Artibus et Historiae no. 71 (XXXVI), 2015

252 x 232 mm
ISSN 0391-9064

DANIEL SAVOY - Keeping the Myth Alive: Andrea Dandolo and the Preservation of Justice at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice (pp. 9-29)

Keeping the Myth Alive: Andrea Dandolo and the Preservation of Justice at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice

This essay analyzes the façade of the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, with a focus on its representation of Venetian political identity. It proposes that the main theme of the façade’s renowned figural sculpture – that the Venetian government was a divine and eternal agent of justice – was also expressed in the structure’s architectural design and execution. In this view, the divine permanence of Venetian justice was conveyed in the formal harmony of the exterior, which was achieved through a unified design as well as an unusual yet documented attempt to preserve that design for nearly a century after its inception. Archival, literary, and architectural evidence suggests a connection between the project and the mythographical doctrine of Doge Andrea Dandolo (1343–1354), who credited the ducal office with securing the divine immortality of the Venetian state through its relentless defence of justice. In preserving the exterior of the ducal palace, Dandolo and his successors sought to maintain the integrity of this governmental image, an approach that would later become common in the patronage of Venetian governmental buildings.

CAROL HERSELLE KRINSKY - Why Hand G of the Turin-Milan Hours Was Not Jan van Eyck (pp. 31-60)

Why Hand G of the Turin-Milan Hours Was Not Jan van Eyck

The Turin-Milan Hours, a book of prayers and masses, contains images executed by multiple hands. One, known as Hand G, is often thought to be Jan van Eyck. Five miniatures – some scholars include two more – are attributed to Hand G. They show refined execution with delicate detail, rich color, light reflections, and atmospheric effects. Some contain heraldry that suggests ownership by Duke John of Bavaria, for whom Jan van Eyck worked in 1422–1424. Many scholars propose that Jan painted the miniatures before John’s death at the start of January 1425. They would then be the artist’s earliest known works.

However, information offered by the heraldry is inconclusive. Tiny, usually unnoticed armorials in the Birth of John the Baptist miniature are more likely to belong to the person who commissioned these images. Hand G’s compositions show motifs in common circulation, probably through model books that were standard workshop tools; Jan van Eyck’s certain works are more original. Some of Hand G’s images depend upon prototypes of the later 1440s or early 1450s by Rogier van der Weyden and Petrus Christus. In some miniatures, the subject matter is not clearly represented, and even misunderstood; we think of Jan van Eyck as understanding his subjects, however original some of them were. Moreover, the artistic quality varies in this group of miniatures.

It is concluded that the Jan van Eyck whom we know from his larger paintings is not Hand G. The latter was a talented artist, perhaps initially trained by Jan van Eyck, who worked with Hands F through K c. 1450, to paint unbound leaves bought by the young male patron seen in miniatures by other hands.

KATARZYNA KRZYŻAGÓRSKA-PISAREK - La Bella Principessa – Arguments against the Attribution to Leonardo (pp. 61-89)

La Bella Principessa – Arguments against the Attribution to Leonardo

A cutting-edge and controversial attribution of a drawing known as La Bella Principessa, to Leonardo da Vinci, reported in the press worldwide, makes an interesting case of contemporary connoisseurship. Unfortunately, only studies in favour of the attribution have been published so far in the form of books (M. Kemp and P. Cotte; A. Vezzosi; P. Silverman), articles (C. Geddo, M. Gregori, D. R. E. Wright) and web material (Lumiere Technology). Nevertheless, the attribution has not been unanimously accepted.

The purpose of this paper is to systematically examine all the arguments against the attribution, as well as making comparisons with indisputable works by Leonardo, which have so far been lacking.

A careful and detailed analysis of all the evidence available discloses a number of significant problems and contradictions, which undermine the attribution. The paper will show that neither the identification of the sitter as Bianca Giovanna Sforza, put forward by Kemp, nor the theory of the Sforziad manuscript in Warsaw, proposed by Wright, have any solid foundations.

The paper also discusses the Marchig provenance, the style and technique of the drawing, the problem with the dating, and demonstrates why all these factors cast doubts on this attribution. A number of works by Leonardo da Vinci and de Predis, as well as a sculpted bust by Cristoforo Romano, are suggested as possible sources for the drawing.

PAUL JOANNIDES - Revival or Continuity? Three Turns about Pontormo (pp. 91-112)

Revival or Continuity? Three Turns about Pontormo

This article is divided into three parts, all of which concern paintings by, formerly attributed to, or associated with Pontormo. The first part treats the well-known predella in Dublin which has been attributed, in turn, to Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, the circle of Pontormo, Maso da San Friano, Mirabello Cavalori, and Carlo Portelli; the author argues, in part on the grounds of the predella’s Perugian provenance, in part on a nineteenth-century reference to it, and in part on its visual sources, that the predella is in fact by the Perugian painter Domenico Alfani and that it was originally placed beneath his Nativity with St Anne now in the National Gallery of Umbria, Perugia, a work of the mid-1530s.

The second section discusses the small painting in the National Gallery, London, known as the Conversation which, traditionally attributed to Pontormo, was in the 1960s given alternatively to Andrea Lilio and to Mirabello Cavalori; that to Lilio is now superseded but the latter, to Mirabello, is currently upheld by the gallery. Arguments are advanced against this attribution and the author contends, on the grounds of the painting’s forms, mise-en-scène and colour that it is indeed a minor work by Pontormo, datable to the first half of the 1520s. The third part focuses on the small panel of the Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Jerome and two Angels in the Uffizi, traditionally given to Pontormo but now generally accepted as an early work by Bronzino, painted under Pontormo’s influence,  but which, in recent years, has also been shifted to Cavalori. The author argues in favour of maintaining the attribution to Bronzino, in part by reference a drawing by Pontormo now in the Prince’s Gate Collection of the Courtauld Institute.

MARCIN FABIAŃSKI - The Iconography of Jupiter Painting Butterflies by Dosso Dossi, that is, Alfonso d’Este’s Dream of Spring (pp. 113-124)

 The Iconography of Jupiter Painting Butterflies by Dosso Dossi, that is, Alfonso d’Este’s Dream of Spring

The iconography of the Dosso Jupiter Painting Butterflies, believed to be a disguised portrait of Alfonso I d’Este of Ferrara, was probably based on a programme compiled by a Ferrarese humanist Celio Calcagnini. The author of the invenzione drew his ideas from various passages by Alberti, Ovid, Lucian and those of Caspar Ursinus Velius, known to the educated public at the court. The artist represented Jupiter dreaming of Flora, or spring, symbolized by flower wreaths and butterflies, whose wings are covered by colours as they grow. Rather than painting, the god with closed eyes is actually dreaming, whereas Mercury protects his quiet by making a gesture of silence to Aurora. The latter’s attitude expresses deep respect and obedience. With her right arm she stops the solar chariot hidden behind.

MICHELE DANIELI - Four Paintings by Scarsellino in the Canonici Collection and their Figurative Sources (pp. 125-144)

Four Paintings by Scarsellino in the Canonici Collection and their Figurative Sources

In 1632 several paintings by Scarsellino, including four panels with Biblical scenes, formed part of the collection of Roberto Canonici in Ferrara. Three of them are now in the Pallavicini Gallery in Rome and the Musée des Augustins of Toulouse, while the last one, The Offering of Noah, is lost.

The present article presents two unpublished paintings in a private collection: Joseph Sold by his Brothers, a copy of one of the Pallavicini panels, and the other one is the missing scene with The Offering of Noah. Thus, the series is complete, at least iconographically. The author of the two paintings is not Scarsellino, but his pupil Camillo Ricci.

Scarsellino’s four Biblical scenes were inspired by some engravings published by the Sadeler family between 1580 and 1583. Those engravings were part of a large and ambitious project of Old Testament stories, interrupted and resumed several times. On this occasion, a group of twenty-five prints has been brought together: without considering the whole Sadeler project, it is impossible to understand the meaning of the figurative sources.

The reason why Scarsellino decided to copy the Sadeler prints is not entirely clear, as it seems there were little (if any) relationship between the Ferrarese painter and the Flemish engravers. The only evidence of a connection is a print that Raphael Sadeler executed after a painting by Scarsellino, now in the Borghese Gallery. This print is a key to the understanding of the brief collaboration of the artists: it is not dated, but is dedicated to Bonifacio Bevilacqua who became a cardinal in 1599, and a chronology around 1599 for both of the Borghese painting and the Canonici panels can be inferred.

Finally, there is the story of a misunderstanding concerning the Madonna della Pappa by the Sienese Francesco Vanni. A copy of this famous painting in the Galleria Nazionale in Parma has for a long time been attributed to Scarsellino. The Parma canvas has generated a wrong tradition of attribution which is now difficult to be corrected.

STEVEN F. OSTROW - Pietro Tacca and his Quattro Mori: The Beauty and Identity of the Slaves (pp. 145-180)

Pietro Tacca and his Quattro Mori: The Beauty and Identity of the Slaves

The colossal bronze statues of four Ottoman slaves, one of whom is a black African, that Pietro Tacca added in the 1620s to the Monument to Ferdinando I de’ Medici in Livorno have become touchstones in the literature on the image of the ‘other’ in early-modern European art. Contributing to their canonical status is the fact that the earliest sources on the monument tell us that two of the statues depict specific galley slaves: a ‘Turkish Moor […] nicknamed Morgiano, who […] was very beautiful’ and a ‘robust old Saletino named Alì’. This essay reviews the history of the monument and offers new documentary evidence in support of the actual existence of ‘Morgiano’ and ‘Alì’. It then explores the implications of the unprecedented rhetoric of beauty used to describe ‘Morgiano’ in the early sources, and concludes with a consideration of the monument’s reception – both literary and visual – from the mid-seventeenth century until today.

KRZYSZTOF J. CZYŻEWSKI and MAREK WALCZAK - The Monuments with Portrait Busts of the Bishops of Cracow: On the History of the Reception of Roman Baroque Models of Sepulchral Art in Poland (Bernini – Algardi – Rossi) (pp. 181-223)

The Monuments with Portrait Busts of the Bishops of Cracow: On the History of the Reception of Roman Baroque Models of Sepulchral Art in Poland (Bernini – Algardi – Rossi)

In the period following the Council of Trent, iconographic formulas used in sepulchral art were undergoing major transformations. These developments were also reflected in the art of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, two countries joined together by a political union into one state, governed by an exceptional political system and known as the Commonwealth of Both Nations. The bishopric see of Cracow – until the beginning of the seventeenth century, a capital city and royal residence – formally ranked third in the hierarchic system of Polish dioceses, after the metropolitan sees of Gniezno and Lvov. In reality, however, the bishops of Cracow, thanks to their enormous wealth, were second only to the archbishops of Gniezno. And it is in Cracow that a group of monuments with portrait busts of local bishops, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, unparalleled in Central Europe, has survived. They are a manifest testimony to the ambitions of the hierarchs who deliberately employed artistic solutions derived from the papal Rome to emphasise their own prestige. Some of the memorials count among the earliest and most accomplished examples outside Rome of the assimilation of the ‘realist revolution’ in portrait sculpture developed in the circle of Gianlorenzo Bernini. Yet, so far they have not been given their due in the literature on European Baroque sculpture.

The paper examines mainly four monuments of Cracow bishops: Marcin Szyszkowski, Piotr Gembicki, Bishop Jan Małachowski and Kazimierz Łubieński, set up in a unique and meaningful arrangement in the crossing of Cracow Cathedral around the altar housing the relics of St Stanislaus, Poland’s major patron saint. All of these aedicular structures bear portrait busts of the hierarchs which are a telling testimony to Roman influences in Cracow sculpture of the period, some of them being the works of Italian artists, Giovanni Battista Gisleni and Giovanni Francesco de’ Rossi, called La Vecchietta. The paper discusses the portrait busts against a broad background of the art of the Commonwealth of Both Nations and the developments in Roman sculpture of the period, pointing to particular examples that may have served as sources of inspiration for the Cracow portrait busts.

BARBARA HRYSZKO - Alexandre Ubeleski (Ubelesqui): The Œuvre of the Painter and the Definition of his Style (pp. 226-280)

Alexandre Ubeleski (Ubelesqui): The Œuvre of the Painter and the Definition of his Style

The purpose of this article is to identify the undisputed works of Alexandre Ubeleski (1649/1651–21 April 1718), a painter of Polish origin, who worked in the service of Louis XIV and was affiliated with the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. A number of facts concerning the painter’s life were established on the basis of archival documentation. Thanks to the archival sources, history of individual works and the analysis of the painter’s signatures it was possible to identify Ubeleski’s output consisting of forty-four works, including: seven paintings, twenty preparatory drawings for paintings and seventeen académies. Another twenty-eight works are documented in prints and over fifty-three works are known only from written sources. Although the surviving works constitute merely a small percentage of the artist’s total output, they may serve as evidence in defining his style. One may hope that defining the painter’s style and the common element of all of his paintings and drawings shall serve as a basis for the future attribution of works that may appear, for instance, in the antiquarian trade.

The painter was one of many artists at the time whose work was strictly defined by the academic canon. Ubeleski’s style was fundamentally influenced by his studies at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. This very institution was his basic source of inspiration. It was there that the artist learned about the works of great masters. The classical style and the preponderance of drawing in his works contributed to his early successes which started his academic career, and gained him the chair of a professor. Ubeleski’s artistic output is a representative sample of the French academic art in the reign of Louis XIV. The nature of his œuvre indicates that he was one of the Poussinistes, who valued classical models of great predecessors over creative experiments.

JESPER SVENNINGSEN - Mattia Preti’s Vault in Saint John’s, Valletta: New Light on a Complex Iconography (pp. 282-295)

Mattia Preti’s Vault in Saint John’s, Valletta: New Light on a Complex Iconography

The article aims at casting new light on Mattia Preti’s well-known decoration of the vault of the conventual church of the Knight Hospitallers, now the Co-cathedral of Valletta. To a modern viewer the iconography of the decoration is all but simple. The iconographic scheme, it is argued, seeks to claim a nobler pedigree to the Order of Saint John by juxtaposing episodes from the life of the Baptist with portraits of individual knights, who by virtue of their deeds or destiny form clear analogies with the scriptures. The precursor of Christ is thus effectively established as precursor to the Order and the knights in turn become post-figurations of the Baptist. This theme of ideological post-figuration should be seen as an extension of the way in which the knights were taught to see the laws and virtues of the Order represented in visual forms.

JOSEPH MANCA - British Landscape Gardening, Italian Renaissance Painting, and the Grand Tour (pp. 297-322)

British Landscape Gardening, Italian Renaissance Painting, and the Grand Tour

The rise of naturalistic, informal gardening in eighteenth-century Britain was an extraordinary development in the history of art. The British of the time touted the originality of the style, and they acknowledged few influences. We consider here the role played by one model for the new manner, namely, landscapes present in Italian Renaissance painting. Modern literature has neglected this source, and emphasized instead, for example, the influence of Asian gardens or seventeenth-century landscape painters such as Claude Lorrain. The present article suggests that awareness of Italian Renaissance pictures helped paved the way for those British gardeners, critics, theorists, and landowners who adopted or accepted the new natural style. Indeed, the great age of eighteenth-century landscape gardening coincided with the era of the first flourishing of the Grand Tour and of expanded collecting by the British of Renaissance art. We give special emphasis here to William Kent, whose travels within Italy are well-documented, and who was especially important in the development of landscape gardening of his century.