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430 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 bibliographies accompanying each essay. The volume would also serve as a useful reader for students. (MARGUERITE CHIARENZA) Hayden B.J. Maginnis. Painting in the Age ofGiotto: A Hisfon'cal Reevaluation Pennsylvania State University Press. 238. 128 illus. us$55.oo A historian sits amidst a tremendous amount of puzzle pieces. Some are of vibrant, discernible colours, some faded, others illegible or even blank Whenever he encounters one of many lacunae, he takes a pair of scissors and cuts the illegible or blank pieces into the required, but missing, shapes. Periodically, he is provided with improved schemes for the pieces to be put into place. Inevitably, the historian becomes aware of the changing patterns. Moreover, while questioning his task, he realizes that he himself is a fragment of the puzzle. Hence he now attempts not only to solve the puzzle but also to reveal the history of its patterns, and his· role as problem solver ... Similarly, Maginnis has put himself in front of a tremendous task His contribution is made up of fragments (three chapters appeared as standalone artides before the book was conceived), and he is well aware of his role. His book is the latest but certainly not the last word on the phenomenon of Giotto and his style. The titles of these books, with smaJl comments regarding their contents, already fill two volumes. It is clear that Giotto problems are not just art-historical issues reserved for Dugento or Giotto specialists but instead serve as a seismograph defining new directions of art-historical inquiry into the pictorial evidence. On the one hand, wisely, Maginnis first delivers no new history, but rather his view of the history of the history of Giotto research, as it was shaped during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. On the other, he cannot resist announcing a new art history of the Trecento, in his terms. He argues that, if art has a history, it is because there is a history of style, and that to establish a reasonable concordance of the two, i. e. that history and the history of scholarship, is the art historian's task Since the main provider of truth and fiction regarding Giotto was Vasari and his 'Lives,' his Giotto visi.on and its function within his artists' biographies forms the core of the first chapter, which is then followed by the audit of Vasari commentators, starting with Baldinucci, encompassing Della Valle, Da Morrona, Crowe, and Cavalcaselle, and finally settling with Berenson; a fine and critical synopsis of the main echoes of Vasari's influential ideas. Chapter 3 drops somewhat out of the general scheme of the book and celebrates Duccio's Rucellai Madonna, formerly attributed to Cimabue. Whether it really was the most beautiful panel picture of the Dugento is difficult to say in the light of the significant losses and scarce evidence. As welt it may be disputed that Giotto learned more from Duccio than from Cimabue. Certainly, the understanding of these first chapters requires an intimate but rare HUMANITIES 431 familiarity with Giotto and his time. However, chapter 5 binds many names, places, and historical strings together and ·is probably the most brilliant part of the book: it heralds the New Art as a new kind of referential to the viewer1 S world. This concept was more than a decade ago brought forward from different points of view by equally brilliant scholars, such as Chiara Frugoni (1983/91), James H. Stubblebine (1985), and Hans Belting (198s/89)- Why does Maginnis's evaluation of scholarship not reach into his own presence? His emphas]s is on the new naturabsm in art1 and the crucial role of the Franciscans as catalyst. In his subchapters 'The Eloquence of Art' and 'Evidence of Continuities/ Maginnis corroborates his vision of the new Trecento art, and chapter 7, /Words and Images/ examines the shifting relation of (Latin and vernacular) words and inscriptions within pictures. The following scrutiny of the mid-century and mannered style is actua1ly a complex discussion of M. Meiss's Painting in Florence and Sie11a after the Black Death (1951) and the phenomenon of a stylistic break with the past. Magirmis...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 430-431
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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