Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Volume 43, 2012
pp. 115-131 | 10.1353/cjm.2012.0020
By contextualizing a reliquary panel by Tommaso da Modena within the interrelated artistic, scientific, and religious trends and practices of fourteenth-century Italy, a better understanding of the ways such a devotional aid was received comes to light. This article considers how the reliquary panel’s material, composition, and decorative techniques could have resonated with aspects of Trecento visuality and devotion (e.g., the production of eyeglasses, debates about the Beatific Vision, Ugo Panciera’s Treatise on Perfection, and the Franciscan theology of light). It pays particular attention to the panel’s incorporation of verre églomisé, a technique that experienced a significant revival during the Trecento and which was recommended by Cennino Cennini's for decorating reliquaries. Such an investigation demonstrates how Tommaso’s panel, and others like it, could have capitalized on the growing interest in the sense of sight and optics to affect spiritual insight.