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Reviewed by:
  • Drawing Relationships in Northern Italian Renaissance Art: Patronage and Theories of Invention
  • John T. Paoletti
Giancarla Periti , ed. Drawing Relationships in Northern Italian Renaissance Art: Patronage and Theories of Invention. Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004. xvi + 236 pp. index. illus. bibl. $99.95. ISBN: 0-7546-0658-9.

This volume contains the lectures given at a conference organized by its editor at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome in July 2000. There are eight conference papers and an introductory chapter by Charles Dempsey noting the vitality of studies in north Italian art of the sixteenth century and the importance of the [End Page 595] maniera devota as a stylistic for painting of the Catholic reform. There is a curious sense in reading these essays of being in a time warp, transported back into what one might call a classic Kunstgeschichte of sixty years ago. That comment is not offered as a criticism, but as a response to those who think that the discipline of art history has been hijacked by the new methodological strategies of the past thirty years.

A number of the essays are closely focused and learned iconographical investigations of their subjects, most often related to contemporary literature, perhaps not surprising insofar as three of the authors received their doctoral degrees from The Johns Hopkins University. Stanko Kokole writes about the Tomb of the Ancestors with its figure of Minerva in the Tempio Malatestiano, connecting the imagery with the Diosymposis of Basinio da Parma, one of Sigismondo Malatesta's court humanists. Alessandra Galizzi Kroegel considers the iconography of an altarpiece in Cesena (ca. 1513–18) by Girolamo Genga and connects the dispersed predella panels of the history of St. Augustine to Augustinian support of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the subject of the main panel of the painting. Essays by Giancarla Periti on Correggio's Camera di San Paolo and by Mary Vaccaro on Parmigianino's frescoes at Fontanellato are each tied to commissions for women. While deeply indebted to the recent investigations of the role of gender in the visual arts, these two essays are even more representative of classic studies in iconographical interpretation. Periti convincingly argues for the use of the literary genre of the aenigmata in Correggio's room for the abbess Giovanna da Piacenza. There, what she calls the "poetics of brevitas" governs the imagery and participates in humanist traditions of Parma, including a fascination with hieroglyphs. Mary Vaccaro connects the Actaeon imagery of Fontanellato to birth salvers and discusses the room as quarters for Paola Gonzaga, deftly threading her feminist interpretation into the larger iconographic study, happily witnessing how integral feminist studies have become to the discipline of art history.

Marzia Faietti resituates consideration of Amico Aspertini from a student of classical antiquity to a painter of influential Christological and Franciscan imagery and the devotio moderna. Carolyn Smyth reads Pordenone's Passion frescoes in the Cremona cathedral as part of the realism of reform in northern Italian painting. Alessandra Sarchi discusses the fresco decorations of Alberto Pio da Carpi's studiolo in Carpi within the iconography of the Muses and attributes it to the painter Bernardino Loschi, active in other commissions in Carpi.

Giovanna Perini's essay on "Emilian Seicento Art Literature and the Transition from Fifteenth- to Sixteenth-Century Art" is a clear and compelling exposition of the differences between Vasari's central Italian historiography and the history of art written by northern writers. It should be required reading both as a model for succinct presentation and as a window onto the possibilities for rewriting the history of Italian art — especially for figures like Correggio who don't quite "fit" the Vasarian model. She smartly indicates how Emilia-Romagna was part of the papal territories in the sixteenth century and, thus, how the Roman style of Raphael could be used as an undergirding for local art. At the same time she [End Page 596] carefully delineates the points of divergence in Emilian painting from this model, based not simply on style, but on the positioning of Francesco Francia as a founder of Bolognese painting in the modern manner based on Carlo Cesare Malvasia's Felsina Pittrice (1678...


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pp. 595-597
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Archived 2009
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