna and Mitelli in the Salone of the Palazzo Spada
The quadratura frescoes commissioned by Cardinal Bernardino Spada in 1634 from Angelo Michele Colonna and Agostino Mitelli for the Salone of his Palazzo Spada in Rome have received astonishingly little attention. This article demonstrates the political significance of the hitherto overlooked role of the Cardinal as the Prefect of Pope Urban VIII’s recently instituted Congregation for Borders for the Salone’s complex decoration. In so doing, it engages not surprisingly with the concept of border. Spada’s alignment with papal politics on borders instigated the visual glorification of special benefactors of the Church, such as the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great (r. 306–37), and the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (c. 742–814), and the departure from the problematic past of contested historical donations in favor of the Church. The imagery in the Salone Spada responded both to acute contemporary concerns regarding papal authority over temporal matters and to coeval artistic trends by which patrons sought to advertise their intellectual and social status. It aimed to consolidate the cardinal’s establishment in Rome in a fashion that, as suggested here, Bernardino Spada had already envisioned through a portrait by Guercino. The analysis of visual strategies at play in the frescoes, ranging from composition to details as paratext, enriches our understanding about border politics as pertaining to seventeenth-century papal policies.
MARCIA POINTON - Peter Paul Rubens and the Mineral World (pp. 229–265)
Peter Paul Rubens and the Mineral World
Rubens has been recognised as an artist of extraordinary erudition as well as a collector, diplomat and linguist. Unsurprisingly the main focus of Rubens scholarship has been iconographical. By focusing on material I address an aspect of Rubens’s life and work that has by comparison been largely ignored. Antwerp, the artist’s home city, was a major centre for global trade in precious stones. There is evidence that the artist not only owned raw stones but dealt in diamonds. During the first two decades of the seventeenth century at which time Rubens was a visitor, Rome was a centre for the development of mineralogical science and collecting, not least through the Accademia dei Lincei with whose members Rubens was associated. By focusing on Rubens’s interest in traditional lapidary matters as well as in nascent scientific enquiry, and by attending to pictorial detail, I aim to shed light on how the artist not only acquired and valued minerals but how precious stones were thematised in portraits and subjects from mythology and the Bible.
ALISON M. KETTERING - After Life: Rembrandt’s "Slaughtered Ox" (pp. 267–286)
After Life: Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox
Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox (1655) has long been seen as an allegory in the tradition of memento mori, suggesting correspondences between a dead animal and a dead human being. This paper does not dispute such cautionary readings. It expands and complicates those readings. Here, as in Rembrandt’s late history paintings, his concentrated pictorial rhetoric encouraged multiple responses. These extended to agricultural and socio-economic factors; the domestic provision of meat; links between oxen and social status; scientific and philosophical enquiry; and Rembrandt’s own creative capacity in rendering a creature naer het leven. They point to an artist rethinking animal-human relationships in a deeply interconnected world.
STEVEN F. OSTROW - Bernini, Baciccio, and the Dome Fresco in the Gesù: A Reconsideration (pp. 287–306)
Bernini, Baciccio, and the Dome Fresco in the Gesù: A Reconsideration
Giovanni Battista Gaulli’s dome fresco in the church of Santissimo Nome di Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus, which he carried out between 1672 and 1675, is widely recognized as one of the most spectacular examples of Roman Baroque painting. According to most scholars, the fresco should be seen as a ‘collaborazione a tre’, a three-way collaboration between Gian Paolo Oliva, as the patron who invented the iconographic program; Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as the designer of the fresco; and Gaulli – better known by his nickname Baciccio – as its executant. But is this, in fact, a valid way of understanding how the work came into being? Did the painter merely carry out Oliva’s program and Bernini’s designs? Or, should more creative agency be given to Baciccio for originating the design of the work? In an effort to answer these questions and to define, to the extent that it is possible, the particular role each of these individuals played, this essay revisits the history of the dome fresco project. And through a careful re-examination of the relevant primary and secondary sources, and, more importantly, all of the surviving preparatory drawings and bozzetti, the author presents a more nuanced and more accurate picture of what each of the three men contributed to the project, and argues that Baciccio, in fact, assumed the generative role in giving visual form to Oliva’s program and designing the imagery for the dome fresco.
LARISA NIKIFOROVA, EKATERINA BLOKHINA - Portrait with a Black Page in Eighteenth-Century Russian Art and the Cultural Transfer of Signs (pp. 307–322)
Portrait with a Black Page in Eighteenth-Century Russian Art and the Cultural Transfer of Signs
Portraits with black pages constitute a special group of artwork in eighteenth-century Russian art. This motif is an example of cultural transfer, during which signs inevitably changed their meanings. The emergence of the portrait with a black page in sixteenth-century European painting was preceded by a long process of selecting and combining elements. By the end of the seventeenth century, the iconographic canon had been formed and became a representation of Europe’s cultural superiority over the non-European world. The transfer of the motif into Russian art at the beginning of the eighteenth century was accompanied by a reduction of the social referent and the use of details and nuances, and by the transformation of the image of cultural identity into the abstract sign of supreme authority. This motif was in demand in Russian art, due to the experiments in iconography, resulting from the general processes of Europeanization, the specific circumstances of the accession to the throne as a result of palace coups, as well as from the issue of representation of a female ruler.