Re-thinking Renaissance Objects
101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booi i101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booi i 7/15/2011 11:12:51 ...
Re-thinking
Renaissance Objects
Edited by Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication
101-10...
This edition first published 2011
Originally published as Volume 24, Issue 1 of Renaissance Studies
Chapters © 2011 The Aut...
Anonymous, The Worm of Conscience (El Guzano de la Conciencia), in: Pablo Señeri SJ
[= Paolo Segneri SJ (1624–94)], El infi...
Contents
Notes on contributors ix
Introduction
Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley 1
1 Finding fame: painting and the makin...
Notes on contributors
Martino Ferrari Bravo works in Venice on architectural heritage projects. For
his thesis at the Univ...
published widely on German late Gothic sculpture and metalwork. His pub-
lications include Studien zur deutschen Alabaster...
Introduction
Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
The new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum...
sacred and secular belief, the problems inherent in distinguishing between
‘artists’ and ‘artisans’, and the various ways ...
Syson, shows how the deeply humanist interests, embedded in Renaissance
social life, were expressed through the use of obj...
materials, processes of manufacture, original appearance and initial finish are
crucial for establishing the meaning of an ...
works, providing a clearer insight into their function as well as the nature of
their production. For other chapters, howe...
aural social world. Just one example of this is provided by the role of prints in
spreading ideas and prompting the use or...
used in the lantern’s manufacture and the investigation of historical cultural
evidence. The approach gives them the evide...
The musical knives are a perfect example of Alfred Gell’s convincing argu-
ment that decorated objects and works of art mi...
1
Finding fame: painting and the making of careers in
Renaissance Italy
Michelle O’Malley
The following studies in this co...
The production values of the Madonna di Loreto are evidence of one of the
ramifications of fame, while the commission itsel...
This study considers the early careers of Alessandro Botticelli, Domenico
Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, who were to bec...
was to paint two panels that contributed to a set of seven images of the Virtues
for the Mercanzia, the high commercial co...
Florentines, dating from the second third of the fifteenth century.8
These tales
were probably gleaned from the Medici and ...
in May and June 1478.9
In 1478, Botticelli was working both for the Medici and
for the Florentine Signoria, and he and Sod...
power.16
Lorenzo’s goals and Soderini’s need to demonstrate Medici loyalty in
June 1470 suggest that the imposition of Bot...
Pollaiuolo’s figure. As Alison Wright notes, this induced Pollaiuolo to create,
in his final three Virtues, figures that were...
His strategy worked. Botticelli’s commissions in the 1470s suggests that,
whether or not he was actually nominated by Lore...
Banking connections were also important. In 1478, the Salutati bank, prob-
ably Benedetto Salutati himself, commissioned a...
be significant, depending on who was responsible for hiring Botticelli for the
Sistine commission. In 1480, the Vespucci co...
negotiate for a private chapel in the church.30
Around the same time, Botti-
celli may also have been hired by the Pucci t...
this Lamentation (Fig. 6), and he attempted a particularly Flemish approach to
painting Christ and the Virgin.33
This mean...
cant commission of the 1470s: his employment in 1475 to decorate the Library
of Pope Sixtus IV at the Vatican.(Fig. 7). Je...
distinct ability to recognize and seize opportunity made him appreciate the
force art had for shaping his own image and th...
Florentine colleagues.45
In 1474, Platina dedicated his text De optimo cive to
Lorenzo de’ Medici. Nicolai Rubinstein and ...
impossible.51
However, it is clear from the payment documents from the
Passignano commission, begun just after the Library...
operaio, who was appointed by the Florentine Signoria and answered to Arch-
bishop Filippo de’ Medici, a distant relative ...
project funds. He may have had the same responsibilities, which are similar to
those of Platina in the Library, for the bu...
in decorating the chapel that was designed to be a memorial for Sixtus, and he
clearly seized the opportunity to create a ...
cardinals.70
For Perugino, the work had another type of agency. It established
some of his most characteristic imagery, wh...
development of a painter is commonly seen in relation to the stylistic
evolution of his works, and this is perceived as un...
Sixtus’ burial chapel.75
Furthermore, engaging numerous masters and their
workshops to collaborate was a manner of attacki...
was not even employed when a substitute was required to replace Perugino.
This militates against Lorenzo’s sponsorship of ...
2
Set in stone: monumental altar frames in
Renaissance Florence
Meghan Callahan & Donal Cooper
The large Renaissance colum...
Re thinking renaissance objects (art ebook)
Re thinking renaissance objects (art ebook)
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Re thinking renaissance objects (art ebook)
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An Art ebook about the Renaissance period. A very good reference for those who are in Art studies. It explores and interprets the majority of art works done during the renaissance. (This is not mine, I've just downloaded it from the net)

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Re thinking renaissance objects (art ebook)

  1. 1. Re-thinking Renaissance Objects 101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booi i101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booi i 7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM
  2. 2. Re-thinking Renaissance Objects Edited by Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication 101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booiii iii101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booiii iii 7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM
  3. 3. This edition first published 2011 Originally published as Volume 24, Issue 1 of Renaissance Studies Chapters © 2011 The Authors Editorial organization © 2011 The Society for Renaissance Studies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd Blackwell Publishing was acquired by John Wiley & Sons in February 2007. Blackwell’s publishing program has been merged with Wiley’s global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business to form Wiley-Blackwell. Registered Office John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, United Kingdom Editorial Offices 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5020, USA 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services, and for information about how to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at www.wiley.com/wiley-blackwell. The right of Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley to be identified as the authors of the editorial material in this work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, without the prior permission of the publisher. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The publisher is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data Re-thinking Renaissance objects : design, function, and meaning / edited by Peta Motture, Michelle O’Malley. p. cm. – (Renaissance studies special issues ; 5) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4443-3775-4 (pbk.) 1. Renaissance. 2. Art, Renaissance. 3. Art, Renaissance–Italy. 4. Art objects, European– History. 5. Art objects, Italian–History. 6. Material culture–Europe–History. 7. Material culture– Italy–History. 8. Art and society–Europe–History. 9. Europe–Civilization. 10. Victoria and Albert Museum. I. Motture, Peta. II. O’Malley, Michelle. CB361.R34 2011 709.02′4094—dc22 2011013988 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. This book is published in the following electronic formats: ePDFs (9781444396751); Wiley Online Library (9781444396775); ePub (9781444396768) Set in 10/12 pt New Baskerville by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited 1 2011 101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booiv iv101-104_rest_Motture_Journal_booiv iv 7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM7/15/2011 11:12:51 AM
  4. 4. Anonymous, The Worm of Conscience (El Guzano de la Conciencia), in: Pablo Señeri SJ [= Paolo Segneri SJ (1624–94)], El infierno abierto al christiano, para que no caiga en el (. . .), Puebla: Pedro de la Rosa, 1780 (© Centro de Estudios de Historia de México). 105-106_rest_Motture Journal_boov v105-106_rest_Motture Journal_boov v 7/15/2011 11:13:29 AM7/15/2011 11:13:29 AM
  5. 5. Contents Notes on contributors ix Introduction Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley 1 1 Finding fame: painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy Michelle O’Malley 9 2 Set in stone: monumental altar frames in Renaissance Florence Meghan Callahan & Donal Cooper 33 3 Veit Stoss and the origins of collecting of small-scale sculpture before 1500 Norbert Jopek 56 4 New light on a Venetian lantern at the V&A Nick Humphrey & Martino Ferrari Bravo 71 5 Rethinking the Petrucci Pavement Elizabeth Miller & Alun Graves 94 6 Dancing, love and the ‘beautiful game’: a new interpretation of a group of fifteenth-century ‘gaming’ boxes Paula Nuttall 119 7 Sharing and status: the design and function of a sixteenth-century Spanish spice stand in the Victoria and Albert Museum Kirstin Kennedy 142 8 Scattered knives and dismembered song: cutlery, music and the rituals of dining Flora Dennis 156 Bibliography 185 Index 212 107-108_rest_Motture Journal_boovii vii107-108_rest_Motture Journal_boovii vii 7/15/2011 11:13:59 AM7/15/2011 11:13:59 AM
  6. 6. Notes on contributors Martino Ferrari Bravo works in Venice on architectural heritage projects. For his thesis at the Università degli Studi di Padova he wrote on Venetian navi- gation in the 18th century. He is currently researching and publishing on various aspects of Venetian maritime history. Meghan Callahan was the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Post-Doctoral Curato- rial Fellow on the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries project team at the V&A during 2006-8. She is an independent scholar in London currently working with Patricia Wengraf Ltd. Callahan’s research concentrates on sixteenth- century Florence, particularly the architectural patronage of Sister Domenica da Paradiso and the paintings of Lorenzo di Credi and his school. Donal Cooper is Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of Warwick. While Renaissance Course Tutor at the V&A from 2002-5, and subsequently as an Honorary Research Fellow, he contributed to the development of the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. His research focuses on ecclesiastical patronage of art and architecture in medieval and Renaissance Italy, particularly with regard to the Franciscan Order. Flora Dennis lectures in the Art History Department at the University of Sussex and is an Honorary Fellow of the Research Department at the V&A. Co-curator of the 2006 V&A exhibition At Home in Renaissance Italy, her research focuses on relationships between music, sound and the visual and material culture of sixteenth-century Italy. Alun Graves is a Curator in the Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceram- ics and Glass at the V&A. He has responsibility for the collections of twentieth- century and contemporary ceramics, and has published widely in this field. He is also the author of Tiles and Tilework of Europe (2002). Nick Humphrey is a curator in the department of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, where he works on European woodwork, from Medieval to c.1660. Before contributing to the development of the V&A’s new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, he co-ordinated the Tudor and Stuart sections of the British Galleries at the V&A (opened 2001). Norbert Jopek is Curator in the Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceram- ics and Glass and contributed to the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. He has
  7. 7. published widely on German late Gothic sculpture and metalwork. His pub- lications include Studien zur deutschen Alabasterplastik des 15. Jahrhunderts (1988) and German Sculpture 1430–1540: A catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (2002). Kirstin Kennedy is a curator of metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Before joining the Concept Team of the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the V&A, she held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Depart- ment of Spanish and Spanish American Studies, King’s College London. Her publications include Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions, with co-author Glyn Davies. Elizabeth Miller is Deputy Head of Research and Senior Curator of Prints at the V&A. She contributed to the development of the Medieval and Renais- sance Galleries and was a member of the research team for the exhibition ‘At Home in Renaissance Italy’, V&A, 2006. She is the author of Sixteenth-century Italian Ornament Prints in the Victoria and Albert Museum (1999). Peta Motture was Chief Curator of the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum. As Senior Curator of Sculpture at the Museum she has published widely on medieval and later sculpture, specializ- ing primarily in the Italian Renaissance. She has co-curated several exhibitions and is curator of the Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture Programme at the V&A. Paula Nuttall is Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Year Course at the V&A, and an independent scholar with a specialist interest in artistic relations between Italy and northern Europe in the fifteenth century. She is currently working on a study of the moresca and other secular themes. Michelle O’Malley is Reader in Art History at the University of Sussex and was the V&A-Sussex Exchange Senior Research Fellow, attached to the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries Project, 2005-6. She has published widely in the field, including The Business of Art (2005) and The Material Renaissance, co-edited with Evelyn Welch (2007). She is presently working on a book concerning the force that high demand for an artist’s work had on the production strategies, workshop organization, prices and output quality of Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi. x Notes on contributors
  8. 8. Introduction Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley The new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum result from a fundamental reinterpretation of the museum’s world-class col- lections covering 300–1600, and are designed to tell the story of art and design in Europe within a broad cultural perspective. Such an approach to contex- tualizing objects not only opens up a rich and nuanced understanding of artistic production, but also allows us to investigate how function and meaning were embedded in material and visual culture over 1300 years, a period stretching from the decline of the Roman Empire to, arguably, the establish- ment of modern Europe. While period terms, such as ‘medieval’ and ‘Renais- sance’ have long provided a helpful framework for grouping and viewing the museum’s objects, they are also misleading. In order to avoid what can be seen as artificial period divisions, the objects from this long time frame have been presented and interpreted in a coherent narrative for the first time. Similarly, Italian art has been reunited with that from northern Europe and Spain – an amendment to the previous arrangement in which the Italian fifteenth- and sixteenth-century material was separated out – thereby allowing associations and interconnections across Europe to be made, as well as regional differ- ences to be more immediately evident. While each room has its own narrative and date range, the chronology overlaps. This not only makes clear crucial continuities of form and function across time, but also highlights the growing number of objects and types of objects in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in comparison with earlier periods.rest_638 1..8 One of the objectives of the reinstallation is to create displays that challenge popular misconceptions about nomenclature, and to present complex ideas in a manner that is direct and easily accessible. By arranging the material in a series of ‘subject displays’ with a set of underlying themes that link their concepts together, the V&A aims to provided a focus for considering key issues at the heart of current scholarly debate.1 These include the overlap between 1 The brief of the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries Concept Team, set up in July 2002 and led by Malcolm Baker until October 2003, was to build on the award-winning thematic approach established in the British Galleries, which opened to critical acclaim in 2001. As part of the development process, the team consulted widely with curatorial and academic colleagues – for example, holding seminars to debate some of the overarching issues. Re-thinking Renaissance Objects, First Edition. Edited by Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley. Chapters © 2011 The Authors. Book compilation © 2011 Renaissance Studies/Blackwell Publising Ltd. Published 2011 by Blackwell Publising Ltd.
  9. 9. sacred and secular belief, the problems inherent in distinguishing between ‘artists’ and ‘artisans’, and the various ways in which ideas were exchanged across media and cultural boundaries. Some of these conceptual issues have been drawn out in the chapters in this volume, which, like the galleries, take an object or group of objects as their starting point for considering problems such as appearance, meaning, style and function. Here, as well as in the galleries, the works of art themselves lead the story, and this object-based approach has often helped to revolutionize our thinking about individual pieces and our under- standing of the culture for which they were created. Focussing on the later periods, the volume builds on a wealth of existing scholarship, particularly the recent trends in material culture studies. In addition, it emphasizes the tradi- tional V&A approach in which so-called ‘high art’ has long been studied with ‘decorative art’. This is notably highlighted by Glyn Davies and Kirstin Kennedy in their book Medieval & Renaissance Art: People and Possessions, written to complement the galleries, which draws together some of the central strands of enquiry across the entire period.2 Re-thinking Renaissance Objects is unique amongst the gallery-related publications in bringing together authors repre- senting different specialisms from within and outside the museum, some writing in collaboration, to shed new light on how the design, function and meaning of an object has an impact on our understanding of the culture for which it was made. Specifically, this volume takes up a strand of research that focuses on the re-conceptualization of the Renaissance as a culture in which civic, religious and personal status was both shaped and conveyed by the proliferation of objects that people and social groups owned, used and displayed. Richard Goldthwaite first tracked the sheer numbers of objects developed and pro- duced in Renaissance Italy; later scholars have underlined the meaning of these objects in everyday life.3 Dora Thornton’s important work The Scholar in his Study, for example, demonstrates the central place objects held in the practice of humanism, and Objects of Virtue, written by Thornton and Luke 2 Glyn Davies and Kirstin Kennedy, Medieval & Renaissance Art: People and Possessions (London: V&A Publish- ing, 2009). This volume is part of a substantial publication programme, consisting of several books and articles, including Marian Campbell, Medieval Jewellery in Europe 1100–1500 (London: V&A Publishing, 2009); Angus Patterson, Fashion and Armour in Renaissance Europe. Proud Lookes and Brave Attire (London: V&A Publishing, 2009); Eleanor Townsend, Death and Art: Europe 1200–1530 (London: V&A Publishing, 2009); Jo Wheeler, with the assistance of Katy Temple, Renaissance Secrets, Recipes & Formulas (London: V&A Publishing, 2009); Paul Williamson and Peta Motture (eds.), Medieval & Renaissance Treasures (London: V&A Publishing, 2010). All the gallery interpretation, together with much additional new information on the collections (including aspects that were not possible to achieve through gallery displays), is available on the V&A website; a list of current V&A titles can also be found: see www.vam.ac.uk. 3 Richard A. Goldthwaite, ‘The Empire of Things: Consumer Demand in Renaissance Italy’, in F. W. Kent and P. Simons (eds.), Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 63–77; Richard A. Goldthwaite, Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy. 1300–1600 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993). 2 Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
  10. 10. Syson, shows how the deeply humanist interests, embedded in Renaissance social life, were expressed through the use of objects whose shape or decora- tion made clear the popular understanding of the classical past.4 Other central studies of the value placed on objects, particularly objects that encapsulate the rituals of marriage and childbirth, embody meanings in the decorated domes- tic interior, or were significant for maintaining and developing human rela- tionships include the work of Isabella Palumbo-Fossati, Jacqueline Musacchio, Natasha Korda, Patricia Fortini Brown, Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd, Evelyn Welch, Andrea Bayer, the Material Renaissance project, as well as Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis, whose ground-breaking exhibition At Home in Renaissance Italy was held at the V&A in 2006.5 This scholarship is the product of both academics and museum curators, and in many instances it represents scholars from those arenas working in collaboration. At the heart of the research is a concern for classes of material and their meanings within early modern society – primarily in Italy. Inspired by and largely coming out of research undertaken in connection with the new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the V&A, this volume builds on recently developed approaches and findings, presenting new research that explores issues of production and of meaning in objects manufactured across Europe. The chapters here primarily arise from two central aspects of the study of Renaissance material culture. The first is the study of the object as primary document – an approach that, though not unique to museum schol- arship, is a fundamental element of it, given the exceptional potential the museum environment provides for in-depth examination of the tangible remains of both past and present cultures. The chapters in Re-Thinking Renais- sance Objects overtly explore the works of art under scrutiny as primary evi- dence of the period: in each case, research begins with close examination of a particular object and uses that as the nexus for investigating its human context and cultural importance. The research shows how understanding 4 See Dora Thornton, The Scholar in his Study: Ownership and Experience in Renaissance Italy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998) and Luke Syson and Dora Thornton, Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy (London: Yale University Press, 2001). 5 Isabella Palumbo-Fossati, ‘L’interno della casa dell’artigiano e dell’artista nella Venezia del Cinquecento’, Studi veneziani VII (1984), 109–53; Jacqueline M. Musacchio, The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy (New York and London: Yale University Press, 1999); idem., Art, Marriage and Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace (New York and London: Yale, 2008); Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd (eds.), Revaluing Renaissance Art (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000); Natasha Korda, Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002); Patricia Fortini Brown, Private Lives in Renaissance Venice (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004); Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis (eds.), At Home in Renaissance Italy (London: V&A Publications, 2006); Michelle O’Malley, ‘Altarpieces and Agency: The Altarpiece of the Society of the Purification and its “invisible skein of relations” ’, Art History 28, No. 4 (2005), 417–41; Evelyn Welch, Shopping in the Renaissance (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005); Michelle O’Malley and Evelyn Welch (eds.), The Material Renaissance (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007) and Andrea Bayer (ed.), Art and Love in Renaissance Italy (New York; New Haven and London: Metropolitan Museum; Yale University Press, 2008). Introduction 3
  11. 11. materials, processes of manufacture, original appearance and initial finish are crucial for establishing the meaning of an artefact. Indeed, the procedures followed in analysing objects are outlined in many of the chapters, demon- strating the value of prolonged and repeated engagement with single works of art or with specific, coherent classes of objects. The second focus of the volume is the deep connection between our understanding of the materiality of objects and our comprehension of the practices of early modern social life. Anthropologists as well as art historians have widely demonstrated how the complexities of human interaction and the intricacies of social values are embedded in objects. They have shown how things evince not only skill and ingenuity, but also systems of thought.6 Many of the studies published here underline how understanding the nature of Renaissance objects – that is, how they were made, what their iconography is and how they functioned in the period – can uncover hitherto unrecognized modes of behaving, exchanging and valuing that may elude surviving written documentation. Running throughout the volume is the consideration of a subject implicit in work undertaken across the discipline yet now rarely taught in university art history departments or even discussed outside the museum context: the issue of quality. This is an element recognized through connoisseurship, an approach that has frequently been ignored in studies that deal with issues of cultural context, but is alive and well for those working directly with objects. The consideration of quality is not, however, mutually exclusive to other modes of scholarship and is only meaningful if taken into account along with other evidence. The research presented here touches on the notion of quality in the Renaissance itself and considers such issues as the deliberate creation of different levels of quality in the workshop, particularly in relation to painting, tableware and decorated boxes, as similar objects were made for different markets. In each chapter the issues that are investigated arose from direct and prolonged confrontation with the object itself. In some cases, the most press- ing issue was about functionality. ‘What is it?’ was a key question asked, for example, of a small, silver, indented object in the V&A’s Metalwork collection and of a group of decorated boxes assumed to be gaming boards, examples of which are held in the museum’s Sculpture collection. Here, the analysis of form, as well as the consideration of various types of related visual material and archival documentation, brought to light the original character of the 6 See, for instance, Arjun Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cam- bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood, The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption (London: Routledge, 1996); Alfred Gell, Art and Agency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); Carl Knappett, Thinking Through Material Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005). 4 Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
  12. 12. works, providing a clearer insight into their function as well as the nature of their production. For other chapters, however, questions focused not on what the object was but on where or how it performed in everyday life. Cases in point include the carved marble altar frame long on view in the museum near to the Florentine Santa Chiara Chapel, as well as a large Venetian wooden lantern and a table knife engraved with musical notation. For the latter pair, the authors drew on both visual and technical investigation, exploring exactly how the pieces in question were manufactured, what signs they show of wear, and how they relate visually to similar objects in order to elucidate their function, their physical context and their place of manufacture. The Petrucci Pavement offered an example of another kind of conundrum: that is, dealing with objects that are composed of numerous elements. While each pavement tile is an individual artefact, made using both technical and artistic skill, the question of how this large group of tiles fitted together to create a coherent flooring pattern has been a vexing one since their acquisi- tion in the late 1850s. Solving the problem of the pavement’s original appear- ance required working with hundreds of tiles of several different shapes: a research task complicated by the fact that the V&A does not hold the entire pavement, though relevant pieces exist in other collections. The study of the altar frame provided a similar research puzzle because it was never intended to exist on its own, but to complement and enclose yet-to-be-identified figu- rative works of art, probably both painted and sculpted, integral to an unknown architectural setting. It is arguable, in fact, that many of the indi- vidual artefacts studied here were, or might have been created to form part of a larger ensemble or set. While an object’s form, and thus frequently its function, can be recovered through analysis of its visual and material qualities, information about the identity of its maker, original owner and location, as well as its cost and provenance are often almost impossible to discover, especially given that many objects were not specifically commissioned. Many such questions were, however, answered long ago for works of so-called high art, for which there is precise documentation. For this reason, the study of paintings and sculptures as material objects gives us the scope to consider wide issues that pertain to a broad spectrum of Renaissance artefacts. This includes the way human rela- tionships might engender the creation of new works, the meaning objects had for the career trajectory of their makers, the agency objects might exert in particular professional and social lives, and the monetary value of things in the early modern world. Just as the study of ‘high’ art can illuminate aspects of the ‘decorative’ arts, research into the production and use of functional (albeit also decorative) objects can illuminate attitudes towards the acquisition and ownership of painting and sculpture that was viewed primarily as ‘art’. Indeed, central to this volume is our belief that studying designed, functional objects together with commissioned paintings and sculptures is critical for under- standing the depth and breadth of the early modern visual, tactile, and even Introduction 5
  13. 13. aural social world. Just one example of this is provided by the role of prints in spreading ideas and prompting the use or interpretation of specific motifs in new media.7 This volume begins with a consideration of the people behind the commis- sioning and making of works of art; specifically it looks at the importance that human relationships had for generating the professional lives of artists and artisans. By examining the early careers of the painters Alessandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, Michelle O’Malley draws on precise information to trace associations among painters, clients and potential clients in order to argue that certain connections played powerful roles in the artists’ development. As an outcome of this, she considers a new understand- ing of the route these painters took to employment in the Sistine Chapel in 1481. Some objects are rare survivals of a whole class of artefact that offer glimpses of a material ambiance that is now largely lost. In the second chapter, Meghan Callahan and Donal Cooper discuss such an object: a Florentine altar frame that offers evidence of a growing appreciation of aesthetic integration, formal order and spatial symmetry within Florentine church interiors in the years around 1500. They analyse the frame’s technical qualities, architectural details, and means of installation to suggest how it may have been designed to incorporate a painted altarpiece and tin-glazed terracotta lunette. Looking at these aspects, and considering its scale, the quality of its carving and what can be gleaned of its history, the authors are able to suggest a potential candidate for its original location. The object allows us to reconstruct the appearance of a generation of altarpiece frames highly significant in Florentine design but now mainly destroyed. Norbert Jopek’s analysis of small-scale German sculpture again underlines the value of networks for the well-being of artists’ careers, particularly those that introduce new types of work, including religious images produced pri- marily – and consciously – as works of art. It also proposes a much earlier date than has hitherto been recognized for the impact of Italian humanist ideas on artistic production north of the Alps. The way that leading workshops served both the elite and the broader market is also touched upon. The Venetian lantern examined by Nick Humphrey and Martino Ferrari Bravo is an example of another type of sculptural work; in this case a large functional object of a kind seldom studied. Yet the work’s quality and condition offer opportunities rarely possible in the investigation of related wooden furnish- ings of the period, which are commonly highly modified. In an interdiscipli- nary study, the authors demonstrate the significance and value of combining close examination of surviving textual material, the analysis of the techniques 7 David Landau and Peter Parshall, The Renaissance Print: 1470–1550 (New Haven and London: Yale Univer- sity Press, 1994); Michael Snodin and Maurice Howard, Ornament: A Social History since 1450 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996); Elizabeth Miller, Sixteenth-Century Italian Ornament Prints in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: V&A Publications, 1999). 6 Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
  14. 14. used in the lantern’s manufacture and the investigation of historical cultural evidence. The approach gives them the evidence to argue for a review of the lantern’s original setting, and, through the formal investigation of its orna- ment, to reconsider its date. In reconstructing the pavement of the Petrucci Palace, Elizabeth Miller and Alun Graves examine a type of splendid flooring once commonly found in elite Renaissance interiors, the elements of which are now often dispersed as individual tiles that give no hint of their original roles in a coherent decorative ensemble. The authors discuss the problems involved in studying such a multi-part work and describe the almost-forensic approach required in piecing it together. Their discovery of the overall design of the flooring, taken with its original setting, is vital to our understanding of the richness and diversity of the visual culture in Italy; it demonstrates how the distinctions between eastern and western decorative elements were clearly blurred in the period. Such findings are also emphasized in Paula Nuttall’s chapter on a group of ‘gaming’ boxes decorated with carved ivory and bone. She shows that a strand of Islamic design was integral to the world of Catholic, European decoration from at least the thirteenth century, and that Arabic dance was the foundation of an erotic, abandoned mode of performance at both courtly entertainments and civic celebrations. Indeed, Nuttall’s work on the connec- tions between moresque dance and the carved decoration of ‘gaming’ boxes demonstrates the profound link between objects and social practices, for she argues that the boxes were connected to marriage and their decoration to prompting discussion of love. Her research underlines the power that deco- ration might have to shape the routines of daily life. The ability of objects to influence patterns of behaviour is also particularly apparent in the studies that deal with dining and its etiquette. Kirstin Kennedy’s consideration of a small silver piece of Spanish tableware shows that the use of spices at table engendered particular kinds of dining. She also makes clear the longevity and strength of the national characteristics that infused the practices of preparing and serving food, and underlines how closely systems of eating were bound up with the development of objects for the table. Flora Dennis’s exploration of a hybrid table object reveals a fasci- nating relationship between music and the material culture of dining. Dennis outlines the precision of the musical notation engraved on a group of sixteenth-century knives and explores the appearance, quality, production and design of the objects to suggest the place of their manufacture and the context of their use. Furthermore, her analysis of the musical voices on the small group of surviving knives makes it clear that polyphonic song, not chant, was performed at table, and underlines the fact that sets of such objects were created for singing blessings and benedictions. Like pavement tiles, the knives are often presently admired as single objects, and while the design of each object is unique, research emphasizes that it only functioned properly as an element of a coherent group. Introduction 7
  15. 15. The musical knives are a perfect example of Alfred Gell’s convincing argu- ment that decorated objects and works of art might play crucial roles as agents for particular kinds of social interaction.8 Indeed, many of the objects discussed in this volume functioned as causal instruments for particular behaviour. Small-scale sculptures, for example, created opportunities for intellectual interaction, such as the exquisite Virgin and Child by Veit Stoss that would have been admired as a collector’s piece, or the decorated marriage boxes, with their references to the sexual space of gaming, which prompted discussions of love. Saltcellars clustered diners into distinctive groups at table and knives engraved with musical notation had the potential to weld them into choruses. Paintings were often the nodal points for connections between people that reached widely and deeply into the social world. By expressing such elements as political interests, geographical connections and the visual fascinations of particular groups, such as bankers, paintings provoked behav- iour and were often the causal agents for new works. Objects fulfilled similar functions. Moreover they were frequently adopted and adapted, like the Venetian lantern that journeyed from ship to palace, and this underscores the ability of objects to bridge places and social groups. The chapters here explore objects as carriers of meaning in everyday life, culture and ritual in the Renaissance. They provide an insight into how objects acted as an effective force in the relationship between artist and patron and underline how designed works were significant for the transmission of ideas, trade, diplomacy, friendship and belief. Reflecting the aims of the new gal- leries, the research of Re-Thinking Renaissance Objects demonstrates the complex, multivalent qualities of artefacts. It highlights the variety of meaning sited in them and makes plain the rich evidence of social life embedded in their fabric. 8 Gell, Art and Agency. 8 Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley
  16. 16. 1 Finding fame: painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy Michelle O’Malley The following studies in this collection address central issues about the design and function of works of art and they bring to light crucial findings concern- ing the appearance of works, their intended sites, the requirements of their owners and the import they held for their users. These are essential for understanding the meaning that works of art had in the world. It is worth noting, however, that the objects made by artists and artisans also had an important meaning for the professions of their makers: they were the mate- rials that constructed their careers. By the end of the fifteenth century, works of art stood as much for their creators as for their purchasers. What this meant in practice is evident in the panel of the Madonna di Loreto altarpiece, now installed in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Fig. 1).1 Pietro Perugino painted the altarpiece in 1507, when he was arguably at the height of his fame as one of the most important artists in Italy. Despite this, he took on the commission for a fee much lower, in real terms, than he commonly accepted.2 The clients were the heirs of a Perugian carpenter, perhaps a former colleague, and this may explain the low payment. The manufacture of the work, however, reflects a higher level of attention than the cost might lead us to expect. In particular, aspects of the underdraw- ing, probably made from existing cartoons, were corrected freehand, and the relatively inexpensive pigments used to colour the robes of the Madonna and St Jerome were carefully glazed to look more expensive. This suggests that one of the requirements of fame was to turn out objects of excellence, whatever their price, and that Perugino was well aware that the works of art that his business produced reflected directly upon him: he could not afford to be associated with a cheap-looking product.rest_640 9..32 I am very grateful to Liz James, Peta Motture and Paula Nuttall for their critical reading of versions of this text, and to the Research Fund of the Sussex School of Humanities for assisting with reproduction costs. Research was undertaken during the period of a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and I am eternally grateful to the Trust for its generous award. 1 Carol Plazzotta et al., ‘Perugino’s Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis for Santa Maria dei Servi, Perugia’, National Gallery Technical Bulletin 27 (2006), 72–95. 2 See Michelle O’Malley, ‘Perugino and the Contingency of Value’, in Michelle O’Malley and Evelyn Welch (ed.), The Material Renaissance (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), 106–30; Michelle O’Malley, ‘Quality and the Pressures of Reputation: Rethinking Perugino’, Art Bulletin, 89 (2007), 674–93. Re-thinking Renaissance Objects, First Edition. Edited by Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley. Chapters © 2011 The Authors. Book compilation © 2011 Renaissance Studies/Blackwell Publising Ltd. Published 2011 by Blackwell Publising Ltd.
  17. 17. The production values of the Madonna di Loreto are evidence of one of the ramifications of fame, while the commission itself suggests the breadth of the human associations that painters, even painters to the elite, established in the period. But how did Perugino and other especially sought-after artists and artisans acquire their reputations and become well known in the first place? While much of the precise information about the dating, ownership and original location of works that is necessary for tracing the steps of the careers of artisans such as the tile designers, master woodworkers and silversmiths treated in this volume is now lost, such material often survives for painters, especially those with significant reputations in the late fifteenth century. The information allows us to speculate on the role key individuals and the works they commissioned played in the creation of artists’ reputations and the launch of stellar careers. Fig. 1 Pietro Perugino, Madonna di Loreto, c. 1507, oil on panel, 189.1 ¥ 157.5 cm, London, National Gallery (© The National Gallery, London) 10 Michelle O’Malley
  18. 18. This study considers the early careers of Alessandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, who were to become among the most well-known painters in late fifteenth-century Italy, and it draws on our under- standing of the importance of human relationships in all aspects of life in the Renaissance. It argues that connections among people – between individual patrons and potential patrons as well as between painters and particular clients – were crucial for the development of careers, and it contends that certain works, because of their ownership and often their site, directed the trajectory of each artist’s professional life. Central to this analysis are findings in Renaissance history and art history that underscore the cohesion of neighbourhoods across social levels, high- light the importance of networks for business and political advancement, and emphasize the complexity of social interaction in the period.3 The evidence is that networks worked dynamically: they crossed social divides and were mutu- ally reciprocal. This suggests that tracing the networks behind works of art is a way toward understanding career development. The ideas proposed here are necessarily speculative, but it is especially worth considering the early commissions of Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino because in 1481 they were awarded one of the most important jobs in fifteenth-century Italy: the painting of the Sistine Chapel walls. It was a commission that solidified their reputations and ensured their professional success. The same cannot be said with such force, though, of the fourth member of the team, the Florentine painter Cosimo Rosselli. While Rosselli produced a large body of work, he was never famous, neither before nor after the Sistine. For this reason, he provides a control for the study. He can aid in defining fame, and his relationships may help in understanding the route the Sistine painters followed to the papal commission. ALESSANDRO BOTTICELLI (c.1445–1510) Early in his career, Botticelli became embedded in a network of politically powerful Florentine clients. In 1470, after a few years of painting small panels for domestic devotion, he received his first public commission in Florence. It 3 Dale Kent, Cosimo de’ Medici and the Florentine Renaissance (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000); Patricia Lee Rubin, Images and Identity in Fifteenth-century Florence (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007); O’Malley and Welch, Material Renaissance; Dale Kent, ‘The Dynamic Power in Cosimo de’ Medici’s Florence’, in F. W. Kent, P. Simons, and J. C. Eade (eds.), Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); Melissa Bullard, ‘Heroes and their Workshops: Medici Patronage and the Problem of Shared Agency’, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 24 (1994) 179–98; Nicholas A. Eckstein, The District of the Green Dragon (Florence: Olschi, 1995); Tracey E Cooper, ‘Mecanatismo or Clientelismo? The Character of Renaissance Patronage’, in David G. Wilkins and Rebecca L. Wilkins (eds.), The Search for a Patron in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, (Lewiston NY, Queenstown, Ontario: Edwin Mellon Press, 1996); Dale Kent and F. W. Kent, Neighbours and Neighbourhood in Renaissance Florence: The District of the Red Lion in the Fifteenth Century (Locust Valley, NY: J. J. Augustin, 1982); F. W. Kent, Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Art of Magnificence (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 55; Paul D. McLean, The Art of the Network: Strategic Interaction and Patronage in Renaissance Florence (Durham NC and London: Duke University Press, 2007). Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 11
  19. 19. was to paint two panels that contributed to a set of seven images of the Virtues for the Mercanzia, the high commercial court of Florence.4 The commission came about through direct, high-level intervention, which was perhaps more complicated, more political and more dependent on webs of social connec- tions than has generally been considered. The importance of the Mercanzia in Florence’s economic life, as well as the centrality and visibility of its palace, made the commission extremely presti- gious, and the job was sought by many painters.5 Perhaps because their choice was wide, the magistrates went through a careful procedure in which they first commissioned only the single figure of Charity from Antonio Pollaiuolo (Fig. 2). They then appraised it, reviewed drawings he and other artists made for the remaining six figures, and actively considered the value of hiring numerous painters over one. After this thorough procedure, they re- employed Pollaiuolo, just before Christmas 1469. He was to complete the series in nine months. When nothing was forthcoming by the following June, Tommaso Soderini, one of the operaii overseeing the project, intervened specifically to cause the court to hire Botticelli to paint two of the outstanding Virtues. A terse entry in the Mercanzia’s accounts is specific about Soderini’s contravention of the magistrates’ careful commissioning process.6 In 1470, Tommaso Soderini was among the most powerful men in Florence after Lorenzo de’ Medici, so his intervention is tantalizing. Herbert Horne introduced the idea that Soderini’s motive in introducing Botticelli was friendship. He based his analysis on a jokey exchange recorded between Soderini and the painter, recently traced to Angelo Poliziano’s Detti piacevoli (‘pleasing sayings’).7 While this has seemed to explain the statesman’s support of the painter, there are issues with the dating of Poliziano’s text and with the politics of the period that might cast doubt on this contained reading of the situation. The anecdote is fairly anodyne; it concerned why Botticelli had not taken a wife. Two things are relevant here. First, it seems strong to assert friendship from the remarks, as they have the character of casual male badinage at a worksite. Secondly, and more importantly, the story probably does not date from 1470 or earlier. Poliziano only started his book in 1477, but the first tranche of work, written before April 1478, concerns stories of important 4 For the commission, panel sequence and document transcriptions, see Alison Wright, The Pollaiuolo Brothers (New Haven and London: Yale, 2005), 231–49; 561–3. 5 The Mercanzia’s palazzo was adjacent to the Palazzo Vecchio; the room to be decorated was on the ground floor. The interest of several painters was noted in the deliberations of 18 December 1469: Wright, Pollaiuolo, 562. 6 On Soderini’s appointment to the Operà, see Alessandro Cecchi, Botticelli (Milan: Motta, 2005) 100; for the document, see Wright, Pollaiuolo, 563. 7 H. L. Horne, Alessandro Filipepi, Commonly Called Sandro Botticelli (London: 1908), 43–4, docs I, II; Cecchi, Botticelli, 62–3. For Poliziano, see Ida Maïer, Ange Politien: La formation d’un poete humaniste, 1469–1480 (Geneva: Droz, 1966), 419–24. 12 Michelle O’Malley
  20. 20. Florentines, dating from the second third of the fifteenth century.8 These tales were probably gleaned from the Medici and their associates: Poliziano was living in Lorenzo de’ Medici’s house at the time. As Tommaso Soderini was Lorenzo de Medici’s uncle, such stories might have concerned him, but the Soderini/Botticelli exchange only appears in the second group of detti, written 8 Angelo Poliziano, Detti piacevoli, ed. Tiziano Zanato (Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1983), 1–2. Fig. 2 Antonio Pollaiulo, Charity, 1470, tempera and oil on cypress wood, 167 ¥ 87 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (© Photo SCALA, Florence – courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Attach. Culturali) Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 13
  21. 21. in May and June 1478.9 In 1478, Botticelli was working both for the Medici and for the Florentine Signoria, and he and Soderini might reasonably have met in the Medici palace or government buildings. The implication is that this was not a story from the past, but a conversation that occurred around the time that Poliziano recorded it. Poliziano’s two other quips of Botticelli’s support this reading. They were both recorded in the period from mid-1478 to late 1479, when the humanist, as prior of San Paolino, was the painter’s next door neighbour and thus had the opportunity to talk with him regularly.10 The chronology suggests that the exchange cannot be used convincingly to argue for a friendship between Soderini and Botticelli in 1470, so there is probably another reason that Soderini put Botticelli’s name forward. That reason may have been political. The month of June 1470, when he intervened in the Mercanzia commission, was a particularly complicated time for Soderini because he had just slipped from the highest stratum of power.11 Soderini served, among his many positions, as one of Florence’s ambassadors in the negotiations over the balance of power in Italy occasioned by the crisis of Rimini, begun in 1468.12 Complicated discussions with Milan, Venice and Naples dragged into 1470, and by April it became clear to Lorenzo that Soderini, a hugely ambitious politician, was supporting alliance with Naples purely because it would cause war with Milan, Florence’s traditional ally, and war would increase the young Lorenzo’s dependence on him. Lorenzo was furious, and in May he asserted his own will in the negotiations. By June, according to Paula Clarke, Soderini was showing ‘greater humility to Lorenzo’.13 During the same spring, Lorenzo was actively tightening his control of government offices and restricting their powers; his intentions included a reform of the Mercanzia and command of its artistic commissions.14 At the time, Lorenzo already controlled the Mercanzia’s opera overseeing the court’s com- mission at Orsanmichele.15 Given Lorenzo’s political ambitions at the Mercan- zia, it is almost certain that he was involved in Soderini’s flouting of the court’s strict commissioning process. Certainly using Soderini, a court operaio, to effect change correlates with the way Niccolai Rubenstein argues that Lorenzo preferred to dominate, that is, by manipulating established channels of 9 Ibid., 75. 10 Poliziano was appointed prior at Lorenzo’s instigation in October 1477; he left Lorenzo’s household in June 1478: Maïer, Ange Politien, 421–2. 11 See Nicolai Rubinstein, The Government of Florence under the Medici, 1434–1492 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 201–2; Paula C. Clarke, The Soderini and the Medici: Power and Patronage in Fifteenth-century Florence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 180–201. 12 Clarke, Soderini, 177–94. 13 Clarke, Soderini, 193–4. 14 Rubinstein, Government of Florence, 199–215; Clarke, Soderini, 201–07; Melinda Hegarty, ‘Laurentian Patron- age in the Palazzo Vecchio: The Frescoes of the Sala dei Gigli’, The Art Bulletin lvii (1996), 265–85; Andrew Butterfield, ‘Verrocchio’s “Christ and St Thomas”: chronology, iconography and political context’, Burlington Magazine, vol. 124, no. 1069 (April 1992), 225–33. 15 Butterfield, Verrochio’s Christ, 229. 14 Michelle O’Malley
  22. 22. power.16 Lorenzo’s goals and Soderini’s need to demonstrate Medici loyalty in June 1470 suggest that the imposition of Botticelli at the Mercanzia had more to do with politics than with the promotion of a friend. While this may help to explain the reason for Soderini’s intervention, how Botticelli was chosen is still a question. While there was probably little con- nection in 1470 between Botticelli and Lorenzo and Soderini, the web of mutual associations among them was strong. Botticelli was the next-door neighbour of Ser Nastagio Vespucci. The family members were familiars of the Medici household, and this means that they were associates of Soderini as well as of Lorenzo. Ser Amerigo, Nastagio’s father, served three generations of Medici as Chancellor of Florence.17 Ser Nastagio, a renowned jurist, was a notary to both the Signoria and the Arte del Cambio, the bankers’ guild. Working closely with the Medici in two spheres of their operation, he probably could easily have learned of Medici interest in the commission and have lodged a recommendation of his neighbour. Nastagio’s brother, the humanist Giorgio Antonio Vespucci, knew Lorenzo as a fellow member of the Platonist circle (in 1476 Lorenzo chose Giorgio Antonio to tutor his wards) and he was also closely connected to Soderini: by 1470 he had been tutoring Soderini’s sons for about ten years.18 Giorgio Antonio could have made sure the states- man knew the young painter was available. While there is no evidence that the Vespucci championed Botticelli, it is clear that either Lorenzo or Soderini, or both, could easily have come to learn details about the painter when they were considering an intervention at the Mercanzia. Given that neighbourhoods were among the principal arenas in Renaissance Florence for establishing bonds of social, business and political support, it is not unthinkable that the Vespucci might have wanted to position themselves as power brokers by promoting their neighbour for a prestigious commission.19 Because Botticel- li’s work had hitherto been centred on domestic pieces, he probably was not considered by the court originally, and this may have made him especially attractive to Lorenzo for asserting power. In any case, Botticelli seized the opportunity to make an impact on the look of the Virtues (Fig. 3). He subtly edited the model proposed by Pollaiuolo’s Charity by making his Fortitude more monumental and more all’antica than 16 Nicolai Rubinstein, The Palazzo Vecchio, 1298–1532 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 3. 17 On the Vespucci see Horne, Botticelli, 70; Rab Hatfield, Botticelli’s Uffizi Adoration: A Study in Pictorial Content (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 15, n. 18; Waldman, Louis A., ‘Botticelli and his Patrons: The Arte del Cambio, the Vespucci, and the Compagnia dello Santo Spirito in Montelupo’, in Rab Hatfield (ed.), Sandro Botticelli and Herbert Horne (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2009); on Ser Amerigo, see Ronald G. Kecks, Domenico Ghirlandaio und die Malerei der Florentiner Renaissance (Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstver- lag, 2000), 45. 18 On Lorenzo as a poet, see Sara Sturm Maddox, Lorenzo de’ Medici (New York: Twayne, 1974); on Giorgio Antonio as a tutor, see K. J. P. Lowe, Church and Politics in Renaissance Italy: The Life and Career of Cardinal Francesco Soderini (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 11–12; and Nicoletta Baldini, ‘In the Shadow of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The role of Lorenzo and Giovanni di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici’, in Mina Gregori (ed.), In the Light of Apollo, (Athens: Silvana, 2003), 277. 19 See note 3. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 15
  23. 23. Pollaiuolo’s figure. As Alison Wright notes, this induced Pollaiuolo to create, in his final three Virtues, figures that were more substantial, more classical and more spatially immediate than the first three panels.20 The critique that Botticelli’s work made of Pollaiuolo’s suggests that Botticelli recognized the value of the commission and determined to use it to draw attention to his skills and advance his career. 20 Wright, Pollaiuolo, 231–49. Fig. 3 Sandro Botticelli, Fortitude, 1470, tempera and oil on cypress wood, 167 ¥ 87 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (© 2001 Photo SCALA, Florence – courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Attach. Culturali) 16 Michelle O’Malley
  24. 24. His strategy worked. Botticelli’s commissions in the 1470s suggests that, whether or not he was actually nominated by Lorenzo for the Mercanzia Fortitude, the painter was regarded as one of the Medici’s painters of choice soon after the panel was completed. This does not mean that Lorenzo was one of his principal clients – the Medici did not commission much painting – but that the panel, as evidence of an association, was an agent for later work.21 It is possible that Lorenzo actively put Botticelli forward for public and private commissions, but simply being perceived as being favoured by Lorenzo made Botticelli attractive to others.22 The evidence for this analysis is that, in the mid-1470s, Botticelli created images of the Adoration of the Magi, a Medici subject, for the Pucci, well-known Medici supporters; for the Operà of the Palazzo Vecchio, a group known to be controlled by Lorenzo; and for Gasparre del Lama, the chief broker at the Arte del Cambio.23 Del Lama was not socially connected with the Medici, but his altarpiece contained images of Cosimo and other members of the Medici family as magi and onlookers. In the same period, Botticelli painted portraits of young Florentine men holding a medal of Cosimo il Vecchio.24 Both the altarpiece and the portraits seem to have been intended to demonstrate political loyalty. There are no such works for non-elites by other painters, and this suggests a complex conception of Botticelli as associated with the Medici and thus a good choice for people who wanted to impress the family. More directly, Botticelli was hired by Giuliano de’ Medici to create his standard for the joust held in 1476; by Lorenzo or his wards to paint the Primavera; and by the family or its supporters to create posthumous portraits of Giuliano, killed during the Pazzi conspiracy. In addition, the Signoria employed Botticelli to paint pitture infamante of the Pazzi conspirators.25 This was almost certainly at the suggestion of Lorenzo, who was a member of the Otto di Guardia in May 1478 and composed the epigrams for the figures, which remained visible on government buildings for seventeen years.26 21 See Alfred Gell, Art and Agency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). 22 E. H. Gombrich, ‘The Early Medici as Patrons of Art’, in E. F. Jacobs (ed.), Italian Renaissance Studies: A Tribute to the Late Cecilia M. Ady, (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), 279–311 and S. Fermor, ‘Botticelli and the Medici’, in Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.), The Early Medici and their Artists, (London: Birkbeck College, 1995), 169᎑85. 23 The Pucci Adoration of the Magi is described by Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de piu eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi (Florence: Sansoni, 1878–85), Vol. III, 313; the Palazzo Vecchio Adoration by the Anonimo Magliabechiano: Horne, Botticelli, 44–9. On Lorenzo’s control of the Opera del Palazzo, see Hegarty, ‘Laurentian Patronage’, 264–85. On the Del Lama altarpiece, see Hatfield, Botticelli’s Adoration, 70–86. 24 Cecchi, Botticelli, 142. For a summary of the literature on the Uffizi Young Man with Medal, see Bert W. Meijer (ed.), Firenze e gli antichi Paesi Bassi, 1430–1530: dialoghi tra artisti: da Jan van Eyck a Ghirlandaio, da Memling a Raffaello (Livorno: Sillabe, 2008), 176. On a Botticelli portrait of a youth possibly holding a similar medal, see Kieth Christiansen, ‘Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man with a Trecento Medallion’, Burlington Magazine, vol. 129, no. 1017 (November 1987), 744. 25 Horne, Botticelli, 63–4. On pitture infamante, see Samuel Y. Edgerton, Pictures and Punishment: Art and Criminal Prosecution during the Florentine Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985). 26 On Lorenzo, see Hegarty, ‘Laurentian Patronage’, 267; on Botticelli, see Horne, Botticelli, 63–4. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 17
  25. 25. Banking connections were also important. In 1478, the Salutati bank, prob- ably Benedetto Salutati himself, commissioned a tondo of the Virgin and Child from the painter as a gift for Cardinal Gonzaga, his client and his neighbour in Rome (Fig. 4).27 The work is particularly important because the cardinal’s household was a meeting place for Roman humanists, and if the gift reached him, it put an impressive example of Botticelli’s work before a group of discerning men with influence in the highest circles of the Vatican. This could 27 See Dario Covi, ‘A Documented Tondo for Botticelli’, in M Grazia Ciardi Duprè Dal Poggetto and Paolo Dal Poggetto (eds.), Scritti di stori dell’arte in onore di Ugo di Procacci (Milan: Electa, 1977), 270–2. On Cardinal Gonzaga, see David S. Chambers, A Renaissance Cardinal and His Worldly Goods: The Will and Inventory of Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483) (London: Warburg Institute, 1992), 25–6, 48–9, 88. Fig. 4 Sandro Botticelli, Madonna and Child and St John, tempera and oil on panel, 96 cm diameter, Museo Civico, Piacenza (© 1990, Photo SCALA, Florence) 18 Michelle O’Malley
  26. 26. be significant, depending on who was responsible for hiring Botticelli for the Sistine commission. In 1480, the Vespucci commissioned Botticelli to create, with Ghirlandaio, frescoed images of Saints Augustine and Jerome flanking the door to the choir of Ognissanti. By the late 1470s, Botticelli’s reputation was strong with clients in intersect- ing circles of government, banking and neighbourhood, arenas of operation that often also encompassed Medici interests. In addition, numerous of his works were visible publicly, which means that Botticelli’s images were in a position to shape concepts of devotion and ideas of political strength in Florence. By 1481, his name may have been known outside the city; certainly powerful people could recommend him. We might ask, however, why the Vespucci, the great family of the gonfalone and Botticelli’s neighbours, did not hire him before 1480, when his reputation was solid. An answer to that might have to do with the timing of the Botticelli’s career and the Vespucci family’s need for a work of art in the early 1470s. To consider that, it is necessary to turn to Domenico Ghirlandaio. DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO (1449–1494) The agencies that drove Ghirlandaio’s career were probably less cohesive than those that influenced Botticelli’s. However, like Botticelli, Ghirlandaio under- took his first public commission in Florence in the early 1470s. He was hired to create in fresco an altarpiece of the Deposition in the chapel of Amerigo Vespucci, in the church of Ognissanti (Fig. 5). The commission was substan- tial, and it is surprising that the Vespucci did not hire Botticelli, who was on their doorstep, worshipped at the Ognissanti, and was clearly capable of taking on a major work. Certainly loyalties within gonfalone, along with the prestige that Botticelli gained in painting for the Mercanzia, should have led the family to consider their neighbour – to consider him, that is, if he were available at the time of the commission. The exact date of the Vespucci chapel is unknown.28 However, Karl Schle- busch has recently discovered a group of documents that make it clear that the construction of the chapel could not have begun until after November 1473.29 This means that Ghirlandaio could not have begun until months, perhaps not until at least a year, after that date. While exact knowledge of Botticelli’s career in the mid-1470s is hazy, it is likely that he was hired by Guaspare del Lama at just this time – late 1473 or early 1474 – when del Lama was captain of the guild of St Peter Martyr at Santa Maria Novella and thus in a position to 28 See Jean K. Cadogan, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Artist and Artisan (New Haven and London: Yale, 2000) 192–3. 29 Karl Schlebusch, ‘Domenico Ghirlandaio und die Familienkapelle der Vespucci in der Kirche Ognissanti in Florenz’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistoriesches Institut in Florenz, forthcoming 2011. I am extremely grateful to Professor Schlebusch for allowing me to read his text before publication. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 19
  27. 27. negotiate for a private chapel in the church.30 Around the same time, Botti- celli may also have been hired by the Pucci to paint a tondo of the Adoration of the Magi, particularly if the tondo in the National Gallery, London, is the one Vasari noted in the Pucci palace.31 These commissions were prestigious; Botticelli may simply have been too busy to take on the commission for the Vespucci. Of course, neighbourhood, while powerful, provided only one of many networking opportunities in Florence, and Ghirlandaio, not Botticelli, may have been the Vespucci’s first choice. The family may have been attracted to Ghirlandaio for his style, especially his ability to evoke the Netherlandish painting that was so popular among the Florentine banking elite.32 For the composition of the Vespucci Pietà, Ghirlandaio drew directly on several Neth- erlandish and German works of art known to be in Florence by 1470, such as 30 See Hatfield, 1976, 15–16. 31 See Cecchi, 2005, 120. 32 For ownership, see Paula Nuttall, From Flanders to Florence (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004), 121–4. Fig. 5 Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietà, fresco, Church of the Ognissanti, Florence (© 1997. Photo Scala, Florence) 20 Michelle O’Malley
  28. 28. this Lamentation (Fig. 6), and he attempted a particularly Flemish approach to painting Christ and the Virgin.33 This means that the painter had access to the small Netherlandish works that were only able to be viewed in the palazzi of the rich. Perhaps the Vespucci drew on their connections in Arte del Cambio banking circles to make it possible for Ghirlandaio to study these imported pictures, or it may be that Ghirlandaio was known for his interest in them, and the recommendation of the painter went from a banker to Nastagio. In either case, the Vespucci commission put Ghirlandaio’s work into a public and highly visible site in Florence – the chapel was near the main portal of Ognissanti – and it may have had an influence on the painter’s most signifi- 33 Paula Nuttall, ‘Domenico Ghirlandaio and Northern Art’, Apollo cxliii (1996), 17 and Nuttall, From Flanders, 85, 113, 146, 153. Fig. 6 Attributed to Rogier van der Weyden, Transport of Christ to the Tomb, oil on panel, 110 ¥ 96 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence (© 1990, Photo SCALA, Florence – courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Attach. Culturali) Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 21
  29. 29. cant commission of the 1470s: his employment in 1475 to decorate the Library of Pope Sixtus IV at the Vatican.(Fig. 7). Jean Cadogan argues that the com- mission itself suggests that Ghirlandaio had a wide reputation, but the sites of Ghirlandaio’s early work make it unlikely that he was well known outside Florence and its environs, so a different connection probably brought him to the attention of the papal court.34 In this context, it is essential to consider the nature of commissions under Sixtus IV, crowned in 1471. There is a long tradition based on Vasari, the inconsistency of the quality of the works created under Sixtus, and the pope’s background as a Franciscan scholar and reformer, that Sixtus was not inter- ested in the visual arts per se.35 However, as Isabelle Frank has argued, his 34 Cadogan, Ghirlandaio, 45. 35 On the work of Sistine papacy see Ludwig Pastor, The History of the Popes, From the Close of the Middle Ages, Vol. IV (London: Kegan Paul, 1900); Isadora Liberale Gatti, ‘ “Singularis eius inaudita doctrina”: la formazione intellettuale e francescana di Sisto IV e suoi rapporti con gli ambiente culturali’, in Fabio Benzi (ed.), Sisto IV: Le arti a Roma nel primo rinascimento (Rome: Associazione Culturale Shakespeare and Company 2, 2000); Wright, Pollaiuolo, 370. On the inconsistency of work produced under the pontiff, see Eunice D. Howe, Art and Culture at the Sistine Court: Platina’s Life of Sixtus and the Frescoes of the Hospital of Santo Spirito (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2005), 9. Fig. 7 Domenico Ghirlandaio, Classical Philosophers and Doctors of the Church, 1475–76, fresco, Biblioteca Latina, Vatican 22 Michelle O’Malley
  30. 30. distinct ability to recognize and seize opportunity made him appreciate the force art had for shaping his own image and that of the papacy.36 This did not make him a discerning patron, but it did attune him to the power of the visual.37 The evidence suggests that, for Sixtus, clarity and directness of message were the most important features of a work of art.38 While Sixtus probably gave those running his projects clear directions about the subject matter of a proposed work, he is likely to have left decisions about the specifics of images and the choice of artists to his project managers.39 These were men whose expertise lay in areas outside the visual arts, and it seems that that the quality of the artists they chose was in relation to the status of the audience a new work would enjoy.40 The Vatican Library project was run by the renowned humanist Bartolom- meo Platina, appointed Librarian in 1475 and probably the assistant librarian for the previous four years.41 Platina was a key member of the Roman human- ist circle and an intimate of the household of his former pupil, Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga.42 He was also particularly close to the humanists of Flo- rence, where he had studied Greek. Platina kept the project accounts. They demonstrate that he was responsible for all aspects of renovating and outfit- ting the rooms: he organized builders, employed a stained-glass maker, engaged ironworkers, and hired joiners and mosaicists.43 He was clearly responsible for finding and appointing the artisans who worked in the library, and this suggests that he is also likely to have found the Library’s painters. Platina’s Mantuan career shows that he knew that the artists most highly regarded throughout Italy were trained in Florence.44 While he may not have been especially knowledgeable about individual Florentine painters, it happens that in the period in which he would have been searching for appropriate artists to decorate the Library, he was in close contact with 36 Isabelle Frank, Melozzo da Forli and the Rome of Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484) (PhD thesis: Harvard University, 1991), 3, 21–3. See also Egmont Lee, Sixtus IV and Men of Letters (Rome: Edizioni di storia e letturatura, 1978), 41. 37 On Sixtus’ role as a patron see Frank, ‘Melozzo da Forli’, 2–3; Howe, Art and Culture, 10. 38 Most visual works produced for the pope contain inscriptions or longer texts. 39 See Frank, ‘Melozzo da Forli’, 1; Howe, Art and Culture, 9–10. 40 See Frank, ‘Melozzo da Forli’, 33, for this rationale, argued for Sixtus himself. 41 Howe, Art and Culture, 55. On the renovation of the rooms, see Deoclecio Redig de Campos, I Palazzi Vaticani (Bologna: Licinio, 1967), 57–63; Giovanni Morello, ‘La Biblioteca Apostolica’, in Carlo Pietrangeli (ed.), Il Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano (Florence: Nardini, 1992), 197–8; Cadogan, Ghirlandaio, 199. 42 On Platina in Mantua and Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, see Chambers, Renaissance Cardinal, 53; David S. Chambers, ‘Il Platina e il Cardinale Francesco Gonzaga’, in Campana and Paola Medioli Masotti, Bartolomeo Sacchi, il Platina, (Padua: Antenore, 1986) 9–18; Howe, Art and Culture, 41–4. 43 M. Eugene Muntz, Les arts a la cour des papes pendant le XV et le XVI siecle, 5 vols., Vol. III (Paris: Thorin, 1882), 121–35; reprinted in Cadogan, Ghirlandaio, 341–2. 44 Martin Warnke, The Court Artist, trans. David McLintock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 84, argues that Mantuan humanists were competent in artistic matters because of the interests of Vittorio da Feltre; see Emilio Faccioli (ed.), Montova: Le lettere (Mantua: Istituto Carlo d’Arco, 1962), Vol. II, 55 for the letter to Federigo Gonzaga concerning Platina. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 23
  31. 31. Florentine colleagues.45 In 1474, Platina dedicated his text De optimo cive to Lorenzo de’ Medici. Nicolai Rubinstein and Alison Brown have emphasized the fact that the questions, politics and modes of expression of the book are identical to those in the texts of Florentine humanists from the early 1470s; in other words, Platina had been engaged with Florentine humanists on a shared intellectual project.46 Soon after his presentation of the book, Platina received letters praising the work from Lorenzo and from other humanists, including Donato Acciaiuoli and Bartolomeo Scala, the current Chancellor of Flo- rence.47 Later correspondence attests to continuing relations between Platina and Florentine scholars into the 1480s.48 Platina could have drawn on these associations to gain intelligence about painters in Florence who might have been available to work in Rome. Again, there is no evidence of such corre- spondence, but he might easily have learned about Ghirlandaio from, for example, Bartolomeo Scala, who surely knew about the painting of the burial chapel of Amerigo Vespucci, his long-serving colleague in the chancery. A commission from the pope was highly prestigious; it offered Ghirlandaio an immense opportunity for building his reputation and enhancing his career. Ghirlandaio addressed this opportunity by creating an all’antica design for his client’s medieval subject matter, images of philosophers, saints and doctors of the church. While the design is innovative and atmospheric, there are significant problems with the depictions: the perspective is not consistently keyed to a viewer from below and there are differences in scale among the figures. The documents show that Domenico was hired with his brother Davide – the brothers were often employed together for commissions in the 1470s. Partly because of the problems with the figures and partly because all payments after the first instalment were collected by Davide, scholars have generally argued that Domenico largely ‘left’ the murals to be painted by Davide.49 Against this interpretation is the concept, wisely advanced by Ronald Kecks, that Ghirlandaio is unlikely to have ignored the prestige value of a papal commission.50 In fact, the murals have suffered from extensive retouch- ing and repainting, and this makes the attribution of hands difficult, if not 45 Stefan Bauer, The Censorship and Fortuna of Platina’s Lives of the Popes in the Sixteenth Century (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006) 19–21. 46 Nicolai Rubinstein, ‘Il “De optimo cive” del Platina,’ in Campana and Masotti, Bartolomeo Sacchi, 137–44; Nicolai Rubinstein, ‘The De optimo cive and the De Principe by Bartolomeo Platina’, in Roberto Cardini, et al. (eds.), Tradizione classica e letteratura umanistica per Alessandro Perosa (Rome: Bulzoni, 1985); Alison Brown, ‘Scala, Platina and Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1474’, in Supplementum Festiuum: Studies in Honour of Paul Oskar Kristeller (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1987), 328. 47 Rubinstein, ‘De optimo’. 48 Bauer, Censorship, 20. 49 Domenico was paid in November 1475 for work already begun; all other account entries, which appear until May 1476, record payment to Davide. However, as payment was commonly picked up by workshop members, this alone would not indicate the absence of Domenico; see, for example, Wright, Pollaiuolo, 215. On the brothers and the workshop, see Cadogan, Ghirladaio, 153, 170. 50 See Kecks, Ghirlandaio, 74. 24 Michelle O’Malley
  32. 32. impossible.51 However, it is clear from the payment documents from the Passignano commission, begun just after the Library, that it was the brothers’ practice to work collaboratively, with Domenico painting the most important parts.52 While problems of management can explain the inconsistencies of scale – problems that relate to Ghirlandaio’s relative inexperience as a work- shop manager – it is important to recognize that the murals did not offend Platina or Sixtus, who clearly accepted the work. Only six weeks after the Vatican job ended, the brothers began the fresco of the Last Supper at the Vallombrosan convent at Passignano, just south of Florence, and this suggests that the commission was negotiated while Ghirlan- daio was engaged in Rome. The convent was particularly rich and important; its value is underlined by the fact that, in 1485, Lorenzo de’ Medici took it by force as a benefice for his son Giovanni, the young prelate.53 The brothers were hired by the convent’s abbot, Don Isadoro del Sera, a well-connected Florentine with associates in the world of banking, politics and humanism.54 He might have learned of Ghirlandaio’s papal commission through one of these channels. The commission suggests that the prestige of the Vatican had an immediate impact on the brothers’ career. Later commissions suggest that Ghirlandaio’s reputation was healthy and that he increasingly painted for clients in the orbit of the Medici. According to Vasari, he worked in 1477 for Giovanni Tornabuoni, the Medici bank manager in Rome.55 In Florence, in 1478, Ghirlandaio was engaged by Francesco Sassetti, assistant manager of the Medici bank, and by the Confraternity of the Buonomini, which was largely funded and directed by Lorenzo.56 In 1480, Ghirlandaio was hired by the friars of the Umiliati at Ognissanti; he was also again employed by the Vespucci at Ognissanti, this time to create the figure of St Jerome while Botticelli pro- duced St Augustine. Evidence of his standing in Florence is also indicated by the fresco and altarpiece commissions he received in 1478–79 in Pisa. Pisa was under the dominion of Florence, and he was hired by the cathedral’s single 51 On the condition of the murals, see Redig de Campos, Palazzi Vaticani, 57–63; Morello, ‘La Biblioteca Apostolica’, 197–202, Joséx Ruysschaert, ‘Platina e l’aménagement des locaux de la Vaticane sous Sixte IV (1471-1475-1481)’, in Campana and Medioli Masotti, Il Platina, 145–151; Guido Cornini, ‘ “Dominico Thomasii florentino pro pictura bibliothecae quam inchoavit”: il contributo di Domenico e Davide Ghirlandaio nella Biblioteca di Sisto IV’, in Benzi, Sisto IV. On the figures’ scale, see Ronald G Kecks, Domenico Ghirlandaio (Florence: Quattrone, 1998), 74; Kecks, Ghirlandaio und die malerei, 199–203. 52 Cadogan, Ghirlandaio, 202–03; doc 11, 342–3. 53 Picotti, La giovinezza del futuro Leone X (Milan: Hoepli, 1928), 88. 54 Del Sera and Bartolomeo Scala were godfathers to the banker Bernardo Ranieri’s daughter; see Alison Brown, Bartolomeo Scala, 1430–1497, Chancellor of Florence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 111–12. 55 Vasari, Le vite de piu eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, Vol. III, 259–60. 56 On Sassetti, see Cadogan, Ghirlandaio, 230–36; Eve Borsook and J. Offerhaus, Francesco Sassetti and Ghirlan- daio at Santa Trinità, Florence (Doornspijk: Davaco, 1981). On the Buonomini, see Tommaso Rosselli Sassatelli del Turco, ‘La chiesetta di San Martino dei Buonomini a Firenze’, Dedalo, viii (1928); Amleto Spicciani, ‘The “Poveri vergognosi” in 15th century Florence’, in Thomas Riis (ed.), Aspects of Poverty in Early Modern Europe (Alphen aan den Rijn: Sijthoff, 1981); Dale Kent, ‘The Buonomini di San Martini: Charity “for the glory of God, the honour of the city, and the commemoration of myself” ’, in Francis Ames Lewis (ed.), Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, 1389–1464 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 49–67. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 25
  33. 33. operaio, who was appointed by the Florentine Signoria and answered to Arch- bishop Filippo de’ Medici, a distant relative of Lorenzo and clearly supported by the more important branch of the family.57 As this précis suggests, while Botticelli shot to fame, Ghirlandaio’s career was a slow but steady build-up of influence and connections, surely helped by the Vatican commission but also aided by the importance of the sites and patrons of his paintings. PIETRO PERUGINO (c.1445–1523) Like Ghirlandaio, Perugino received a significant commission from the Vatican relatively early in his career, in this case, after establishing himself in Perugia and working about six years in the city and its surrounds.58 It seems that Perugino’s command of the most up-to-date technique of his trade – particularly painting in oil – gained him immediate attention in Perugia, but the sites of his early altarpieces and frescoes suggest he had only a local reputation.59 Thus there must have been a particular human connection that brought Perugino to the attention of the papal court, where, in 1478 or early 1479, he was hired to fresco the apse of the chapel that Sixtus IV built as his own burial place in St Peter’s.60 This, called the chapel of the canons’ choir, was dedicated in December 1479. Perugino must have been brought to Rome specifically for the work, because in 1478 he was clearly painting the datable, but now fragmentary, fresco cycle that survives in Cerqueto, a tiny town just south of Perugia. The Perugino story has two main questions: who oversaw the chapel project and how was Perugino chosen? While there are no records for the chapel like those for the Library, it is probable that the project manager was Giovannino de’ Dolci, the Florentine master woodworker who was the overseer of works in the Apostolic Palace throughout Sixtus’ papacy.61 His responsibility for the burial chapel’s decoration seems especially likely because he managed the decoration of the Sistine chapel, begun only two years after the burial chapel was dedicated.62 At the Sistine, Giovannino signed the contract with the paint- ers; he was responsible for judging the value of their work and he disbursed 57 Michele Luzzatini, ‘Filippo de’ Medici Arcivescovo di Pisa e la vista pastorale del 1462–1463’, Bolletino storico pisani, xxxiii–xxxv (1964–66). 58 Jeryldene M. Wood, ‘The Early Paintings of Perugino’ (PhD thesis, Virginia, 1985); Pietro Scarpellini, Perugino (Milan: Electa Editrice, 1984), 18–28. 59 See Pietro Scarpellini and Maria Rita Silvestrelli, Pintoricchio (Milan: Federico Motta, 2004), 72–3 for Perugino’s influence in the area. 60 See L. D. Ettlinger, ‘Pollaiuolo’s Tomb of Pope Sixtus IV’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 16 (1953), 269; Wright, Pollaiuolo, 374–6. 61 Stefano Borsi, Francesco Quinterio, and Corinna Vasic Vatovec, Maestri fiorentini nei cantieri romani del quattrocento (Rome: Officina, 1989), 199–212. 62 For the contract, see Arnold Nesselrath, ‘The Painters of Lorenzo the Magnificent in the Chapel of Pope Sixtus IV in Rome’, in Francesco Buranelli and Allen Duston (eds.), The Fifteenth-Century Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel (Vatican City: Musei Vaticani, 2003) 39–75. 26 Michelle O’Malley
  34. 34. project funds. He may have had the same responsibilities, which are similar to those of Platina in the Library, for the burial chapel. Furthermore, because Giovannino, as the head of large building projects throughout the Papal States, was responsible for hiring workers, it may have been his job to find a painter for the chapel of the cannons’ choir.63 A major problem in this regard was that between April 1478 and January 1480/81, the Pazzi War effectively closed off the possibility of hiring a Floren- tine. Florentine artists were recognized in the Vatican as pre-eminent in Italy in all fields; for example, in 1477, the year before the attack, the Vatican had gone to the trouble of getting Antonio Pollaiuolo released from a prestigious Florentine embroidery project so he could take on similar papal work.64 But with Florence effectively closed, drawing on the Vatican’s networks within the Papal States may have been the most efficient way to locate a painter of excellence. Here, the useful link may have been one of the governors of Perugia who, in the 1470s, were men with humanist connections. If this were the route taken to Perugino, it may be that Platina was part of the process. Platina not only oversaw the Library decoration, but was also, as Eunice Howe notes, ‘the driving force behind’ the fresco cycle of the Hospital of Santo Spirito, which Sixtus built and decorated in the mid-1470s.65 We know that Giovannino knew Platina; he worked with him on aspects of fitting out the Library, and he might have turned to the Librarian for assistance in finding a painter. Two governors of Perugia, one of the key cities of the Papal States, were in a position to recommend Perugino. The first, Niccolò Perotti, was governor from 1474 to 1477, the period when Perugino worked in the Signo- ria’s palace and created at least two altarpieces for local families. Perotti was one of the most able and prolific scholars in Sixtus’ service and he maintained an active network of scholarship with colleagues in Rome.66 He knew Platina well and he retired locally; he could have passed Perugino’s name to Rome. Alternatively, Cardinal Raffaele Sansoni-Riario, Sixtus’ nephew who became governor in June 1478, could have been the conduit through which the Vatican learned of the talented Umbrian painter. The cardinal later built the Cancelleria; he was particularly attuned to the nuances of art, and, as the most scholarly of the pope’s nephews, was in contact with the humanists.67 This proposal is extremely hypothetical; probably the precise agency that brought Perugino to Rome will never be known. Once at St Peter’s, however, Perugino proved a sage choice. He was certainly aware of the concerns at stake 63 He oversaw the building of the forts at Civitavecchia, Ronciglione and Tivoli, as well the construction of the cappella maggiore that became the Sistine chapel; Borsi, Maestri fiorentini. 64 See Wright, Pollaiuolo, 257–64; Rosalia Varoli-Piazza (ed.), Il Paliotto di Sisto IV ad Assisi (Assisi: Casa Editrice Francescana, 1991). 65 Howe, Art and Culture, 78. 66 See Lee, Sixtus IV, 87–90. 67 See Christoph Luitpold Frommel, ‘Il Cardinal Raffaele Riario ed il Palazzo della Cancelleria’, in Silvia Bottoro, Anna Dagnino, and Giovanna Rotondi Terminiello (eds.), Sisto IV e Giulio II mecanti e promotori di cultura (Savona: Coop Tipograf, 1989). Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 27
  35. 35. in decorating the chapel that was designed to be a memorial for Sixtus, and he clearly seized the opportunity to create a work of distinction – now known only through Giacomo Grimaldi’s seventeenth-century sketch (Fig. 8).68 Perugino emphasized the pope’s commitment to restoring Rome’s purity by drawing on early Christian precedents for his iconography.69 At the same time, he under- lined the pope’s lineage from St Peter and boldly portrayed Sixtus on the same scale as his sacred benefactors. The fresco broadcast the image Sixtus sought to convey through his patronage elsewhere and the pope must have made his approval known: Perugino would use exactly the same iconography for the pope’s portrait on the altar of the Sistine chapel (Fig. 9). Indeed, the kneeling portrait became a model for the depiction of subsequent popes and 68 Reto Niggl, Giacomo Grimaldi, Descrizione della basilica antica di S. Pietro in Vaticano: Codice Barberini Latino 2733 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostoloca Vaticana, 1972) 163. 69 Ettlinger, Pollaiuolo’s Tomb. Fig. 8 Depiction of Grimaldi’s sketch of Pietro Perugino’s lost fresco in the apse of the Chapel of the Canons Choir, Basilica of St Peter, Rome, after Fiorenzo Canuti 28 Michelle O’Malley
  36. 36. cardinals.70 For Perugino, the work had another type of agency. It established some of his most characteristic imagery, which became the bedrock of his reputation. THE SISTINE COMMISSION The foregoing discussion argues that relationships were crucial, both for bringing works of art into existence and for defining painters’ careers. The 70 See Patrizia Zambrano and Jonathan Katz Nelson, Filippino Lippi (Milano: Electa, 2004), 457–8. Fig. 9 Workshop of Pinturicchio, Assumption of the Virgin (after Perugino, altar wall, Sistine Chapel), 1481–83, metal point and ink, 13.8 ¥ 11.4 cm, Albertina Graphische Sammlung, Vienna (© Albertina Graphische Sammlung, Vienna) Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 29
  37. 37. development of a painter is commonly seen in relation to the stylistic evolution of his works, and this is perceived as unrelated to his clients. However, painters could not effect stylistic development without commissions, and these were founded within the context of the rich social exchange that characterizes human interaction in the Renaissance, particularly business interaction. Fifteenth-century Italians drew on a wide body of relationships as a way to get on in all aspects of life.71 For artists, such associations not only generated careers, they had an impact on accessibility, visuality and style. It is arguable, for example, that Ghirlandaio’s frescoes for the Vespucci were more Netherlandish than his other works of the 1470s, and this could have been in response to the family’s taste, developed through their connections to bankers who owned Flemish painting. Certainly the look of Perugino’s apse fresco was inspired by the Sistine papacy’s interest in early Christian monuments. The commission to paint the walls of the Sistine chapel, awarded in 1481, had agency in the future careers of Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino. It was also vital for Cosimo Rosselli (1439–1507), a Florentine painter with longer experience than these men and the fourth member of the Sistine team. It is not clear, however, exactly how the four painters secured the commission. Did their associations in Rome lead to further employment there, or were they helped to the Vatican by Lorenzo de’ Medici in the negotiations following the Pazzi War, as Herbert Horne first suggested?72 Exploring the relationships that led to the commission is critical, precisely because of its importance to the artists’ reputations and subsequent professional lives. Certainly Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino each had friends and asso- ciates in both Rome and Florence that could have recommended them for the Sistine commission. By 1481, Ghirlandaio and Perugino were established names in Rome, and the tondo given to Cardinal Gonzaga in 1477 was a potential conduit, if it arrived, for the appreciation of Botticelli’s work by those who influenced Vatican visual arts. In addition, Botticelli was known as one of Lorenzo’s most admired artists.73 The implication is that the Vatican could have employed these painters directly, without the aid of Lorenzo, in the same way the papacy hired Florentines for all types of artistic projects. In 1477, for example, the Vatican had gone to the trouble of getting two master embroiderers and probably Antonio Pollaiuolo, as designer, released from a prestigious Florentine embroidery project so they could undertake similar work on a paliotto Sixtus was donating to Assisi.74 One support for the case for direct hiring for the Sistine is the situation of Perugino, who is commonly believed to have been employed to begin the project soon after he finished 71 See particularly McLean, Art of the Network ; Kent, Lorenzo, 55. 72 Horne, Botticelli, 74–5. 73 See note 22. 74 Rosalia Varoli-Piazza (ed.), Il Paliotto di Sisto IV ad Assisi (Assisi: Casa Editrice Francescana, 1991) 10, 29–48; Wright, Pollaiuolo, 257–64. 30 Michelle O’Malley
  38. 38. Sixtus’ burial chapel.75 Furthermore, engaging numerous masters and their workshops to collaborate was a manner of attacking a large decorating project with which Sixtus, Platina and other northern Italians were familiar. It was not a Florentine approach. Indeed, when Horne posited Lorenzo’s agency, he suggested that Lorenzo had a hand in ‘obtaining’ Florentine painters for the pontiff, which suggests that Sixtus sought them. More recent scholarship, however, has drawn on Medici precedent and Lorenzo’s later recommenda- tion and provision of artists to make a case for Lorenzo’s actively nominating the painters for cultural diplomacy.76 Certainly, in 1481, Lorenzo knew Ghirlandaio’s work and he was clearly well acquainted with Botticelli. Further- more, the work of the painters for the Vespucci in 1480 may have made them seem like natural collaborators. Given the connections between these painters and powerful people in Florence and Rome, Cosimo Rosselli may offer a key to the Sistine conun- drum. Lorenzo was almost certainly familiar with Rosselli’s work, but one of the problems with the idea of Lorenzo supporting Rosselli is the nature of his painting, often traditional in format and wooden in execution.77 It seems unlikely to have appealed to Lorenzo, committed to the highest standards of excellence.78 It is possible that backing Rosselli, whose major clientele was found in artisan confraternities, was useful to Lorenzo, who from the early 1470s was actively engaged in infiltrating religious sodalities and influencing their governance to assure that they supported the Medici.79 However, such political analysis is not consistent with events of 1482, when the artists returned to Florence. Arguments for Lorenzo’s involvement with the Sistine team often refer to the fact that, at the completion of the project, the Operà of the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio, unquestionably directed by Lorenzo, immediately hired the Sistine artists to decorate the newly created Sala dei Gigli.80 However, only Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and Perugino, along with Biagio Tucci and Piero Pollaiuolo, were employed. Cosimo Rosselli was ignored. He 75 Nesselrath, ‘The Painters of Lorenzo’, 51, argues against this. 76 Ibid., 40; Caroline Elam, ‘Art and Diplomacy in Renaissance Florence’, Royal Society of Art Journal, 136 (1988), 814–17. 77 Rosselli’s brother worked for Lorenzo’s father. Rosselli’s 1478 altarpiece for a company of wool carders may have brought him particularly to the attention of Lorenzo, who oversaw the wool guild; see Anna Padoa Rizzo, ‘Cosimo e Bernardo Rosselli per la Compagnia di Sant’Andrea dei Purgatori a Firenze’, Studi di storia dell’arte, 2 (1991) 61–73 and Kent, Lorenzo, 6. On Rosselli’s style, see Padoa Rizzo, ‘Cosimo e Bernardo’, 265; Edith Gabrielli, Cosimo Rosselli, catalogo regionato, (Turin: Allemandi, 2007) 41–42. 78 Kent, Lorenzo, 61; for training in judgement, see ibid., 21–23. 79 On Medici infiltration of confraternities, see Lorenzo Polizzotto, ‘The Medici and the Youth Confraternity of the Purification of the Virgin’, in Nicholas Terpstra (ed.), The Politics and Ritual of Kinship: Confraternities and Social Order in Early Modern Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Konrad Eisenbickler, ‘Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Confraternity of the Blacks’, Fedes et historia, xxv, (1994) 85–98; Eckstein, The District of the Green Dragon, xxv and 209; Zambrano and Nelson, Filippino Lippi, 188. On Rosselli’s career see Gabrielli, Rosselli, 28–34; Anna Padoa Rizzo, ‘Cosimo and Bernardo Rosselli’s work for Lay Confraternities’, in Arthur R Blumen- thal (ed.), Cosimo Rosselli: Painter of the Sistine Chapel, (Winter Park, FL: Rollins College, 2001) 61–73. 80 Hegarty, ‘Laurentian Patronage’; Nesselrath, ‘Painters of Lorenzo’, 40; Elam, ‘Art and Diplomacy’, 818. Painting and the making of careers in Renaissance Italy 31
  39. 39. was not even employed when a substitute was required to replace Perugino. This militates against Lorenzo’s sponsorship of Rosselli, for any reason. The case for the Vatican’s directly hiring Rosselli has more potential. Ros- selli worked in Rome from 1456 to 1459, and this may seem like a fruitful link to the city, but the painter almost certainly worked as an assistant and so is unlikely to have acquired a reputation then.81 He could, however, have been well served in 1481 by his reputation among the artisan community in Flo- rence, for the man in charge of the Sistine project was Sixtus’ overseer, the Florentine Giovannino de’ Dolci. Dolci, as a master woodworker, could easily have obtained information about painters from his associates within the city. This is promising, and lends support to an argument that each of the painters was contacted by the papacy directly. After the Sistine, Rosselli’s career continued to prosper. Although his work was in demand, however, he was rarely hired by patrons in the Medici circle or in the major Florentine convents, who often employed Perugino, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. Instead, Rosselli’s clients remained largely among the non- banking elite and members of the artisan community. The Sistine commis- sion, however, confirmed and consolidated throughout Italy the reputations of Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino. From 1482, the prestige of their clients grew and the demand for their work was significant. Each man was clearly a formidable talent, and this was a factor in the development of his professional life. How much of a factor talent was, however, is an unknown quantity. As the career trajectories of Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Rosselli indicate, patronage could be related as much to relationships and social interests as to admiration for skill. Indeed, personal associations, social demands and innate talent worked together to create the reputations that led to lasting fame. 81 See Gabrielli, Rosselli, 24–8; the Roman projects are unknown today. 32 Michelle O’Malley
  40. 40. 2 Set in stone: monumental altar frames in Renaissance Florence Meghan Callahan & Donal Cooper The large Renaissance columned arch acquired by the V&A in 1864 eludes easy classification (Fig. 1).1 It is monumental in scale and employs the latest innovations in Quattrocento all’antica architecture. The beautiful marble carv- ings mark the object as the product of a leading Florentine sculpture work- shop. But it was a frame rather than an independent piece of sculpture and its lavish ornament was probably designed to complement a sizeable painted panel altarpiece. While Renaissance picture frames have come to be studied in their own right over the past twenty years, scholarly interest has been directed almost exclusively at gilt-wood examples.2 As a category, masonry frames from Renaissance Italy remain under-researched, a deficit that is aggravated by the fact that very few early ensembles of painted altarpieces and stone frames remain in situ and undisturbed.rest_633 33..55 This chapter aims to establish an historical context for the V&A altar frame, to explain its remarkable design, and to account for its imposing scale. It is an example of a distinct genre of altar frame that emerged in Florence and its environs in the late fifteenth century. This type combined a rectangular pictorial field (or tavola quadrata) with an arched lunette above and fulfilled a need to create impressive architectural superstructures for altars and altar- pieces within otherwise simple church interiors. Its development was facili- tated by the close collaboration between artists working in different media, and many of the examples that are considered here combined painted panels with ornate stone frames and tin-glazed terracotta reliefs. The popularity of these arched frames was relatively short-lived, and fashions had already moved The research for this chapter was funded for Donal Cooper by the Leverhulme Trust through a Philip Leverhulme Prize, and for Meghan Callahan by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Curatorial Fellowship (Post- doctoral). We wish to thank Alison Brown, Paul Davies, Francesca Klein, Amanda Lillie, Alison Luchs, Peta Motture, Michelle O’Malley Antonio Pagliai, Brenda Preyer and Sharon Strocchia for their generous help and advice during our research on Santa Chiara and other Florentine churches. 1 The present literature on V&A 548-1864 is limited to John Pope-Hennessy, assisted by Ronald Lightbown, Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 3 vols. (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1964), Vol. 1 (Text: Eighth to Fifteenth Century), 187–88 (No. 167); Vol. 3 (Plates), 133, Fig. 176. 2 Timothy J. Newbery, George Bisacca, and Laurence B. Kanter, Italian Renaissance Frames (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990); Franco Sabatelli (ed.), La cornice italiana dal Rinascimento al Neoclassico (Milan: Electa, 1992). Re-thinking Renaissance Objects, First Edition. Edited by Peta Motture and Michelle O’Malley. Chapters © 2011 The Authors. Book compilation © 2011 Renaissance Studies/Blackwell Publising Ltd. Published 2011 by Blackwell Publising Ltd.

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