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Imaging the Self in Renaissance Italy

January 30 to April 3, 1992 The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston, Massachusetts

Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Ill:

Imaging the Self zn Renaissance Italy

Hilliard T. Goldfarb Chief Curator

January 30 to April 3, 1992 The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston, Massachusetts



The breadth of Italian Renaissance holdings at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is remarkable. Diverse media, personal and regional schools of art, and stylistic periods are represented in depth. This small exhibition of Italian Renaissance objects has been organized to further the exploration of issues addressed by the first of our annual Isabella Stewart Gardner interdisciplinary symposia. The 1992 session, coordinated by Kathleen Weil-Garris Brandt, has adopted the topic "Imaging the Self in Renaissance Italy," and the selections for this catalogue reflect diverse ways in which art can present both the conscious intentions of self-projection and the unselfconscious dispositions operating within a cultural framework . My own intention is to challenge the viewer to appreciate the multivalent, contextual implications of the art works. The search for the originating intentions and dispositions of artists in the formal expressions of their subjects is both complex and elusive, and often the works address us on several levels of meaning, in multiple syntaxes. To explore the works according to the terms of one vernacular alone is to limit the meanings that they could have conveyed to the original viewer. The interpreter must be vigilant to the mindset of the period he is studying to avoid imposing a posterior language of meaning upon the subject. An artist expresses himself by the linguistic terms of a culture whose understanding of forms may vary as the culture does. Furthermore, the terminology itself may at any time function to convery several meanings. A case in point is the use of the Ganymede figure in the Renaissance, a homoerotic subject of rich classical and intellectual associations. It was appropriated by Michelangelo in his famous presentation drawings of Ganymede, Tityus, and the Risen Christ to Tommaso de'Cavalieri. Michelangelo also adapted the figure for his depictions of Adam and the drunken Noah in the Sistine Chapel and in his earlier marble of David. In evaluating Michelangelo's use of the Gannymede figure, "Are we then speaking of sexual anxiety, of Platonic transcendence, of typology, of an artistic paragone ? What is most important is that they can be represented simultaneously ...'~ 1 While the selection of objects serves to draw the viewers' attention to the religious, social, and political ambitions of artists or patrons, their personal or public selves, we must keep in mind that these images address us on many levels -- intentionally. The catagories selected for 1 Leonard Barkan, Transuming Passion: Ganymede and the Erotics of Hu manism, Stanford, 1991 , p . 98.


the presentations of each of the objects are not intended to preclude the applicability or relevance of the objects to other catagories cited or uncited. Of course, the artists of the Italian Renaissance were themselves aware of the issue of self-projection into their creations, even into portraiture -- especially into portraiture. This awareness is documented both in their artistic creations and in what they had to say about themselves and each other. One may assume that in certain cases the patron's choice of commissioned artist reflected, beyond any financial considerations, some recognition of the individual style of the artist and its appropriateness for the sitter. In other words the personal "stamp" of the artist, his self-imaging into a portrait by the very terms of his individual style, was appreciated in the selection of artists by sitters. The public esteem in which the artist may have been held was itself a reflection of the increasing emphasis upon the individual and the enhanced position of the artist that evolved during the period under study. In the literary context, Lorenzo Ghiberti's Commentarii, Ascanio Condivi's Vita di Michelangnolo Buonarroti (composed with the consultation of the artist), Giorgio Vasari's Le Vite, and Cellini's unfinished autobiography (d istributed in manuscript by the artist himself among his friends), are among the more celebrated examples of artistic self-imaging in print. Michelangelo is probably the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance who consciously constructed the terms of his own public image. If the evidence of his drawings, paintings, and sculptures were not sufficient documentation of his self-conscious formulation of style in terms of self-imaging, Michelangelo left us extensive testimony of his neo-Platonically formulated reflections and speculations on imaging the self in his own poetry. Since it's true that, in hard stone, one will at times make the image of someone else look like himself, I often make her dreary and ashen [squalido e smorto spesso], just as I'm made by this woman; and I seem to keep taking myself as a model, whenever I think of depicting her. I could well say that the stone in which I model her resembles her in its harsh hardness; but in any case I could not, while she scorns and destroys me, sculpt anything but my own tormented features. So, since art preserves the memory of beauty through the years, if she wants to last, she will make me glad, so that I'll make her beautifuJ.2

2 The poem is datable to about 1540-44, and the translation is that of Saslow. For the text and the original Italian, see James M. Saslow, The Poetry of Michelangelo. New Haven, 1991, no. 242, p. 409.


I. Humanism and the Glorification of the Self in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century L. M. Sleptzoff has noted that, "The originality of the artists of the fifteenth century was to stress the significance of man as an individual," and that their attitude itself "was influenced by currents of thought that had spread in the previous century: nominalist philosophy, mystical religious tendencies and, in the case of Italy, humanism."3 These currents led to the conflicting trends of exalting the individual physical specificity of the subject, while also seeking to emphasize the general, noble conceptions of man inspired by the reappreciation of classical Roman and pre-Christian thought through simplified, idealized likeness.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the most common pose for Italian portraiture in the first half of the fifteenth century was that of the profile bust. Philip Hendy wrote of A Young Man in a Scarlet Turban, which he attributed to Masaccio, "Painted between 1425 and 1427, this is one of the first of modern portraits ... .It exemplifies both the individualism to which Masaccio gave expression and the growing courage with which secular life was laying hold on the arts."4 The prototype of the monumental profile pose of the subject in antique medallions and coins has long been recognized and was one also adopted by Pisanello in the 1440s. The profile itself, besides its obvious and venerable antique reference, is highly functional in presenting a monumental, noble image of the subject, fundamentally reduced to contour, so that the salient features may be presented, yet emphasis upon the momentary and transient is transcended in a calm, non-confrontative, seemingly eternal pose. The result has been characterized by John PopeHennessy as not so much a realistic image, "but a schematic abstract of reality."5 Due to the wear of the surface in the Gardner painting that conceivably has resulted in the loss in the subtleties of lighting, atmospheric effects and spatial suggestion for which Masaccio's stylistic innovations were so celebrated, the painting's attribution to that master still has its defenders.6 The attribution has, however, been questioned, and in his classic study, The Portrait in the Renaissance, Pope-Hennessy simply defined the work as Florentine, second quarter of the fifteenth century.7 Paolo Uccello has also been suggested as a possible alternate attribution. Similar portrait figures of the profiles of young men wearing brightly colored turbans and set before neutral grounds, generally dated to the 1440s, exist in Washington, D.C., 3 L. M. Sleptzoff, Men or Supermen? The Italian Portrait in the Fifteenth Century, Jerusalem, 1978, p. 1. 4 Philip Hendy, European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 1974, p. 160. 5 John Pope-Hennessy, The Portrait in the Renaissance (Bollingen Series XX.XV, 12), New York, 1963, p. 35. 6 Hendy, pp. 160-61. 7 Pope-Hennessy, pp. 35-36, fig. 34.


Masaccio (attributed to), A Young Man in a Scarlet Turban 6

Chambery, New York, and elsewhere, and clearly constituted a convention.8 Furthermore, the costume, notably the use of white scarves worn with communal dress and the elaborate turban (vs. the tall, wrapped mazzocchio or a close-fitting bandanna), were fashionable in Florence during the later 1430s and the 1440s.9 Vasari does not mention independent easel portraits by Masaccio. Masaccio died in 1428. Nowhere is the classical, humanist tradition of the Renaissance profile portrait better exemplified than in the medal, a medium richly explored to this end and mastered by Pisanello. The first Italian medallic portrait in profile dates as early as about 1390.10 That isolated commemorative work, a portrait of Francesco I Carrara, lord of Padua, in scale and type clearly imitated Roman coinage. Another prototype for Pisanello may have been Alberti's bronze relief Self-Portrait (National Gallery of Art, ca. 1435, a medallike sculpture 201 x 136 mm). An outstanding characteristic of Pisanello's medals is the simplicity, harmonious balance, and clarity of design, characterisitics of the best of the first generation of Italian Renaissance portrait profiles, created between about 1420 and 1450. Pisanello's first portrait medal, that of the Byzantine emperor John VIII Paleologos, commemorated the historic visit of that ruler to Ferrara and Florence in 1438-39. Pisanello's conception of the portrait medal clearly was based on ancient Roman examples, as well as a group of gold medallions of Roman Christian emperors created in Paris about 1400. His own medals, however, were much larger than ancient Imperial coinage and were cast rather than struck. He may well have known the Florentine Alberti's amateur but powerful, remarkably monumental SelfPortrait, for that celebrated artist, architect, and theoretician, was befriended and patronized by Leonello d'Este, Marquess of Ferrara, to whose court Pisanello was attached. Besides Roman coinage, sculpture and Republican and Augustan portrait gems, Alberti may have been inspired by Masaccio's profile donor portraits in his lost Sagra fresco in the Carmine in Florence of the 1420s or in his fresco of the Trinity.11 Pisanello's concision of design extends to the inscriptions integrated into the composition. A comparable use of an identifying Latin inscription written in a style imitating ancient Roman graphic type can be found in contemporary portraiture, as, for example, a Portrait of a Youth in Chambery, attributed to Uccello. Possible portraits of Matteo and Michele di Giovanni Olivieri, the former at the National Gallery of Art, works of about the same period or, as has more recently been suggested, later copies after figures by Masaccio,

8 Ibid., pp. 36-37, figs . 33-36. Alsop. 308, footnote 57. 9 Rab Hatfield, "Five Early Renaissance Portraits," The Art Bulletin 47 (1965), 3, pp. 316-17. 10 Reproduced in Pope-Hennessy, p. 65, fig . 64. 11 See Pope-Hennessy, pp. 64-69, also Carolyn C. Wilson, Renaissance Small Bronze Sculpture and Associated Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983, p. 12.


Uccello, or Domenico Veneziano of this period, conform to this convention.12 It is notable that like Pisanello's medals, the Olivieri portraits, now transferred to canvas, originally depicted heraldic devices and inscriptions on their versos. Generally, as Pope-Hennessy has noted, the inscriptions run as a band across the bottom of the painting, without the illusionism of three dimensions, although exceptions, where the inscription is intended to read as though carved into a parapet, do occur (e.g. the Chambery portrait).13 The infusion of naturalism is tempered and moderated by the humanist ideal of the figure. In the medal of Filippo Maria Visconti, datable to ca. 1440-41, for example, the image of the military dictator is rendered carefully, yet with ennobling simplicity and monumentality. At the same time, the artist appreciates the sensuous quality of the medal in its chasing and polishing of surface to convey the play of light and shadow across the features of the subject. Pisanello was also an early master at the presentation of foreshortening in relief sculpture, evident in the depiction of the figures on the reverse of the medal of Filippo Maria Visconti. The Visconti medal is executed in the soft medal of lead (rather than bronze) because it was used in one of the first castings or trial proofs by the artist. Visconti himself was among the most politically dominant figures of his times. His aggressive expansionist policies from the 1420s to the 1440s enlarged the Milanese state to incorporate for varying periods such outstretched territories as Genoa, Parma, and Brescia, before expansion into the Romagna ultimately brought it into extended conflict with Venice, Florence, and other Italian city states. About a year after the Visconti medal was executed, Pisanello completed another portrait medal, this one for Niccolo Piccinino. Piccinino was the successful commander of the Milanese forces in their war with the Venetians, and the adopted son of Filippo Maria Visconti (himself the last of his line). Pointedly, the obverse profile of the medal is clearly based on that of Visconti, replete with the distinctive cap. On the reverse, the griffin, a symbol of Piccinino's native Perugia, is suckling two infants, referring to the legend of Romulus and Remus and thereby more directly to Piccinino himself and his master in the art of war, Braccio da Montone, also a Perugian -- and to Piccinino's imperial ambitions. The inscription alludes to both men and to the artist.14 While the commemorative and propagandistic intentions of the Pisanello medals are clear, we may well ask what were the intentions and contexts of 12 For discussion and references to the alternative attributative interpretations of the Olivieri paintings, see Fem Rusk Shapley, National Gallery of Art. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. I, Washington, 1979, no. 15, pp. 182-84. 13 See Pope-Hennessy, p. 36, fig. 33, pp. 307-8, footnotes 55, 56. The Chambery portrait is reproduced on p. 37, fig. 36. 14 See Cornelius C. Vermeule, III, Walter Cahn, and Rollin Van N. Hadley, Sculpture in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Boston, 1977, pp. 130-131, nos. 160, 161. The Piccinino medal is incorrectly described as "struck."


Pisanello, Filippo Maria Visconti

Pisanello, Niccolo Piccinino 9

the early, conventional profile head portrait paintings. As Hatfield and Wackernagel have demonstrated, these half-length profile portraits that proliferated in the mid-fifteenth century are distinctive from the traditions of portraits of men of extraordinary civic accomplishment commissioned by communes or the mural cycles of uomini famosi (e.g. classical heroes or politicians, group portraits of leading men of professions who did not live contemporaneously, etc.) that adorned private and public palaces. Those portraits were often more generic than veristic. For centuries donors had been posed in profile, often at reduced scale, at the bases of altarpieces (e.g. the Giuliano da Rimini Madonna and Child with SS. Francis and Clare and Other Saints, dated 1307, in the Long Gallery of the Gardner Museum), but such full profile images do not directly serve as evident prototypes for these totally secular bust images. Distinguishing the portraits like the Gardner painting was a desire to present sitters in an unspecific and non-public guise.JS As Hatfield has shown, if the portraits fail as specified presentations of individuals seen in a coherent spatial recession, forms pushing to the surface as abstract, slablike patterns, they achieve, nonetheless, the sense of the individuality of the subject that certainly would have been recognized by contemporaries, idealized, harmonized, pressed to the surface like a low relief or medal.16 It is thus no surprise that mottoes or heraldic devices can appear on the versos of such works, since they were installed in the home where the everyday exposition of them was unnecessary.17 These portraits undoubtedly proliferated among an urban gentry openly looking to prototypes in medals and in the profile bust easel portraits that had been produced in the courts of France by the beginning of the century. (The celebrated profile portrait of Jean le Bon, now at the Louvre, is among the earliest of these and dates to about 1360.) This commemoration of family members, associated with antiquity and the nobility, thus denoted an implicit prestige, an oligarchic status. Yet the domestic attire and unspecified settings established the subjects in a virtuous republican context. Thus, as Hatfield has concluded,18 the ennobled likenesses of the socially prominent clients of the portraits in Florence were intended to convey an enduring virtu, assumed in those of royal patrons. Exhibited together in the home, preeminent Florentine families thus confirmed their noble lineages . It is in this context that the vivid Piero del Pollaiuolo A Woman in Green

and Crimson,19 energized and given such characterful vivacity by the fluid contour line, and the rather derivative and abstract A Young Lady of Fashion, a rather weak, pallid Florentine work of the mid-century attributed to

lS Hatfield, pp. 320-21.; Martin Wackernagel, Der Lebensraum des Kunstlers in der Florentinischen Renaissance. Leipzig, 1938, p. 154-55, 157-58. 16 Hatfield, pp. 317-18. l7 Ibid., p . 316. 18 Ibid., pp. 322-324. 19 Hendy, pp. 187-88.


Piero del Pollaiuolo, A Woman zn Green and Crimson


Master of the Castello Nativity (attributed to), A Young Lady of Fashion 12

Uccello,2째 may be distinguished. The aloof, richly dressed and coiffed figure of the Young Lady of Fashion is so similar to the Metropolitan Museum picture by the same hand of a slightly stockier blond subject as to confirm that such portraits were highly conventionalized.21 The Pollaiuolo marks an interesting extension of the type into a more personal, less ennobled direction. Indeed, the dress and profile of the sitter are so unpretentious as to have led Philip Hendy to speculate that the subject was "no doubt from Piero's immediate circle, she could be the model for the S. Fina of his Coronation at San Gimignano. Perhaps she was the mother of his daughter Lisa,"22 although it should be noted that a seal with arms is painted on the back of the panel. Hendy has suggested that rather than referring to the subject, the arms, which include a Latin cross, are associated with an Italian religious fraternity (an unlikely provenance for this work!). While Ettlinger rejects the attribution of this painting and associated works with Piero or Antonio Pollaiuolo without suggesting an alternative,23 the quality of the work is very high and the rhythmically conveyed vitality of the picture suggest a dating to the last quarter of the fifteenth century. Besides the selfcontained harmony of the figure articulated through the animated line work, the shading places the figure more convincingly in a recession, the torso slightly turned within its profile. It is as if the convention were straining to encompass a less eternalized, more spontaneous and dynamic means of conveying individuality consonant with the aesthetics of another generation. This conflict between the initial terms of the genre, with its referential vocabulary, and the changing priorities of portraiture for successive generations resulted in the decline of the profile bust. The profile portrait reached its apogee in Piero da Francesca's portraits of Federigo da Montefeltro and his wife Battista Sforza, of 1465, at the Uffizi (a copy of the Sforza portrait, without the landscape background, by an anonymous artist, of the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, after Piero della Francesca is in the Long Gallery of the Gardner Museum, its companion in the Horne Museum in Florence). Piero di Cosimo's Simonetta Vespucci at Chantilly awkwardly, if enchantingly, attempts to synthesize the profile with the three-quarter view. As Jean Lipman has observed, "The use of the profile view for portraiture tended to place emphasis upon design as well as upon personality. Thus, the profile portrait held in perfect balance abstract design and the realism inherent in portraiture. The peculiar quality of fifteenth-century abstractness was largely due to a constant compromise between realism and abstraction, 20 For bibliography and history of attributions on the Florentine painting, see Hendy, pp. 267268; also John Pope-Hennessy, Paolo Uccello, London, 1969 (second ed .), p . 151. 21 Pope-Hennessy 1969, p. 150, plates XII, XIII. Also Federico Zeri, Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School, New York, 1971, pp. 114-16, as by The Master of the Castello Nativity, an attribution reconfirmed to me by the museum in September of this year, also confirmed by Everett Fahy in 1972. 22 Hendy, p. 187. 23 Leopold D. Ettlinger, Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo, London, 1978, p. 170, u nder no. 62.


and these two possibilities were simultaneously realized in the profile portrait."24 Yet the profile, while abstractly unifying the face within an encompassing contour also immobilized it, gave the identifying and animating features of eyes, nose, and mouth a far less prominent role -hands being absent all together, and severely compromised the articulation of expression and movement, two of the most essential and inimitable, individualizing characteristics of individuality. Even internal muscular articulation of the face and neck that would convey tension are minimalized. The restrictions of these formal terms for the succeeding generation are demonstrated by the production figures. In Florence in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, double the number of profile portraits survive than three-quarter views; in the last quarter of the century the figures reverse.25 The priorities evident in the Florentine fifteenth-century profile portrait are even more evident in the Relief of a Woman by Mino da Fiesole. In such reliefs as well as in his portrait busts, Mino emulated the anonymous Roman portrait marbles of antiquity.26 By general consensus Mino was not among the most skilled of the leading sculptors of his time in the rendering of anatomy. He was a mediocre technician with a limited repertoire of emotional expression, probably trained by Bernardo Rossellino. Born in Tuscany and a Florentine artist by training, where he primarily resided and received many commissions, Mino had extensive exposure to the works of Roman antiquity, and was in Rome in the early 1450s, 1463, and 1474-80. He also worked for the court in Naples. The Gardner sculpture comes from a Florentine collection and is similar in profile to another profile relief by the artist in the collection of the Bargello, Florence. The undercutting of the Gardner Relief of a Woman emphasizes its classical monumentality. Writing of Mino's bust of Piero de'Medici, Pope-Hennessy states that it "is important for what it aspires to be rather than for what it is. What it aspires to be is a repristinated Roman bust.. .. Mino had been looking hard, too hard perhaps, at classical originals ... the possibilities of this type of free, classicizing portraiture were limited, and Mino in effect exhausted them."27 He suggests that the reason why so many of these fifteenth-century portrait busts and reliefs were 24 Jean Lipman, "The Florentine Profile Portrait in the Quattrocento," The Art Bulletin 18 0936), p. 64. The essay, pp. 54-102, remains one of the most thorough discussions of the formalistic aspect of such works. A more recent study of importance, with updated bibliographical references, is Claudia Cieri Via, "L'immagine del ritratto. Considerazioni sull'origine del genere e sulla sua evoluzione dal Quattrocento al Cinquecento," II ritratto e Ia memoria, materiali I, ed. Augusto Gentili (Biblioteca del Cinquecento, 48), Rome, 1989, pp. 4S91. 25 Ibid., p. 67.

26 John Pope-Hennessy, Italian Renaissance Sculpture, London, 19S8. See his discussion of "The

Portrait Bust," pp. S4-62. On Mino, pp. 46, SS, 30S-06. Also Charles Seymour, Jr., Sculpture in Italy 1400-lSOO, Harmondsworth, 1966, pp. 139-140, 1SS-S8, 269. On the Gardner sculpture, Vermeule, et al., p. 109, no. 138. 27 Pope-Hennessy, 19S8, pp. SS-S6.


Mino da Fiesole, Relief Portrait of a Woman 15

inscribed with subject and place was that in establishing the anonymous classical busts of antiquity as paragoni, features were generalized beyond general recognition. Thus, the Gardner 's portrait of Petrus Bon (Venetian, late fifteenth century, Short Gallery) is incised: PETRVS BON TREMOLUS. The aforementioned Bargello portrait bears an inscription. Mino also executed, however, classicized reliefs of subjects from antiquity, including Scipio and Roman emperors. Thus, it can never be determined whether the Gardner relief is actually a portrait. The classicized coiffure recalls portrait busts and reliefs with maenads that the artist could have seen in Rome,28 although it also resembles that found in later fifteenth-century portraits (e.g. the Piero di Cosimo Simonetta Vespucci). It is perhaps in such reliefs that we find the greatest intersection between ennobled family portraits, uomini famosi, and the taste for the antique that would have been displayed in homes. In the middle of the fifteenth century in Florence, the Rossellini, inspired by the practice of making life and death masks and by veristic Roman Republican busts, gave a new direction to portrait busts, emphasizing with extraordinary exactitude the features of subjects. In the case of Antonio Rossellini's bust of Giovanni Chellini (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1456) created after the model of a life mask, a riveting sense of inhabiting spirit and vivacity was evoked. Nonetheless, works adhering fundamentally to the earlier tradition of more formalized and abstracted busts, modernized to the extent of the carving of more transcient and fluid facial expressions, continued to be produced. Although executed around the turn of the sixteenth century, four decades after the Rossellini, the so-called portrait of Raffaello Riario, Cardinal Sansoni29 still adheres to the earlier tradition. The style and shape of the bust and the manner in which it is cut away at back, with two holes drilled into the marble from the top back of the head suggest that it may have been created to be placed in the central niche or roundel of a grave monument in a Roman church. These types of busts have been examined and reproduced in detail in August Grisebach's essential study on the subject.30 The subject certainly is not Riario, as has been asserted in earlier publications, since a profile image of Raffaello Riario Sansoni (1461-1521, made cardinal of S. Giorgio in 1477 by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV), executed as a bronze medal in 1478 by Lysippo, bears no resemblance to the figure. Lysippo's youth has a pronounced jawline and long pointed nose. The Gardner portrait of a youth in a dalmatic, more accurately described by Ulrich Middledorf in 1938 as a "portrait of a young deacon,"31 would fit eminently 28 See Phyllis Pray Bober and Ruth Rubinstein, Renaissance Artists

& Antique Sculpture: A Handbook of Sources, New York, 1987, pl. 598, inter alia. 29 Vermeule, et al., pp. 120-21, no. 149. 30 August Grisebach, Romische Portratbusten der Gegenrerormation (Romische Forschungen der Bibliotheca Hertziana, Band XIII), Leipzig, 1936. 31 Review of Grisebach, in Art Bulletin 20 (1938), pp. 115-16, fig. 4.


Roman, early 16th century, Bust of a Deacon 17

into such a niche. Other such youthful portraits of young deceased clerics and lay individuals appear in Roman death monuments of the early sixteenth century. In any case, the chronology of Riario's life, his death at the age of sixty, and the attire of the bust make little sense of the identification. A terracotta of the same subject as the Gardner bust, scientifically dated to having been fired over 450 years years ago, differs in that the terracotta is cut straight across above the elbows and the garment is a tunic and sleeveless surplice rather than a dalmatic. The more animated bust, preserved in Berlin,32 may have served as the model upon which the marble was adapted for monumental use. One of the most celebrated portraits in the Gardner collection is that of the monumental Count Tommaso Inghirami, the first work by Raphael acquired by Mrs. Gardner, previously having belonged to the Count's descendants at the Casa Inghirami, Volterra. The painting exists in two versions, the other in the Pitti Palace (descended from Leo X de'Medici to whom Inghirami gave it) in Florence. Critical opinion has shifted in favoring one version over the other and in declaring one or the other to be a replica from the studio.33 While a dating to about 1513 has historically been favored, recent scientific analysis and Konrad Oberhuber's connoisseurship have favored a slightly earlier date to about 1511-12. The only significant difference between the two versions is that the deformity of the eye is more pronounced in the Pitti version. For our purposes, however, it is the subject and Raphael's treatment of him that are of preeminent concern. Tommaso Inghirami was born in Volterra in 1470 and died in Rome in 1516. His father was killed when he was only two years of age; Tommaso became a ward of Lorenzo de'Medici, who brought him to Florence and had him well 32 See F. Schottmiiller, Die Italienischen und Spanischen Bildwerke der Renaissance und des Barocks in Marmor, Ton, Holz und Stuck, Konigliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, 1913, p. 84, fig. 203. 33 See Hendy, pp. 195-96, esp. 96. Also Luitpold Dussler, Raphael, p. 34, for histories of attribution and bibliographies. Most critical opinion has favored the Gardner painting, descended from the Casa Inghirami in Volterra, to the Pitti version, given by Inghirami to Pope Leo X. Recently, Konrad Oberhuber has contended, contrary to the consensus, that the Pitti painting is the original, while the Gardner picture was executed in the studio as a replica, possibly by the young Giovan Francesco Penni. See his Raffaello, Milan, 1982, p. 104. In the late nineteenth century, Horne and Morelli, who were able to study both works side by side preferred the Gardner painting. Scientific analysis of the Gardner painting confirms its origin to the period, and supports Oberhuber's dating to about 1511. See Jacqueline Ridge, "The Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami: A Technical Examination," Fenway Court. 1987, pp. 49-55. There is extensive abrasion of the surface due to severe cleaning of the Gardner painting before it entered the collection. The Pitti version indicates more extensive pentimenti than the Gardner version, but the latter also indicates alterations and some traces of underdrawing. Furthermore there are slight differences in the paintings that indicate that although remarkably similar, one painting is not merely a tracing of the other, but must have been painted in front of the other.


Raphael, Count Tommaso lnghirami 19

educated. By the age of thirteen, he had traveled to Rome where he rose in the Church thanks to both his own intelligence and wit and prominent patronage. While still a young man he was sent by Pope Alexander VI to Milan as a nuncio to the Emperor Maximilian, who created him a Count Palatine. A canon of St. Peter's, reflected in his red robe, Inghirami's personal charm, wit and poetic talents kept him in the good graces of Borgia, della Rovere, and Medici popes. Julius II appointed him Chief Librarian of the Vatican, Secretary to the Lateran Council (1512), and Secretary to the College of Cardinals. In the court of Leo X de'Medici, Inghirami was able to exploit his talents in classical scholarship, statecraft, and theater. He executed theater designs, wrote plays, and on one occasion when the sets in a production of a play collapsed, he entertained the audience with extemporaneous amusing verse in Latin. He was also a popular preacher. Inghirami had advised Raphael in the working out of the program for the decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura (1509-11), and the papal librarian features prominently, his features somewhat idealized, in the left foreground (wearing a crown of laurels and reading a text) in the School of Athens. In creating a likeness of this popular, influential, and prominent figure, Raphael, the greatest portraitist of the Italian High Renaissance, was faced with an overwhelming dilemma: the subject's homeliness. Inghirami was both obese and suffered from the disfigurement of strabismus. These limitations inspired Raphael to one of his most remarkable compositional conceits. The broad form of the canon is presented with simple dignity and great monumentality in scarlet against a simple, dark background with just enough objects to convey the sense that we are seeing him in his study and to underscore the turn of his body. The torso becomes in effect a base for the presentation of the activated face of the subject. Yet rather than appearing as a stolid block, the lower torso is animated by its rotation in space, complementing the active hands and raised and turned face. The entire composition is designed to focus our attentions on the brilliant literary figure's preeminent physical expressions, his writing hand, and his active mind. Shown probably in the act of taking dictation from the pope, Inghirami's weak eye is brilliantly exploited. Turned and raised upward, the eye seems to be gazing up and off to the left as though engaged in a moment of inspiration, the pose reminiscent of ancient depictions of the evangelists inspired by an angel or an eagle and appropriated for images of writers. The nature of the reference and its ancient sources make the pose all the more appropriate. Miraculously, the entire massive form of the canon seems charged with the energy, intelligence, and quick personality that characterized Inghirami. This High Renaissance portraiture constitutes a vision that seeks to convey primarily the ennobled character of the individual and the


distinguishing excellence of the subject, while remaining true to the essential, characteristic physical features.34 When we examine a portrait executed in Florence about fifteen years later, we are confronted -- quite literally -- by a very different set of priorities in the communication of subject. Bacchiacca's A Lady with a Nosegay, a highly abstracted and idealized image that hardly constitutes a vivid likeness, embodies a depersonalized aesthetic. Born in Florence about 1495, Bacchiacca was trained by Perugino and worked as a youth with his more talented contemporary Pontormo, as well as the older Granacci and del Sarto. Not an artist of innovation, Bacchiacca's conservative style was modeled in its colorism -- and in his portraiture in his derivative compositions -- upon del Sarto. As Hendy has noted, "The portrait seems modelled less from nature than upon the study of Andrea del Sarto. The peculiar dislocation of the shoulders, the left in profile, the right in full view, and the fantastic line of the beads are explained by a comparison with del Sarto's portrait, perhaps of his wife, Lucrezia, in Madrid .. .. "35 The del Sarto painting dates to about 151314. Freedberg has argued convincingly that the portrait in Madrid is indeed of del Sarto's wife, whom del Sarto also used as the model for several religious works, including the St. Catherine in the St. Petersburg Madonna with Sts . Elizabeth, Catherine, and the Infant St. John (ca . 1513) and the Madonna in The Madonna of the Harpies (1517), and the possibility exists that the imitative Bacchiacca depicted his wife, Tommasa di Carlo, in the Gardner painting. According to Hendy, Bacchiacca similarly appropriated this figure for other paintings, including a Magdalen in the Pitti Palace.36 Several of Bacchiacca's Madonnas and the Pitti Magdalen do bear, somewhat idealized, similar generic features of facial structure, eyes, chin, nose, etc., but Bacchiacca's repertoire of physical types was never particularly broad and I find the evidence inconclusive that the Gardner woman served as a specific model for other works.37 The subject does not impart any individually revealing psychology; her abstract, chiseled facial contour and the sumptuousness of her attire indicate her economic/ social station -- the true subject of the portrait. In the strong colorism of the attire, Bacchiacca, while depending heavily on the conservative style of del Sarto, also responds to the currents of contemporary Mannerist style in Florence. His figure lacks the softening circumambient atmosphere of the del Sarto portrait of Lucrezia with its 34 One of the most acute and articulate descriptions of the formal properties of the portrait and the brilliance of its compositional conception is that by Sydney Freedberg. See S. J. Freedberg, Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence, Cambridge, 1961, pp. 177-78.

35 Hendy, p. 10. 36 Ibid. 37 The Magdalen is reproduced in Lada Nikolenko, Francesco Ubertini called II Bacchiacca. Locust Valley, NY, 1966, fig. 48, see also fig . 63, Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John in Wiesbaden.


Bacchiacca, A Lady with a Nosegay


evocation of personality. Instead he flattens the figure and emphasizes the surface pattern created by the contour of the form, a generalized shape, depersonalizing the subject. One result of this reinterpretation of the del Sarto composition is that the foreshortened shoulder line taken from the del Sarto painting, in which Lucrezia turns in space from the picture plane, no longer makes anatomical sense.38 The work reflects the aesthetic being formulated at that date (the mid- 1520s), one of artificial grace, elegance and psychological distancing, a style that referred first and foremost to other art rather than to nature. 39 The Gardner portrait of A Lady in BlackL a work which comes from the Chigi collection in Rome, traditionally has been assigned to Jacopo Tintoretto, but more recently has been given to his son Domenico and dated to the late 1590s by Paola Rossi. 40 The painting articulates the distinctly Venetian formulation of the late mannerist aesthetic. This work, compositionally inspired by Jacopo's work of thirty years earlier (and sometimes associated with the Minneapolis Portrait of a Ven etian Woman , Age 32, itself a weak work of doubtful attribution to the master, but representing his compositional style), also reveals Domenico's response to the art of Mantua (where he traveled about 1598) and the luminous atmospheric landscape tra dition of Ferrara . The painting, one of Domenico's most inspired emulations of his father's style, is more a glorification of wealth and station expressed through the sumptuous richness of textile textures and magnificent jewelry, set off from the subject's face by the black robe and the white golilla (collar), than an examination of an individual. Placed before a rapidly sketched tenebrous landscape opening out from a parapet, the elegant, standing figure is the embodiment of self-assured, aloof splendor and grace. Attired in the fashion, adopted in Italy from Spain at the end of the century, of solid black robe set off by a white golilla, the 38 The Bacchiacca portrait indeed seems based on the composition of the Madrid painting by del Sarto, although clearly of a different subject. Del Sarto's figure has a similar dislocation of the forward shoulder, but as the figure turns more clearly in space from the picture plane surface, the effect is read as a foreshortening rather than the disconcerting anatomy of Bacchiacca's figure. See John Shearman, Andrea d el Sarto, Oxford, 1965, II, no. 35, p. 222., repr. I, pl. 40b, the Madrid painting dated to ca. 1513-14. The Bacchiacca at the Gardner is mentioned as a derivation and "a very early female portrait by Bacchiacca." Freedberg comes to the same conclusion regarding the date of the painting. Freedberg presents a strong case for the traditional argument that the Madrid painting is a portrait of Lucrezia, de! Sarto's wife. S. J. Freedberg, Andrea de! Sarto, Catalogue Raisonne, Cambridge, 1963, no. 23, pp. 46-47, repr., Text. fig. 52. 39 I disagree with Hendy, who places the Gardner painting, "among the painter's later works," and concur with Shearman and earlier writers in seeing it as a youthful work, dating to the mid- 1520s. On the style of the painting, see Freedberg's fundamental study on the aesthetic of the period, S. J. Freedberg, "Observations on the Painting of the Maniera," Art Bulletin 47 (1965), pp. 187-197. Also his comments on Bacchiacca and Mannerism in S. J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy 1500-1600, Harmondsworth, 1975, pp. 239-40. 40 See Paola Rossi and Rodolfo Pallucchini, Tintoretto. I ritratti, Milan, 1990, p. 76, p . 106, no. A13.


Domenico Tintoretto, A Lady in Black


figure is not n cessarily to be interpre ted as being in mourning, despite the presence of a book of devotions be hind her. The artist's attention to decorative el ments of d eta il ed j wels, lace, and rich curtain contrasted with the roughly defined, vividly lit landscape are th e portrait's priorities. The sitter remains a cipher, her p rsonality as much as her id e ntity a closed mystery . There can be no doubt as to th e subject of the h eroi c bust of Bindo Altoviti cast by Benvenuto Cellini about 1550.41 The work, the only majo r bronze by the artist in this country, is among his most renow ned, and th e artist discusses the piece in his rem arkable unfinished autobiography.42 Cellini had recently (1547) completed a nearly double life-size bust of Duke Cosimo de'Medici . In that work, he t sted his ability to cast on a large sca le in preparation for his commission to execute his famous Perseus . The Pers eus unveiled in the Loggia d e i Lan zi in Fl ren ce in 1554, a nd was a triumph, as Cellini is quick to inform us. The Co im o bust conscious ly conveys the message of authority and pow r. In a I tte r of 1548 to Cos imo I, th e artis t described his com mi tm nt and l ove f th e pi ce and s t tes th at "in accordance with the noble fashion of th ancient th ere is g iv n to it the bold movem ent of life ."43 In this official bust ba d n antiqu m d ls, th e Duke is d epicted larger than life . He is presented wit h a fi ercene and vividn ess complemented by the intricate d tai lin g of th e cuirass he wea rs . The cuir ass is boldly and intricatelyornam nted with g rot que h ads, eag le heads, and a Medusa. If the bust of Cosimo l presents u with th e im age

f a command in g and dominating autocrat, th at of Bindo A lt oviti, d pite its co mp arab le sca le (th e former 110 cm in height, th e Gardn r bus t 105.5 cm) is of a different cha racter altogether. The two busts may at first seem as co mpl em entary images of king and philosopher types, but this is an ov ers implifica tion. Altoviti, a Roman banker born in that city in 1491, was d escended from a Florentine family of political and social prominence. He was one of the w ea lthi es t and most influential men of his day in Rome, and his bank the most powerful in that city after the 1528 closing of the Chigi bank. As Pope-Hennessy has observed,44 his power and influ ence was such th a t d espite Altoviti's open hostility to the Medici rule of Florence and his pro-republican sentiments, he was favored by the two Medici popes (as well as the Farnese and de! Monte pontiffs), was appointed a Consul by Alessandro de' Medici and a member of the Consiglio in Florence. Cosimo adde d to th ese honors by appointing him a Senator in 1546. Business was business, and despite Altoviti's sympathies, the duke was in debt to him several thousand scudi. Yet Altoviti continued to 41 42 43 44

Vermeule, et al., no. 151, pp. 122-25. The relevant citations are presented in English translation in Vermeule, et al., pp. 122, 125. Quoted from John Pope-Hennessy, Ce!Jinj, Ne w York, 1985, p. 216, repr. pi s. 117, 118-20. Ibid ., p. 218.


Benvenuto Cellini, Bindo Altoviti


financially upport anti-M dici fore s, his son b in g refu sed to fill his seat as Archbishop of Florence by th Duke in 1548, and ul tim a te ly after subsidizing a failed coup (1552), Altoviti's Flore ntine properti s w r take n by the state. Altoviti, is perhaps most w ell kn wn for the portr ait of him as a handsome youth by Raphael, the painting now at the N a ti on al Ga ll ery of Art. He also was a friend of Michelangelo. Pope-H enness y d a tes th e commiss ion to after Altoviti's nomination as a Se na tor in 1546 to compl e tion by about 1550-51 . Cellini must hav receiv ed duca l pe rmiss ion to execute th e bu s t of Altoviti . His visit to Altoviti in Rome in 1551, after compl e tion f the bus t, cl early w as no great success for the artist, who m erely gain ed a hi g her ra te of interest on money he already had inves t d in Altoviti's bank as a p a yme nt, was received with no great affection. Non e th e less the bust w as it If a triumph, for Cellini's idol, Michelang lo, hims If d scribed it in a le tte r to Ce llini as beautiful, regre tting th e bad li g h t in whi ch it was exhibited in Alto viti 's home, stating that th e work h uld hav be n li t from th e o pposite sid e fro m above. As it was, in Altoviti 's s tud y, whi ch was fill d w ith a n ti qu es, the li g h t came from beneath as th e window s ex te nd ed to th e fl or.45 "Al to viti 's p alace (which survived till 1888) wa on th e riv er ba nk, cl ose to the Ponte sant'Angelo, and the study p n d n a logg ia fac in g th ri ver. It ha d three windows, and opposit th em w r ni ch s c ntainin g cla ica l bu sts with, in the center, Cellini's portrait. "46 As Pope-Hennessy has not d, th bu ti s r m a rkabl in th a t it is th e only fullscale finished sculpture by Cellini in n arly p erfe ct conditi n. The d e tailing and chasing of details of the fac e and th e fi g ure' full b a rd are remark able . Furthermore it survives on its ori g inal ba , which b ars th e Altoviti arms. Again, as in the Cosimo IL th e work is ov r life s ize , vivid a nd brooding, even intimidating, but interestingly this activ e figur e, sli g htly turned and concentrating, is shown wearing a woven cotton cap into which his hair has been tucked and through which it is visibl e. Th e type of cap that he wears was popular in Northern Europe in the early si xteenth century and in Rome until the 1520s. It is seen on a figure in Ra ph ael's Ma ss at Bolsena (1512). It has been speculated that perhaps the cap has some papal connection or with his capacity as a banker. On the other hand it may simply reflect Bindo's personal choice. Certainly soft, low caps continued to be used, as Titian depicts himself in a low, soft cap in a self-portrait in Berlin, executed several years later (dated between 1550 and [more likely] about 1562). He wears an even more skull-hugging cap in th e more intimate Prado Self-Portrait of the later 1560s. A similar cap (whether identical to the one in Cellini's bust or more like that in the Titian Berlin painting is unclear) appears in a small 45 All this cited in Pope-Hennessy, 1985, pp. 219-20. See also the Vita di Ben venuto Cellin i. ed. Giuseppe Molini, Florence, 1832, pp. 540-543 . The letter is qu oted on p . 541, th e contractual arrangement cited p. 543. 46 Pope-Hennessy, 1985, p. 220.


medal of Altoviti conserved at the Bargello, probably by Cellini, executed in the 1540s. We can only conjecture on the choice of attire that the banker was memorialized wearing, but certainly the embroidered cap and simple shirt and cloak complemented the republican sentiments of Altoviti in this bust created just after the Imperial ducal bust. The very contemporary image of Altoviti is the paragon of Florentine republican and capitalist, a foil more than a complement to that of Cosimo I. In a letter to Benedetto Varchi, Cellini comments, "If he [the sculptor] wishes to represent a soldier, with the qualitities and swagger which belong to him, the sculptor must be bravissimo, with a good knowledge of arms; if he wishes to depict an orator, he must be eloquent and have knowledge of the science of letters .... "47 Cellini's own interest in accountancy, perhaps more accurately in money, and in the glorification of the self are well attested to in his life and his immortal Vite .

47 Quoted in translation in Pope-Hennessy, 1985, p. 232.


II. The Self as Citizen A work of art may convey a clear political message, universally understood at the time of its inception, that through lack of familiarity with the original historical circumstance, the conventions and syntax of visual language at the time, or the metaphorical character of the depicted narrative, may no longer remain immediately evident over intervening centuries. Botticelli's Tragedy of Lucretia,48 a celebrated episode from classical history recorded in Livy (Lives I; cap. 57-59), as well as in verse by Ovid and Dante among many others, pointedly comments on contemporary events in Florence. The painting is a pendant to the Story of Virginia (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo), and both were probably those to be found, as Vasari tells us, as enclosed wall decorations in the house of Giovanni Vespucci. It was Giovanni's father, Guidantonio, who purchased the house (1498-99), and Guidantonio served as Gonfaloniere, the highest public officer of the Florentine Republic, as well as Orator of the Florentine Republic, a diplomatic post. These notable public trusts are critical to our understanding of the meaning of the decorative panels and the message they projected regarding Botticelli's client. The actual subject matter has been thoroughly examined by Ronald Lightbown.49 Basically the incident depicted occurred in the sixth century B.C., under the reign of the tyrant Tarquinius Superbus. During a military campaign, Lucretia's husband, Collantinus, praised the chastity and virtue of his wife. As a result, a bet was taken among the officers as to their wives' virtue. They returned to Rome unannounced to discover that while the lovely Lucretia sat demurely spinning wool with her women servants, the other wives were amusing themselves. Aroused by her beauty and virtue, however, the son of Tarquinius Superbus, Sextus Tarquinius, returned during an absence of Collantinus, was honorably received, but later forced his way into Lucretia's chamber, threatened her life unless she gave into him, and when she still resisted threatened to kill her and one of his slaves and put their naked bodies together on the bed, claiming to have killed them for adultery. Threatened with disgrace she succumbed. On the following day, she summoned her husband and father, told them of what had happened, and despite their belief in her, stabbed herself, so that, as Livy records, "Never shall Lucretia provide a precedent for unchaste women .... " Her father, husband, and two comrades swore revenge, and a funeral oration by Brutus (ancestor of Marcus Brutus) at Collatia roused the populace to rebellion that overthrew the tyranny and established the Roman republic. Botticelli has taken some liberties with the narrative in order to present three separate, critical incidents simultaneously in a stagelike classical exterior, modeled 48

Hendy, pp. 38-41.

49 Ronald Lightbown, Sandro

Botticelli. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1978, II, no . B91 ,

pp. 101 -06.



on the descriptions of unified architectural settings in ancient Roman classical tragedies. Thus, Lucretia is attacked with a dagger outside, and also receives her family there in the moment before she draws her dagger. The Florentine populace had recently expelled the "tyranny" of the Medici. After the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent (d. 1492), and the consequent excesses of his son Piero, it had established a republic under the leadership of the Dominican preaching friar Savonarola (1494), and the symbolic relevance of the story of Lucretia was obvious.SO We also know that in 1500 Giovanni di Guidantonio Vespucci married. Both the Tragedy of Lucretia and the History of Virginia are exempla pudicitia, appropriate matrimonial themes. Thus the two interpretations could coexist. Furthermore,路 the panel contains other references to ancient Roman virtue and valor and Old Testament examples of individuals overcoming tyranny against overwhelming odds. Most notable among these are the figure of David at center atop a Corinthian porphry column and an image of Judith with the head of Holofernes on the building relief at left. Donatello's images of these figures had been removed from the Palazzo Medici and set up in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Signoria. Furthermore, in 1504 (the probable appproximate date for the painting) Botticelli was on a commission established to decide where to place Michelangelo's newly completed statue of David. Thus the painting assumes the role for Vespucci of a statement of republican sympathy (and matrimonial pride). No patriciate in Italy took greater pride in its citizenship than the noble families of the Serenissima, the venerable Venetian republic. Operating under a complex constitution, it endured without fundamental changes for nearly a millenium (until Napoleon, threatening the city with destruction, forced its council to vote the Republic out of existence in 1798). Never conquered or invaded, with a mythic founding in the fifth century (permitting the city to adopt to its propagandistic advantage both Eastern [Greek/ Athenian] and Roman republican paragone), the city created its own synthesized heritage. To control the consolidation of political power by the doge, a council of counselors, established in 1032, evolved in 1172 into the Great Council, a broadly based legislature, the fundamental step in the pyramid of political posts. In 1286 membership was restricted to those whose predecessors had been members, and the official Serrata, the closing of membership to only families of members of the Council in the four previous years, took place in 1296. (Nonetheless, membership was still unwieldy, with a council of 1212 members in 1340.) In 1315, a list of the legitimate family members was composed and this resulted in the production of the official register of marriages and births among the membership, the Golden Book. Certain posts were reserved for the common citizenry, and non-members who were skilled craftsmen and merchants of Venetian parentage could join confraternities, the Scuole, where they mingled professionally with the patriciate. Furthermore, through a complex system of multiple rounds of required ballots and nominations and restrictions on terms, it was impossible for 5 0 On the political interpretation of the Gardner paintings specifically and of the use of the image in Florence, see, G. Walton, "The Lucretia panel in the Gardner Museum," Essays in Honor of Walter Friedlaender, Locust Valley , NY, 1965 , pp . 177-86.


any family to dominate the dogeship or the upper councils of government.SI Male members of families in the Golden Book were expected, from about the age of eighteen, to do their civic duty, to serve militarily, as necessary, to participate in legislative councils and in diplomatic and gubernatorial capacities, as well as attend to familial business concerns. Venetian chroniclers took pride in the constitutional structure, which they saw as the classical embodiment of virtuous republican mixed-government idealized by the ancients. 52 The multiple heraldic devices created by the noble families of Venice attest to their pride in their venerable enfranchised status. Over the centuries sub-branches of the same families would adopt distinctive stemme (family crests), and the libraries of the nobility would contain "reference books" of these stemme. Several such elegant, illuminated manuscripts survive at the Biblioteca Correr, and the Gardner possesses such a book, the Cronica de Venexia, which records the families and their stemme, with brief histories of the city and republic, as well as of the doges through the date 1490, during the dogeship of Agostino Barbarigo (1486-1501). The album is exhibited opened to one of the pages of stemme. The Gardner library also contains elegant manuscript presentation books given by the doge to members of the patriciate upon the occasion of their assumption of a significant commission. The books might contain, as in the two examples exhibited, honorific allusions to the patrician's family together with descriptions and proscriptions of the responsibilities and nature of the posts. In the ducal commission (dogale) granted by Doge Francesco Donato to Vicenzo Gritti as governor of Udine, "given in our ducal Palace on the day 17 July in the said year 1546," the title page is illuminated with the Gritti stemma, images of St. Francis and St. Vincent, the lion of St. Mark, patron of Venice, classical arms, and the Madonna and Child, who protect the lion of St. Mark, i.e. the Serenissima. The commission granted by the same doge to Girolamo Morosini as Capitano of Brescia, given on 17 July 1547, depicts Morosini, wearing his official robes and identified as being forty-five years of age, shown in worship of the Madonna and Child, the Trinity hovering, a simplified view of Brescia to the right, while below is the lion of St. Mark and, at the base, his family's stemma before another image of the city and its Alpine terrain.

III. The Artist and His Sense of Self Some images powerfully suggest an interpretation without definitive documentary confirmation. The Hercules fresco was created by Piero della Francesca to decorate the public room of his own magnificent house, which he designed and began 51 On the political Norwich, A History Venice. a Maritime and the Defense of 5 2 Bouwsma, p. 63.

history of Venice and its constitutional structure, see John Julius of Venice, New York 1982, esp. pp. 181-90. Also Frederic C. Lane, ReDublic, Baltimore, 1973, pp. 9)-98. William J. Bouwsma, Venice Republican Liberty, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, pp . 1-94.


Piero della Francesca, Hercules


construction of in 1465 on the main street of his native Borgo Sansepolcro, adjacent to the central square, present us with the artist's statement of his own civic pride, his interest in classical antiquity, his mathematical interests -- reflected not only in his paintings but also in his theoretical writings De Prospettiva PingendiL small books on arithmetic and geometry and De Quinque Corporibus Regolaribus, an exemplum of his canon of proper proportions -- his ego or all of the above? It is possible that the figure was intended for a series of uomini illustri (such a cycle more commonly associated with communal palaces and nobility, see earlier discussion). Although there is no evidence in the house that other figures were planned, the figure, probably begun about 1467, may represent an aborted complex. The nearly life-size figure is presented frontally before a temple, with little ornamental iconography to detract from his simple, noble, boding presence (the figure was cut off below the knees by Piero's descendants to make space for a doorway). As Alessandro Angelini has commented, "we can see how the artist always refused borrowings from antiquity, unlike other artists who followed the 'archaeological' trend of the time."53 Sansepolcro, located at the foot of the Tuscan Appenines near the origin of the Tiber, passed through several authorities during Piero's lifetime, from the Malatesta to the Papacy to Florence, during Piero's youth. Although born of humble parents, his father a tanner having died before Piero was born, the artist was a self-made successful businessman and man of letters. He served as a Councillor in 1442 and again thirty-five years later. He was a man of prominence and wealth in his community, in the extended process of building an immense residence (the roofline indicates that had he lived [d. 1492] he was planning on adding a third story to his already magnificent house), and evidently saw in the image of Hercules, traditionally associated with strength, fortitude, and virtue, an appropriate emblem for himself.54

The image of Hercules that appears in Bandinelli's Self-Portrait is of a very different order and significance indeed! Baccio Bandinelli was sculptor to Duke Cosimo de'Medici and arch-rival of Benvenuto Cellini. The drawing to which he points in the painting is a design for a Hercules and Cacus, which although not the same composition as his most important commission, a sculpture of Hercules and Cacus outside the entrance of the Piazza della Signoria opposite Michelangelo's David, clearly refers to his most famous theme. The David had embodied in its magnificent idealized youth the aspirations of the Florentine republic, and Michelangelo had been requested by the republic for a companion figure of Hercules. Michelangelo never realized the latter project, although we know through

53 Alessandro Angelini, Piero della Francesca, Florence, 1985, p. 60. 54 Although the majority of commentators on the fresco have imagined that the work was part of a larger cycle, Roberto Longhi and Kenneth Clark asserting Castagno's influence in his cycle at the Villa Legnaia (Kenneth Clark, Piero della Francesca, London, 1969, p. 226) , I concur with Hendy (p. 181; bibliography p. 183) that given the size of the original room it is more likely that the figure was a single, selfcontained image.


Baccio Bandinelli, Self-Portrait 35

drawings that he experimented with ideas of Hercules and Anteaus. The idea of another monumental figure embodying strength seemed natural to the Florentine republic, especially as Hercules had been associated with Florence and was employed as an inscription in city seals ("Herculea clava domat Fiorentia prava" "With the club of Hercules Florence tames evil").55 Upon the restoration of the Medici to power with the papal army's assistance in 1512, the project languished. But upon the Medici restoration in 1530 (having been driven out again in 1527) Pope Clement VII de'Medici recommissioned a Hercules from Bandinelli. The subject became Hercules and Cacus, the clubbing of Cacus to the earth carrying a clear Medici message, quite distinct from that imagined by the republic. There it was placed in 1534. Both Giorgio Vasari and Cellini present rather unflattering images of Bandinelli as egotistical, conniving, and unpleasant in their respective biography and autobiography. While the painting is the only one of Bandinelli that has been recognized, we do know that Bandinelli received training from Rosso Fiorentino and that he received painting commissions early in his career; however, he was not esteemed as a painter. The portrait reflects his pictorial awkwardness and is conceived in the nearly monochromatic terms of a drawing. The painting also depicts him wearing the order of S. Iago, which he received in 1530. The scale of the painting on panel (58 x 44-1/2") leaves little doubt as to his self-esteem. Rollin van N . Hadley has argued that the Gardner painting must date to the later 1540s, supported by Hendy.56 The subject is further confirmed by a 1540 painting of him in the Corsini Collection in Florence, in which he appears younger, and a mid-1540s portrait engraving by Nicolo della Casa. Renaissance artists were quite capable of expressing themselves and consciously projecting an image of themselves for future generations through the written word. Giorgio Vasari 's Vite (Delle Vite de 'piu eccellenti pittori, scultori et architettori) remains to this day an authoritative source for the biographies of Italian artists from the period of Cimabue and Giotto, at the outset of the fourteenth century, to his own day. In the first edition of his work, published in 1550, Vasari (born in Arezzo in 1511 and Florentine by training, dying there in 1574) is even more clearly propagandistic in his ambitions. The first edition is organized to praise the accomplishments of Florentine artists, with the career of Michelangelo as the climax of the work. While it is evident in the second edition of 1568 that Vasari (himself a leading painter, architect, and theoretician of his time) continued to see Michelangelo as the culmination of the development of art in Italy, the preeminent figure whose work exceeded even the noble precedent of antiquity; the accomplishments of other artists, notably Raphael, are appreciated as worthy of emulation.

55 See Charles de Tolnay , Michelangelo, Princeton, 1975, p. 13. 56 R. Hadley , "A Portrait of Bandinelli ," Fenway Court, I, 3 (December 1966), pp. 17-24; Hendy , p. 12.


The expanded and revised second edition (1568), of which one is in the possession of the Gardner Museum is exhibited, corrects many factual errors in the earlier edition. More balanced in its presentation of other, non-Florentine artists and regional schools as well, it is divided into three sections, including Vasari's own theoretical discussion of the arts and the fundamental role of disegno (design/ drawing) both in conception and execution of a composition. Besides the biographies, which are filled in the third section with lively recollections from his research travel, evoking anecdotes told by his fellow artists or those who had known deceased figures, the work also contains two theoretically oriented prefaces and three introductions, devoted to painting, sculpture, and architecture. The 1568 edition updates biographies through the preceding year, and the third volume is open to the beginning of Vasari's autobiography. It is not irrelevant that Vasari, who maintained a large studio and oversaw the decoration of the Palazzo Vecchio for Cosimo de'Medici, was a founder of the Florentine Accademia del Disegno, which convened in 1562. The famous author was a painter much in demand, the architect of the Uffizi, and one of the earliest prominent collectors of drawings. Like the Vite, his Libro de'disegni was intended to show the development of disegno (in this case literally draftsmanship) in Italy, again with Michelangelo as the culmination. He set the drawings on sheets with highly ornate architectural decorations of his design.57 One of the most brilliant sculptors of the sixteenth century, whose colorful life -mostly from his own accounting -- casts him in the role of a remarkably adventuresome and altogether charming rogue, is Benvenuto Cellini. We already have had the opportunity to encounter him and his autobiography in the context of the Bindo Altoviti bust at the Gardner. For most, however, he remains first and foremost renowned as the author of his own life. The Vita is written in spirited, at times impassioned and very direct Italian, which defies the translator in conveying its exhuberance and vivacity. Actually, it was never published during Cellini's lifetime (indeed, never finished, ending abruptly in the year 1562, with the phrase, "and then I went to Pisa ... "). The original manuscript, numbering 519 pages, survives, acquired in 1811 by the Biblioteca Laurentiana in Florence from its private owner, Luigi Poirot, who had only acquired it himself in a bookshop in 1805. The manuscript finally passed to the library in 1825. The first authoritative edition in Italian, based on careful, scholarly study of the original, was quickly published in Milan in three volumes, edited by Carpani, between 1806 and 1811. Further editions, correcting editorial errors, were completed in the 1820s, after the original passed to the Biblioteca Laurentiana, notably Tassi's edition of 1829. The Molini edition of 1832 became the standard, although there have been many further, increasingly refined editions produced in this century. In an inadequate manner, however, the work had long been known. Cellini showed the manuscript to friends, including Benedetto Varchi, and various bowdlerized, clandestine editions were 57 The standard reference on the subjects of the artist, his aesthetics, career, and critical literary ambitions remains T. S. R. Boase, Giorgio Vasari. The Man and the Book Princeton 1979 based on his Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in , ' 1971.



created as the original passed over the centuries from hand to hand. These pirate and inadequately edited copies are reflected in later eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century translations by Goethe and Thomas Nugent. But to appreciate the recklessness of the personality behind the words and the zest of the prose, one must read the original Italian.

IV. The Spiritual Dimension of the Self

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy were characterized as much by spiritual leaders and movements, from the rule of Savonarola in Florence to the Council of Trent, as they were as ages of discovery, scientific inquiry, and reappreciation of the classical heritage. The popularity of Sacre Rappresentazione, theatrical presentations of religious stories, attest to this broad-based sentiment. Veristic religious pageants and Passion plays attracted immense crowds throughout Italy. In his seminal work on Italian theater of the period, the historian D'Ancona58 notes that these productions included theatrical beatings, murder, and the rising of souls to glory. On-stage presentation of such details as St. Agnes physically abused before the Roman Prefect, St. Margaret strangling and beating a dragon, and Cain slaying Abel was part of the entertainment. A presentation of the drama of the Resurrection in Milan in 1475 attracted 80,000. Complete Passion plays of extended duration, including many apocryphal but moving narratives of the Virgin, were presented in Italian cities during Holy Week. A detailed account of one held in Ferrara in 1489 includes Judas's temptation, the Last Supper, Betrayal, Flagellation, the Carrying of the Cross, Judas's death, and the freeing of souls from Limbo to musical accompaniment. Michael Baxandall has noted59 that throughout the Quattrocento religious pictures served as lucid, vivid, and readily accessible stimuli to meditation. They were expected to tell their stories in clear, simple memorable fashion. But, as Baxandall observes, each of the pious public was an amateur practiced in spiritual visualizations of religious narratives -- an important skill for a believing public before the age of mass media.60 The public's interior visualizations of religious narratives were the context within which the artist worked. Baxandall mentions6 1 the Zardino de Oration, a prayerbook for young girls published in Venice in 1494. In Chapter XVI, "Chome meditare la vita di Christo" (p. xiiv. - xiiir.), the reader is encouraged to visualize the events of the Passion as set in a well-known city, cast as 58 A. D'Ancona, Origini de! Teatro Italiano, Turin, 1891, I. 59 M. Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy. Oxford, 1975, pp. 45-56 . 60 Ibid ., p. 45. 61 Ibid., pp. 46-48.


Jerusalem, particularizing local monuments as the loci of these events and personal acquaintances as the personae. When the painter painted a religious image the beholder was prepared to a much greater degree than we are to enter into the unfolding drama, to employ the image as a vehicle towards interior visualization. The artist provided the concrete details and extended compositional relationships which the private imagination was less capable of filling in. Religious narrative existed within a con text of shared and assumed emotional experiences, be they traumatic public executions or public theater. Thus, the visualization of contemporary events could be influenced by and influence the mode of depiction of subjects, heightening the immediacy of experience for the viewer. For example, on the morning of Saturday, 1 December 1509, a rather unusual and, on this occasion, highly controversial judicial sentence was carried out in the Piazza San Marco before a large assembled crowd. The execution by hanging of four of Padua's leading citizens on the grounds of treason against the Republic of Venice. Public executions were not common in Venice. A complete description of the execution is provided by the Vicentine Luigi Da Porto, the author of Romeo and Juliet, who was there and wrote to a friend in Vicenza shortly afterwords: Many say that these noble Paduans were executed wrongly ... between them was carried a Cross ... behind them followed a brutal rogue (manigoldo) towards whom the sad ones turned to regard his frightening gaze. Each was dressed in long black robes, their hands tied to their backs ... over the hood was a long rope around their necks, which went down their back: a spectacle to the eyes of beholders so miserable and tearful that ... they could not keep from crying .. .in a procession, that penetrated the multitude ... [to the condemned] this or that Venetian friend would salute extending to them pathetic words ... messer Bertucci said to Trapolino [two of the condemned]: "behold the wood of our Cross."62 Such is the context in which the meditational image of the Christ Carrying the Cross, a painting created in the Bellini workshop from a matrix by Giovanni Bellini (another version even closer to the master's hand exists in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art [Ohio]), probably dating to about 1505, should be understood. The work is conceived almost like a narrow sculptural relief, and the figure of Christ stares outward at us, confronting us with his agony, in which we are to participate in religious empathy. The very lack of definition of his context serves as a catalyst to the viewer's own imagination in placing the event, and the painting is 62 I have provided the loose translation of the edited text of a long letter published in L. Da Porto, Lettere storiche di Luigi Da Porto, Florence, 1857, pp . 152-53 (18 December 1509). On the interesting, related phenomenon of the rather grisly tavolette depicting the Passion of Christ or martyrdoms of saints, fixed on a pole and shown to the condemned in their cells or held directly before their faces during their procession to execution by the brothers of the confraternity of San Giovanni Decollato of Florence (founded 1488) dressed in long black cassocks and hoods, see, Samuel Y. Edgerton, Jr., Pictures and Punishment, Art and Criminal Prosecution during the Florentine Renaissance , Ithaca, 1985, pp. 165-88. The tavolette, selected in correspondence to the mode of execution, were designed to focus the condemned's thoughts on redemption and help him relate to the passions of martyrs and Christ.


After Giovanni Bellini, Christ Carrying the Cross



Michelangelo, Pieta


distinctively Venetian in its remarkable sensitivity to soft modeling and atmospheric shading of the figure, the evocation of the tactile substance of sensual surfaces enhancing the vividness of the spiritual reality. One of the greatest internal visualizations of the passage of the human soul towards salvation is encompassed in the Divine Comedy of Dante (the three cantiche completed about 1310, 1314, 1321), in which the author travels from the "selva oscura," the dark forest of the soul lost in this world, to behold the "divina fontana" of man's salvation, the saga cast in the medieval three-level cosmos of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, guided by the spirit of the antique poet Virgil but also through the Marian purity of Beatrice. The 1502 edition exhibited is an example of the portable editions of texts that the Aldine Press popularized in Venice and established as one of its specializations. It is the first portable edition of the Divine Comedy. It is in the nature of self-examination -- and the shared cultural language of Dante's

poem as a syntax for expressing the journey of the soul -- that Michelangelo's moving drawing of the Pieta must be understood. Michelangelo prepared a limited number of presentation drawings, finished art works created with the intention of gift presentation, at three periods during his career: the 1520s (for Gherardo Perini), the early 1530s, and briefly in the 1540s. These drawings, as his gifts of poems, noted in the introduction, served to characterize his relations with those he loved, especially Tommaso de'Cavalieri and Vittoria Colonna. They were not created out of duty to patrons or on commission, but rather out of affection; as Michelangelo stated. In the early 1530s Michelangelo presented the handsome Tommaso de'Cavalieri with drawings of the Rape of Ganymede, Fall of Phaeton and Punishment of Tityos. Vittoria Colonna, Marchesa di Pescara, was the widow of the imperial general Ferrante Francesco d'A valos, and descended from one of the oldest and noblest Roman families. Devout and highly intelligent, she was a poet of note and one of the leading figures in the movement to reform the Church from within. Michelangelo became her very close friend and admirer during the last years of her life. They exchanged poems and letters with each other, and Vittoria Colonna owned a Noli Me Tangere designed by Michelangelo and executed by Pontormo (1531-32). Probably in the early 1540s (proposed datings for the sheets range from the late 1530s to about 1545), Michelangelo presented Colonna with three drawings, two of which -- a Christ on the Cross at the British Museum and the Gardner drawing -survive. The Gardner drawing was carried out at her request and is specifically mentioned by Ascanio Condivi in his 1553 biography of the still-living artist. On the upright of the Cross, Michelangelo has inscribed a line from Dante's Paradiso, "No one thinks of how much blood it costs" (non vi si pensa quanto sangu[ ... ]). Of course, the implication is precisely that the pious Colonna, as the artist himself, does


think on such matters. 63 Indeed, Michelangelo cites Christ's blood in several later poems. Barely visible in the underdrawing are alterations in the positioning of the hands of the Virgin. A crown of thorns is lightly delineated at the feet of Christ. The Virgin and her Son form complementary human crosses, and the meaning of her expression and gesture to heaven is given poetic expression through the verses running up the Cross. The poses of the angels suggest their orbital movement about Christ. Rotational compositional structures were used by Michelangelo at this time in the Last Judgment and, subsequently, in the Pauline Chapel. Sculptures made after death masks of venerated figures embody most obviously and immediately the physical experience of grace. In such images we come full circle; the very accuracy of the physical portrait becoming the terms of expression of spiritual reality. The Gardner Museum possesses a polychrome terracotta bust of San Bernardino. It is one of multiples produced (others in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and another quite similar in non-schematic, veristic type to the Gardner's at the church of San Giobbe in Venice). Ours dating probably to the end of the fifteenth century, based upon a death mask. San Bernardino was born in Siena in 1380 and died in Aquila in 1444. In 1450 his sainthood was promulgated. The depiction is clearly based upon a death mask of the saint in the possession of the Museo Diocesano at Aquila.64 Bernardino degli Albizzeschi was neither a profound intellect, leading theologian nor a mystic, although he was well-educated, born to a venerable and noble Sienese family. His beliefs and his prejudices (against usurers and Jews) were quite orthodox. Neither did he suffer persecution. He did, however, live in a troubled age, his native Siena torn by factional rivalries, city-states engaged in warfare, and, as Iris Origo has noted, "there was in him some quality which was instantly recognized by widely different kinds of men" of remarkably diverse stations of life, from emperor to humanist scholar to austere pope to merchants and warlords. 65 As she observes, his remarkable simplicity of life, his physically ascetic and fragile appearance, his projection of love and concern for his fellow man, his renowned sense of humor, his direct and affecting homilies and parables, and his remarkable talents as an orator made him renowned and loved throughout Italy during his lifetime.

63 James Saslow drew attention to this in a lecture he gave on Michelangelo's poetry at the February 1991 annual meeting of the College Art Association in Washington, D.C. 64 Iris Origo, The World of San Bernardino, New York, 1962, pl. XXXII. A typical, Sienese-style bust after the death mask, in which the features are elongated and more abstracted, is reproduced, pl. II. The Gardner head is more softly, naturalistically modeled. All of these busts use the death mask as a model but adapt and modify the features into a more "living" image. For a stylistic consideration of the Gardner terracotta, see Vermeule, et al., no. 141, pp. 112-13. 65 Origo, pp. 251-52.


He emphasized compassion over intellect and understanding as the fundamental road to grace. Like his spiritual inspiration, St. Francis, he eschewed the glories of this world for the pursuit of charity to one's neighbor and to one's own soul. He died during a tour of sermons, insisting on being laid on the ground of the cell of the convent of San Francesco. Immediately thereafter Aquila and Siena battled over his remains, which remained in Aquila, while his relics were distributed throughout the peninsula. His death mask, however, served as a source for countless painted and modeled images of the saint, the wan, veristic asceticism of the face appealing to the simple piety of the masses and evoking the private meditation and visualization of the piety, humility, and activity of the venerated figure .

Tuscan, late 15th century, San Bernardino




Masaccio (1401-1428/29) (attr. to)

*Piero della Francesca (ca. 1420-1492)

A Young Man in a Scarlet Turban


Tempera on panel P15E26

Fresco P15E17 Second Floor, Early Italian Room

Piero del Pollaiuolo (1443/ 47-1496) (attr. to)

*Botticelli (1444/ 45-1510)

A Woman in Green and Crimson

The Tragedy of Lucretia

Oil on panel P16W7

Tempera on panel P16E24 Second Floor, Raphael Room

Master of the Castello Nativity (attr. to)

*Raphael (1483-1520)

A Young Lady of Fashion

Count Tommaso Inghirami

Tempera and oil on panel P27W58

Oil on panel P16E4 Second Floor, Raphael Room

Francesco di Ubertino Verdi, called Bacchiacca (1494-1557)

*Baccio Bandinelli (1488/93-1560)

A Lady with a Nosegay


Oil on panel P15E13

Oil on panel P26E22 Third Floor, Titian Room

After Giovanni Bellini

Domenico Tintoretto (1560-1635)

Christ Carrying the Cross

A Lady in Black

Oil on panel P26N17

Oil on canvas P24E2

* Works to remain in galleries but included in catalogue



Antonio di Puccio Pisani, called Pisanello (active 1395-1455)

Antonio di Puccio Pisani, called Pisanello (active 1395-1455)

Filippo Maria Visconti

Niccolo Piccinino

Lead S15W30

Bronze S15W32

Tuscan, late 15th century

Mino da Fiesole (1431-1484)

San Bernardino

Relief Portrait of a Woman

Pol ychromed terra cotta


Roman, early 16th century

*Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571)

Bust of a Deacon

Bindo Altoviti

Marble S27W71

Bronze S26E21 Third Floor, Titian Room

Drawings Michelangelo (1475-1564)

Pi eta Black chalk

Books Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Cronica di Venexia

Lo'inferno e'l Purgatorio e'l Paradiso

Venice, ca. 1490

Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1502

Commissione ducale,

Commissione ducale, 1547

1546 Dogale granted by Francesco Donato to Vincenzo Gri tti, governor of U dine

Dogale granted by Francesco Donato to Girolamo Morosini, Capitano di Brescia

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571)

Vite de"piu eccellenti pittori, scultori et architettori

Vita Francesco Tassi, editor Florence, 1829, volume II The Fine Arts Library, Harvard University

Florence, Appresso i Giunti, 1568


Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) Vita Giovanni Palmede Carpani, editor Milan, 1811, volume II The Fine Arts Library, Harvard University

Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) Vita Giuseppe Molini, editor Florence, 1832, volume I The Fine Arts Library, Harvard University


Profile for Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Imaging the Self in Renaissance Italy  

Imaging the Self in Renaissance Italy