Art of the Renaissance

  • Since Tino di Camaino, a Sienese carver and architect, came to the Anjou Court the developmentof the art of sculpture in the Medieval and Renaissance Naples would be always, while chronologically and style-wise discrete, marked by strong Tuscan presence. In the 1320–1330s, Tino’s remarkable style became the style-forming for the Gothic Napoletan sculpture, primarily memorial, which to a certain extent, interpreted the art of his teacher Giovanni Pisano. However, it was not the only style line existing in the Napoletan sculpture in the mid-Trecento. The art of Pacio and Giovanni Bertini gives an example of combination of some traits of Tino’s manner and more classical aspirations inspired by the Roman Proto-Renaissance sculpture (such as Arnolfo di Cambio) and the Florentine sculpture of the 1330s (Andrea Pisano). Descendants from Andrea Pisano’s workshop and mentioned in Napoletan documents as marmorarii fratres and unknown in Florence, they created the most prominent sculptural complex of the 14th-century Naples in both programmatic and artistic relevance. This is the grand tomb of the King Robert Anjou in the Franciscan convent of Santa Chiara (started in 1343). Besides, a number of fragments in different memorial complexes of the same monastery Santa Chiara, in the church Sant’Andrea alla Zecca, and in Certosa di San Martino are attributed to the brothers. The critics of the mid-20th century tried to show the creative individuality of each one. In some cases they evidently completed the projects started by Tino di Camaino, finding themselves in the predetermined style context as in the case with the monumental king’s tomb. The most interesting example of the independent style of the two brothers, where the Florentine language and, first of all, the décor of the Florentine campanile’s lower circle made by Andrea Pisano, appeared more prominently, are the reliefs depicting the history of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which probably used to decorate the screen of the Santa Chiara church and was severely damaged during the bombing in 1943 (now stored in the monastery museum). They reveal a very compact compositional approach, a very characteristic figure and face type, a strong interest to the landscape, architectural and interior details as to the citations from the Antiquity. A comparative analysis of these compositions with the campanile’s decoration raises the issue of participation of Pacio or at least the younger brother Giovanni in making the Florentine reliefs within the Pisano workshop.

  • Theatrical performances that accompanied important Church festivals have been an integral part of European culture since the early Middle Ages. Their scenography and machinery, interpretation of subjects, decorative design had a significant impact on the development of Renaissance painting. This article considers the impact of images of religious mysteries on the altar painting of the first half of the Quattrocento on the example of the works created by a Sienese artist Stefano di Giovanni da Cortona (Sassetta). Siena was one of the Tuscan centers of the Renaissance that were especially active in the maintenance and decoration of feasts, including those associated with the celebration of recently canonized local saints (St. Bernardine, later St. Catherine of Siena). The Gothic style of Sassetta allowed the artist to figuratively and expressively interpret the impressions that he could get while watching one of the religious mysteries: the choir singing, actors’ movements, the machinery of the feast. Among Sassetta’s works which traced the influence of early Renaissance theatrical performances are a fragment of the altar of the Eucharist with the image of St. Anthony, images of the Ascension of the Virgin, the central panel of the San Sepolcro altarpiece dedicated to St. Francis.

  • The growing attention to humanistic culture in 15th-century Italy led to the emergence of figures that came from ancient poetry and history. In the paintings on ancient plots artists visualized ideals of morality, the nobility of deeds, and relationship between the fate of human, and the chosen life path. In the circle of most popular female characters in Quattrocento secular painting was the image of Dido, legendary Carthaginian Queen. Her story was known in Renaissance Italy in several versions: from the writings of ancient historians, Roman poetry, medieval knightly novels. The essay attempts to show diversity of semantic contexts that determined Dido’s tragic image interpretations in Quattrocento Italian painting.The features of artistic embodiment of legendary and poetic plots are considered on domestic narrative paintings (wedding chests of the workshops Apollonio di Giovanni, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini), and compositions of Liberale da Verona and Andrea Mantegna. The article focuses on important principles in visual representation of images: the structure of pictorial narrative, expressive means, characteristic attributes. 

  • In the 15th–16th centuries, the court of Ferrara was famous throughout Europe for its luxury and wealth because of the “policy of magnificence” methodically conducted by the Este rulers. One of the important principles of the Este’s cultural policy was the preservation of the late medieval traditions, which were expressed in customs, literature and fine arts of the Ferrara court. Sometimes the images of the late medieval culture became vehicles for the new humanistic ideas. The Ferrara’s patron saints — St. George and St. Maurelius — were considered the symbols of succession from the Middle Ages to the Modern Time for the city. However, already during the Early Renaissance, the figures of these saints gradually became associated not only with the city, but also with the members of the ruling dynasty. It is important to take into account that the “policy of magnificence”, conducted by the Estensi, was not limited solely to secular culture. On the contrary, piety and church patronage were considered the most important virtues of a monarch. Therefore St. George, who was regarded as embodiment of an ideal Christian knight, probably was simultaneously associated with the ruler of Ferrara, while St. Maurelius could personify the bishop, whose throne was also often occupied by the Este family members or those of their courtiers’ families. The iconographic and iconological analysis of these saints’ images in the visual arts and culture of Renaissance Ferrara allows us to demonstrate synthesis of courtly, Christian and humanistic components of the “policy of magnificence” of the Este dynasty.

  • In the North Italian painting of the edge of the 15th–16th centuries a group of painted altarpieces may be singled out to present their certain typological similarity. Put in a chronological order, those are —the Politico del Duomo di Camerino by Carlo Crivelli (1493), the “Madonna della Vittoria” (1496), the “PalaTrivulzio” (1497) by Andrea Mantegna, the “San Giobbe Altar” (1487), the “Trittico dei Frari” (1488), and the “Pala di San Zaccaria” by Giovanni Bellini (1505). Almost all of the above-mentioned pieces are large altars composed by their authors as neither triptych nor polyptych. The reason for that was the intentionto create a type of composition united exclusively by the common open space. The milieu is organized not by architecture, but a kind of a semi-circular apse, or something alike, and there is no doubt that an artist aimed at showing an open space constructed without any illusionistic effect. Another significant specificityof the discussed altars is also connected with spatial wholeness: the characters’ interrelations, as well as their relations  with all compositional elements, are based not on coordinating principles, as was specific of the mid-Quattrocento and its second half, but on subordinating ones. It seems likely that these observations allow us to highlight certain peculiarities, which were manifested in the works of those artists whose art generally belongs to Quattrocento. At the edge of the 15th and 16th centuries their monumental altarpieces present the tendency from which classical style originates. This is equally evident in paintings of such different artists as Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna or Carlo Crivelli.

  • In the lower right corner of Michelangelo’s drawing from the British Museum, he wrote a brief instruction for his faithful but not outstanding pupil Antonio Mini: “Draw Antonio, draw Antonio. Draw and do not waste time” (ca. 1524). Judging by the unsuccessful attempt of Mini to copy Michelangelo’s sketch presented on the same sheet, he lacked practice and understanding of basics of the art of drawing. However, neither eight years spent in the house of Michelangelo, nor the careful guidance of his teacher made Antonio an artist. The distinction between the concepts of the general style of the workshop and professional personal authorship, key to the beginning of the 16th century, had a clear influence on the creative method of Michelangelo. Possessing a closed and conflicting character, considering sculpture his main vocation, he preferred individual work with drawings to the collective work of a workshop. His approach to organizing thework on painting did not presuppose the presence of pupils as well. In addition, Buonarroti sincerely despised the “mechanical’’ techniques that accompany the teaching of drawing, urged his colleagues to trust only their own eyes and implied innate talent. This position excluded for Michelangelo’s wards the opportunity to facilitate the mastering of drawing techniques. In this article, we will clarify what the goal of Michelangelo was when he devoted a lot of time to the education of young men and discuss his pedagogical methods. The study of drawings and student copies will shed light on the intimate exchange between the master and his pupils.

  • The concept of imitatio in the context of the aesthetic Renaissance thought and later in the artistic practice itself acquired the value of compositional and stylistic imitation of the famous artworks by other artists and also entailed the ability to interpret the original sample in accordance with the individual artistic manner. Such method reaches its heyday in the works of draftsmen of the High Renaissance.

    A very illustrative example in the context of theoretical argumentation of the method of imitation and its practical implementation can be found in the oeuvre of Jacopo Pontormo. In his “Lives”, Vasari gives the best characteristics of Pontormo’s picturesque manner. However, the artist’s creative activity experiences strong changes (and not in the better way, according to Vasari), due to his familiarity with the engravings of Dürer.This process also affected Pontormo and had an undeniable impact on the further development of his painting style. Analyzing the corpus of Pontormo’s drawings relating to the frescoes of the Certosa del Galluzzo, we can see how the study of the prints of Dürer influenced the stylistic features of the artist’s graphic manner of the 1520s (“The Procession to Calvary”, “Agony in the Garden”, “The Supper at Emmaus”). The example of Pontormo’s graphic heritage allows us to assess the importance of the problem of imitation as an artistic technique for the study of the artist’s creative method, of his artistic interests and preferences, as well as of the influence that the style of Dürer’s engravings had on his works.

  • The article focuses on the studies of Rome ancient monuments carried out by French architectsin Rome in the period of the 1530–1550s. This activity has got a scarce record in historical documents, with the exception of Philibert Delorme’s treatise, which contains valuable information about the interests of its author, his contacts in Italian intellectual circles, his method of selecting and studying monuments, as well as the way of managing the teams of architects engaged in excavations and measurements of antiquities. Since other written sources shed no light on French masters, the main source of information can be found in the albums of drawings made in Rome and devoted to the study of ancient architecture. They form a sizeable array, comprising several large albums stored in the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Bavarian State Library in Munich — with total volume exceeding 500 sheets. The studies of recent years carried out by Bernd Kulawik allowed him to put forward a hypothesis about single origin of this entire archive as well as its connection to the research project of the Accademia della Virtù Claudio Tolomei run in the mid of 1540s in the context of preparing a complete topographical plan of ancient Rome with the reconstruction of all major monuments. The article aims to test this hypothesis by examining connections and correlations between the albums. Though the author has not found convincing evidence for the hypothesis of a single origin of the archive, she may see a unified method of studying and representing the ancient monuments. She believes this may be based on the connection between the authors of the archive and the St. Peter’s workshop, which ensured the continuity in the way of studying and representing the antiquities.

  • The paper concerns itself with two small marble reliefs depicting Apostles from the collection of Moscow State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Previously unpublished, the reliefs present a problem from an attributional standpoint. Having entered the Moscow Museum collection in 1934, they have been traditionally ascribed to an unknown Italian master of the 16th century, probably Venetian. Their original provenance, destination and even iconography remain unclear. Several iconographic and stylistic details preclude the author from accepting the traditional attribution, while new data gathered on provenance and a comparison of the reliefs in question with the reliefs of the pulpit in Santa Maria Assunta in Nola, near Naples, present interesting results. The pulpit in Nola, created by Giovanni da Nola (1478–1559), a pupil of Benedetto da Maiano, constitutes the closest visual analogy to the Moscow reliefs, yet it was heavily restored in the late 19th century by an accomplished Neapolitan sculptor Salvatore Cepparulo. This fact makes a late Ottocento dating for the Moscow reliefs equally possible.

  • The so called Lady at her Toilette by Giulio Romano from the Moscow Pushkin State Museumof Fine Arts has been conventionally regarded as an imitation of famous Fornarina by Raphael. Social aspectof its origins have not been explored and its function has been defined only generally as a portrait or a depiction of “courtesan” or “mistress”, the issues of its possible patron and original context have not been assessed. Close examination of Lady at her Toilette’s distinct visual details dismisses the seeming similarities with frivolous female images known as belle and reveals strong affinities with painterly wedding epithalamia, which clearly indicates its own function as a wedding painting presenting Venus bestowing blessing upon a new bride. Having established the work’s function in general, the author has attempted to define a possible patron of this wedding epithalamia. Giulio Romano’s artistic career shows his involvement in the wedding of the Duke of Mantua Federico II Gonzaga and Margherita Paleologa, which took place in 1531. As a court painter Giulio was responsible for major decorative works in the city and created, among other, the bride’s portrait (Royal Collection, Hampton Court, London). This portrait turns out to be the closest analogy to the Moscow “Lady” in terms of composition, style, painterly manner and even the facial features of the women. This, along with other similarities, unequivocally indicates that they were created as a set — as a wedding set that includes the portrait of the young spouse and an allegorical depiction of Venus.

  • One of the emblematic figures in the relationship between the Venetian Republic and the East is, without doubt, Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia, subsequently herself queen of the island, but, most importantly, ‘daughter’ of Venice. There are not many paintings depicting Caterina, produced either in her lifetime (1454–1510) or later. In all the works produced during her life, Caterina is depicted as a secular, royal figure, dressed in the Venetian manner of the time. In the works produced from the second half of the 16th century onwards, the Queen of Cyprus is depicted more freely, without any of the social stereotypes relating to her status. During the 1540s, Titian paints Caterina Cornaro as Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The artist’s well known painting, now in Florence, for the first time depicts the Queen wearing a rich, short-sleeved cloak. This garment, in many variations, was meant to mark a long series of paintings depicting Caterina Cornaro as well as other women of the East for the next century. But why does the Venetian artist choose to dress the Queen of Cyprus in this garment? Did Caterina Cornaro ever wear clothes of an Eastern type? How did other women of the East dress during that period? Drawing on the context laid out above, as well as the study of contemporary sources, I try to answer these questions bearing in mind the political and financial relationships between a dying Empire and one close to its peak. The works of Titian and his followers are critically compared to the portraits of Caterina Cornaro made during her lifetime, especially in the attire. At the same time, the cloak shown in Titian’s painting is compared to pictorial and other sources from the Ottoman world, in an effort to trace the Venetian artist’s inspiration.

  • The present article is devoted to studying the art of Ambrosius Holbein — the elder brother of Hans Holbein the Younger. He died at the age of 25 leaving behind only a small body of works  and he always remained in the shadow of his famous brother. The only monograph dedicated to Ambrosius Holbein was written more than 100 years ago. Generally, the artist is simply treated as the brother of the famous artist, Hans Holbein the Younger. The paper deals with attributed works of Ambrosius Holbein: graphic works will be presented, including the book graphics, wall-paintings and paintings. The “Portrait of a Young Man” from the Hermitage collection is the only work convincingly attributed to him. The author pays attention to the problem of identification of the young man depicted in this portrait. The paper shows that the art of Ambrosius Holbein, as well as his life, requires a far deeper study.

  • The Renaissance epoch in Portugal is commonly delineated chronologically as a period between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries. Historically it’s associated with a king Manuel I’s reign (1495–1521), and stylistically it’s known as the “Manueline” style, a capricious, whimsical national style, mingling together contrasting elements: a gothic one, Spanish “plateresque”, king Manuel symbols,encompassing heraldic as well as exotic ones, forged on the way of geographical discoveries and rushes to new horizons. And last but not least, a Renaissance element, North Italian and tramontane. Italian artists in Portugal played their crucial role (Andrea Sansovino), as well as local patrons, inspired by Italian experience when abroad (Alfonso Albuquerque); and those supervising local works, constantly in contact with Italians in Lisbon, a rapidly developing “new center of the world” (Antinio Carneiro). Along with exuberant monastic architecture (Hieronymites monastery in Belém, Pena monastery inSintra, convent of Christ in Tomar), the “Manueline” epoch dawn paved the way for a new urban developmentin general, and palaces’ construction and reorganization, in particular. Unfortunately, a series of earthquakes (16th–18th centuries) resulted in a global demolition of local Renaissance monuments and documents.

    On one hand, T. Kaptereva scientific contribution to a study of Renaissance Portugal should be noted. On the other, modern European (K. Lawe, L. Fernández-González, A. Jordan Gschwend) new reconstructions and research of Renaissance architecture in the region rests on recent artistic discoveries. They provide a new chance of the “Manueline” style architecture understanding.

    Here the first problem is to shape a kind of reconstruction and description of Renaissance Lisbon urban ensembles (as Rua Nova), royal residences (Santos, Royal palace on the Tagus river bank, palace of Sintra), private and public buildings (casa dos Bicos), basing on miniatures, maps and paintings. The second task is to interpret (in cases possible) the above said monuments in the context of North Italian Renaissance architectural tradition (facades, porticoes, courts, vaults). Thirdly, the secular architecture in question is analyzed as linked to national identity and strengthening central power in Portugal of Manuel I.