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Art History Today
Midlands, United Kingdom
Professional Art Historian, Phd in Poussin,
Interests: music, art history, films, (classical through to rock), literature (mainly modern crime mystery).
Recent Activity
Slides. 1) View of Naples. 2) Tavolo Strozzi, Naples, 1464, tempera on panel, Capodimonte, Naples; details. 3) Map with key showing castles and churches. 4) Plan of Naples. 5) Pietro Cavallini, St John’s Assumption, 1309, fresco, Brancaccio Chapel, San Domenico Maggiore, Naples. 6) Follower of Giotto, Noli Me Tangere, c. 1310, fresco, Brancaccio Chapel, San Domenico Maggiore. 7) Raphael, Madonna of the Fish, 1512-14, oil on canvas transferred from wood, 215 x 158 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid. 8) Santi di Tito, Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli, 2nd half of 16th century, oil on panel, 104 x 85 cm, Palazzo Vecchio,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Mannerism in the Capodimonte:Parmigianino, Bedoli & Vasari. Parmigianino arrived from Parma in Rome in 1524 and immediately adapted his art to the first wave of mannerism in the city which included Polidoro who was pioneering a new form of classicism. Like Polidoro, Parmigianino also fled Rome in 1527 and went to Bologna, and thence back to Parma. There are about five paintings by Parmigianino in the Capodimonte, but this group was transferred from Alessandro’s palace in Parma to Naples in 1734, so they had no impact on local schools of painting during the renaissance. These include the “Antea,” probably a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Mannerism Goes South Whilst Sydney Freedberg’s Painting in Italy purports to be a survey of artistic phenomena during the sixteenth century, it is at heart an analysis of the origin, growth and diffusion of the artistic movement known as mannerism. Freedberg creates a category called “Post-Classical Experiment and the First Maniera” which occurs in central Italy between 1520-1535.[1] Maniera as explained by John Shearman is an Italian word that means style, though the subject is more complex than that.[2] Much of mannerist art was born in central Italy, particularly Florence and Rome with artists such as Pontormo, Rosso, Lotto and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Enigma of Polidoro di Caravaggio “What had been incipiently eccentric in Polidoro’s art in Rome emerged now as a deforming fantasy, verging on effects of caricature. A conscious exploration into anti-classicism is supported by devices of form and expression borrowed from the Flemish and Germanic works that made so large a part of the artistic culture of the Scillies.” Sydney Freedberg.[1] Sebastiano’s Christ was painted in refuge in Venice in 1528. Many artists had no option but to flee Rome and seek work (and safety) in some more sheltered berth. And Polidoro Caldara (Polidoro di Caravaggio, no relation to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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A Political, Artistic & Spiritual Crisis: The Sack of Rome of 1527. One of the finest portraits in the Capodimonte in Naples is Sebastiano del Piombo’s electrifying study of the Medici pope Clement VII. The abstraction and formal grandeur of this portrait, all conducing towards a mood of calm authority and even regal disdain, gives no sign of the calamity which would eventually strike Clement and his papacy- the Sack of Rome of 1527. Pope Clement VII had given his support to the Kingdom of France in an attempt to alter the balance of power in the region, and free... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Raphael in Southern Italy Unlike Leonardo whose influence on southern Italian art was channelled through his pupils’ works, Raphael’s art was known through actual pictures by the master commissioned by religious orders in Naples and Sicily. The first Raphael painting to arrive in Sicily was the Madonna of the Fish; - commissioned by church of San Domenico Maggiore, the title referring to the fish that Tobias carries to cure his father of blindness. Dating from Raphael’s Roman period, it looks back to the Florentine phase with its nod to painters like Andrea del Sarto and Fra Bartolommeo. It was probably... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Between Milan & Naples: Cesare da Sesto “But in the course of his career he had achieved a historical function of modest consequence by his eclecticism, as the agent of transmission of elements of Raphaelism to the north, and of Leonardism to the south of Italy.” Sydney Freedberg on Cesare da Sesto.[1] If we approach the problem of Milanese-Neapolitan links from the other direction- Leonardo trained pupils who travelled south- we have more evidence in the person of Cesare da Sesto (1477–1523). Named after Sesto Calende, his home town in Lombardy, Cesare is in the first rank of the Leonardeschi,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Leonardo’s Forgotten Neapolitan Pupil. Though Leonardo himself is documented in Rome, he never visited the mezzogiorno, though there are undeniable links between his workshops and that part of Italy. Working in Leonardo’s Milanese studio was a painter of the name of Francesco Napoletano (d. 1501). His most well-known picture was exhibited at the momentous Leonardo show in London in 2011-12.[1] This Virgin and Child (“The Madonna Lia”) (above) of about 1495 seems to be based on Leonardo’s own creations like the Virgin of the Rocks and the drawing Virgin with a Cat. Napoletano’s Madonna seems to have been derived from... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Spread of Renaissance Art to Naples & the South. “The provincial schools of Naples (and Messina) can claim small distinction in the first half of the sixteenth-century beyond that which Polidoro’s presence lent them. The general level of native art in early sixteenth-century Naples, before Polidoro’s time, was not only low in quality but more archaizing than in any other centre of fair size elsewhere in Italy.” Sydney Freedberg.[1] If one wanted proof of the neglect that Neapolitan art history has endured, one need only consult Sydney Freedberg’s large survey of painting in 16th century Italy. If one has... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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North & South: An Alternative View. “Or, to put it another way, why are politics so central to our understanding of Italian Renaissance culture? With all its wars, was there no Renaissance in Naples and the south?” John A. Marino.[1] The editors of a recent interdisciplinary volume on Naples introduce their topic by emphasising the “ “scholarly neglect” that has been the lot of Naples- and indeed the Italian south- for many centuries.[2] While much attention has been directed to and funding lavished on the “golden triangle” of Venice, Florence and Rome, there have been slim pickings- especially in renaissance... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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Early Renaissance Art in Naples in the 14th and 15th Century. As John T. Paoletti and Gary M. Radke say in their survey of art in medieval and renaissance Naples, the city was different from others since rather than boasting a prominent cathedral, the cityscape was dominated by the seaside stronghold of the kings of Naples- Castel Nuovo suggesting the wariness of insecure rulers rather than a court comfortable with its people.[1] This can be seen on the so-called Tavola Strozzi, a panorama of Naples on tempera dating from 1464 which also depicts major religious buildings like Santa Chiara. Some... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Art History Today
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The art critic Dore Ashton has died. I only knew her writings on Philip Guston which I think is what she was most known for. Appreciation from Hyperallergic. Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2017 at Art History Today
Slides. 1) Antonello de Messina, Portrait of a Man, thought to be a self-portrait, oil on panel, 25.5 cm, National Gallery, London, bought 1893. 2) Google maps: Italy and Sicily. 3) Google maps: Messina and Sicily. 4) View of the Messina Straits, Messina, Sicily. 5) Antonello, Sibiu Crucifixion, 1454-55, oil on wood, 39 x 23.5 cm, Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania. 6) Statue of Messina, Messina. 7) Messina Cathedral, Messina. 8) Porch, Messina Cathedral, 9) Anonymous Valencian master, Triumph of Death, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia in the Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo. 10) Palermo Cathedral, erected 1185. 11) Domenico and Antonello Gagini,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Final Return to Messina. In 1476 Antonello passed up an invitation from the Duke of Milan to settle or work there as a replacement for court portraitist Zanetto Bugatto; instead Antonello opted to return to Messina. We know of his presence in Messina because of a notarial document concerning the dowry of his daughter Caterinella. From that date until his death in 1479 Antonello was head of a thriving workshop in Sicily including his son Jacobello who had accompanied his father to Venice. Among these last works include his Portrait of a Man (Turin) with an obvious Sicilian physiognomy; but... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Antonello’s Portraits. It is believed that Antonello began to paint portraits in the late 1460s, preferring initially to use a Netherlandish model, i.e. bust portraits either seen from the front or in three-quarter view. The sitters were normally dressed in unostentatious clothing and placed against a black background. Antonello was less a painter of the humanist portrait resembling medals, coins or cameos, like Pisanello for example. In Northern Europe Jan van Eyck introduced the physiognomic portrait showing the character of the sitter, e.g. Portrait of a Man ('Léal Souvenir') in London; these were to find their way into Southern Italy... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Antonello’s Route to Venice. "one of the most excellent painted works either in or outside of Italy." Pietro Bon on the San Cassiano Altarpiece. Antonello made several trips to Venice; one is documented and the other is not. What would have drawn the painter was the presence of Sicilians living and working in Venice, one of whom seems to have invited Antonello to visit the city on the lagoon in late 1474, possibly incited by viewings of the Sicilian’s pictures which would become renowned in the city. During the time of the Venetian visits, Antonello’s style broadens; he finds new... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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A Brief Note on Antonello’s Influences. “The small panel of St. Jerome who, dressed in his cardinal's robes, reads in his study, is believed by some to come from the hand of Antonello from Messina, although more actually give it to Gianes [Jan van Eyck J or to Memling, the old Northern painter: and so it shows that style, even though the face is finished in an Italian manner as if it had been painted by the hand of Jacometto.” Marcantonio Michiel.” In the early 19th century the English connoisseur Thomas Dibdin mistook Hans Memling’s Portrait of a Medallist (Antwerp)... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Antonello and the Oil Painters of the North. In Vasari’s “Life of Antonello de Messina”, it is reported that on seeing an oil painting done for Alfonso I of Naples by Giovanni di Bruggia (Jan van Eyck), the Sicilian artist made a visit to Flanders to seek out the northern master who showed him the art of oil painting in exchange for Antonello showing him drawings done in “the Italian style.”[1] This is undoubtedly an invention of Vasari, and it is interesting to note in passing that the few existing drawings by Antonello show Flemish treatments of draped figures (Met,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Antonello, Colantonio & Painting in Renaissance Naples. Much of the information regarding Colantonio- and his relations with Antonello- rely upon the testimony of the Neapolitan humanist Pietro Summonte (1463–1526). In a letter from Summonte to the Venetian art expert Marcantonio Michiel details are given of Colantono’s artistic career including notification of the Flemish realism that was the hallmark of his paintings of which an example serving to illustrate this would be his own version of St Jerome (Capodimonte, Naples). Colantono’s St Jerome (above) is the subject that would make Antonello admired far beyond his native Sicily; and it was the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Antonello’s Family & Workshops in Messina. There is Antonello da Messina, a famous man; Giovanni Bellini, whose praises spread far, And Gentile, his brother; Cosimo Tura and his rival Ercole de Roberti, and many others I omit.” Giovanni Santi.[1] Antonello da Messina was born in the Sicilian town he is named after about 1430. Antonello’s birthdate is matter of speculation, but it was probably between 1425 and 1430. By at least 1457, he had established a workshop in Messina. His family were drawn from the business and trading communities of Messina; his grandfather Michele owned a brigantine; his grandmother Annuzza's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Behold the Man: A Short Overview of Antonello’s Career. "Antonello. A name that asserts itself with the urgency of great individuality, especially given the time when he worked; that urgency serves, however, not to separate him from this context but rather to increase our sense of his achievement as never before. His prominence in Sicilian society is especially remarkable when one realizes that his first successes in Messina came at the same time as Tommaso de Vigilia was working in Palermo, in fact, but perhaps even before that, as the Sicilian donkey carts were carrying the last Flamboyant Gothic retables... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
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Messina. Messina is never far from this painter’s mind as he evokes his hometown in the view of the straits in the Sibiu Crucifixion or the light of the Sicilian countryside in his masterpiece, the St Jerome in his Study. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was successively ruled by Goths from 476, then by the Byzantine Empire in 535, by the Arabs in 842, and in 1061 by the Norman brothers Robert Guiscard and Roger Guiscard (later count Roger I of Sicily). In 1189 the English King Richard I, ("The Lionheart") stopped at Messina en route... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Art History Today
1) Roman copy of Pericles in a Corinthian Hat (after a bronze original by Kresilas), marble, Vatican. 2) Roman copy of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia, (after an original by Timanthes 4 B.C.), 1st century A.D., discovered at Pompeii, now in Archaeological Museum, Naples. 3) Romulus, Remus and the She-Wolf, c 500-480 B.C., Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. 4) Ara Pacis Augustae, view from west, 13-9 B.C., previously Campus Martius, Ara Pacis Museum, from 1938. 5) Detail: Augustus and his Lictors, south frieze. 6) Detail: Marcus Agrippa & Imperial Family. 7) Detail: Marcus Agrippa, Livia, Drusus, Tiberius, the Young Antonia,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at Art History Today
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Stabiae. "On Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points. . . My uncle tried to allay the fears of his companions by repeatedly declaring that these were nothing but bonfires left by the peasants in their terror, or else empty houses on fire in the districts they had abandoned." Nephew of Pliny the Elder. Stabiae was an ancient Roman town situated about 4 km from Pompeii; consequently it was destroyed by volcanic ash in 79 A.D. Stabiae has not had a happy existence since before the volcano, it had already been destroyed by the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at Art History Today
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The Styles of Painting at Pompeii. The four Pompeian styles were identified by the German archaeologist August Mau (1840-1909) from the excavation of wall paintings at Pompeii. First style, also referred to as structural, incrustation or masonry style, was most popular from 200 BC until 80 BC. Simulation of marble (marble veneering), with other simulated elements (e.g. suspended alabaster discs in vertical lines, 'wooden' beams in yellow and 'pillars' and 'cornices' in white), and the use of vivid colour, both being a sign of wealth. Second style, architectural style, or 'illusionism' dominated the 1st century BC, where walls were decorated... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at Art History Today