Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Pinacoteca Vaticana
Building built in 1932 and designed by Luca Beltrami (1854/1933) for Pius XI Ratti (1922/39), specifically to house the Vatican collection of paintings, mostly with sacred subjects, which now includes about 430 works
The collection was put together since 1770. From 1790 it was exposed in the current Tapestry Gallery at the behest of Pius VI Braschi (1775/99). Many paintings were stolen and taken to France by Napoleon in 1797
The French stole all together 506 works of art. 249 were given back in 1816 including 77 paintings, the sculptures of the Laocoon and the Apollo and Torso of the Belvedere, thanks to the efforts of Antonio Canova
The paintings were placed, in different stages, also in the Borgia Apartment in five rooms set up in 1819 by Raffaele Stern (1774/1820), in the Sala Bologna and adjacent rooms on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace, and finally in the ground floor of the Corridor of Pius IV in the Vatican Library with entrance from the side of the gardens
In the Vestibule "Bust of Pope Pius XI" patron of the Picture Gallery by Enrico Quattrini (1863/1950)
Italian painting from the twelfth to the fifteenth century
"All the paintings in Room I provide a comprehensive overview of the transition from the ways of abstracting late Byzantine tradition, common until the second half of the thirteenth century, to the new fourteenth century language, focusing on overcoming the symbolic component and the reinstatement of the natural vision as the basis of visual experience" (Guido Cornini)
"Processional Cross" about 1260/70 by an unknown artist of the Umbrian school
"Table with Blessing Christ" about 1150 by an unknown artist of the Roman school, with an image pattern typical of Byzantine art from the Monastery of S. Maria della Concezione in Campo Marzio
"Last Judgement" with "Christ Pantocrator, Christ the Priest, Allegory of Earth and Sea, Hell and Heavenly Jerusalem with the patron Abbess Constance and her partner Benedetta" of the end of 1100s by Giovanni and Nicolò
It also comes from the Monastery of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in the Campus Martius, it was maybe originally placed on the counter façade of the Oratory of S. Gregory Nazianzen and later kept until 1934 in S. Luigi dei Francesi (St. Louis of France). It is interesting to detect a legacy almost Hellenistic present in the embodiments of Earth riding a bull and Sea riding a sea monster as a Nereid
Tablet "St. Francis of Assisi" about 1270/80 signed by Margheritone d'Arezzo from S. Francesco a Ripa
"St. Francis of Assisi and four post-mortem miracles" about 1260/70 by artist of the school of Giunta Pisano
"The central icon solemn composure, conducted in accordance with strict frontality and symmetry, gives way to the development of lively perspective solutions, anticipating the Expressionist change of the late thirteenth century language" (Guido Cornini)
Eight tablets with "Stories of St. Stephen" about 1345 by Bernardo Daddi
Four tablets with "Stories of Mary" first half of 1400 of the Sienese school
"Polyptych Madonna and Child, and Sts. Onuphrius, Nicholas, Bartholomew and John the Evangelist" 1371 by Giovanni Bonsi from the church of S. Miniato in Florence
"Trinity with Sts. Francis of Assisi, Mary Magdalene, a saint deacon and a saint prophet" by an unknown artist of the school of Niccolò di Pietro Gerini
"Two sections of an altarpiece with St. Paula and St. Eustace" about 1390/1420 by the Master of the Strauss Madonna
"Virgin of the Apocalypse with Saints and Angels" about 1355/60 by Giovanni del Biondo
Two compartments of a polyptych with "St. James the Greater" and "Mary Magdalene" about 1368/88 Antonio Veneziano. They anticipate the expression of the late Gothic rich delicacies and minutiae
Processional banner with "Madonna of the Beaten" about 1340 by Vitale degli Equi aka Vitale da Bologna (1309/59) from the church of the Hospital of the Battuti Bianchi (Beaten White) in Ferrara
"The experience of Vitale da Bologna is bound by a context of expression deeply rooted in the tradition of miniature of the Po Valley. In his extensive education flow back the multiple components of the cultural background of Emilia. His splendid Madonna of the Beaten is remarkable for purity of line and refinement of chiaroscuro structure" (Guido Cornini)
"Funeral of St. Francis of Assisi" by thePseudo Jacopino about 1330
"Triptych with Madonna enthroned between St. Michael and St. Ursula" 1365 by Allegretto Nuzi (1315/73) from the church of S. Lucia in Fabriano
"Altarpiece of the Madonna of Humility" about 1350/55 by Francescuccio Ghissi student of Allegretto Nuzi
"Crucifixion" about 1330 maybe by Pietro da Rimini
Giotto and his influence
"Triptych Stefaneschi" about 1320 by Giotto (about 1267/1337) and assistants for the Cardinal Jacopo Gaetano Stefaneschi. Originally this Triptych was located on the altar of the Basilica of St. Peter:
in the front SIDE at the center St. Peter enthroned between angels, saints and patrons making offers: the patron, presented by St. George, and Pope Celestine V (1294), in a monk's habit and presented by St. Sylvester, offering to Peter the model of the triptych and a manuscript
In the side panels on the left Sts. James and Paul, on the right Andrew and John the Evangelist
In the predella (dais), in the only surviving panel St. Stephen and two saints
IN THE BACK SIDE at the center Christ enthroned with angels and the patron at his feet, identifiable with Stefaneschi himself
In the side panels:
Crucifixion of St. Peter between the Pyramid of Cestius (Meta Remi) and the now destroyed Meta Romuli. In the Middle Ages the indication inter duas metas for the site of the crucifixion of St. Peter was interpreted as the site midway between the two pyramids of Rome, i.e. S. Pietro in Montorio
Beheading of St. Paul with S. Plautilla receiving a bandage inflated with air, almost like a parachute, dropped from St. Paul as he was taken to heaven by angels
The three compartments of the predella (dais) depict the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Angels, St. Peter and St. James at the center plus five apostles on each side
"The paintings of Giotto elicited in contemporaries a more intense impression of similarity with true reality than not reality itself! Today's current notions of anatomy have very much developed: in the human figure, we expect greater articulation and fluency. To put it briefly, today we see much less naively than the contemporaries of Giotto, and his paintings wouldn't appear to us more alive than reality. Nevertheless, we feel them intensely real, as they powerfully excite our tactile imagination, and, like all things that with their visual presence stimulate our sense of touch, convince us of the reality of their existence. Which is the only condition by which an object painted may begin to give us a genuinely artistic pleasure: that is, separated from its interest as a symbol" (Bernard Berenson)
"Madonna and Child enthroned between female saints and Annunciation, called Regina Virginum" about 1330 by Puccio Capanna
"Dossal with five stories of the Passion" about 1320/30 maybe by the Master of the Crucifix of Trevi
"Madonna with Child" about 1320 by Jacopo del Casentino
"Christ before Pilate" about 1335, "St. John the Baptist" and "St. Peter" about 1329 by Pietro Lorenzetti (about 1280/1348)
"If the work of Simone Martini is at the origins of a trend aimed at the accentuation of the profane components of the world of 'Court Gothic style' inspiration, the work of Pietro Lorenzetti aims, with the representation of an everyday life more subdued, at the construction of an independent language, where the linear rhythms of the Byzantine tradition coexist with the more vigorous plasticity borrowed from the painting of Giotto and his followers" (Guido Cornini)
Cyma (highest section) of an altarpiece with "Redeemer blessing" about 1315/20 by Simone Martini (about 1284/1344)
"The particular tension and synthesis between secular world and religious belief is the basis of his entire production, in a language which, starting from the lesson of Duccio, reprocessed originally ideas that came from the works by Giovanni Pisano and from the refined works of gold and enamel from North of the Alps. He also reprocessed Giotto's new space and the experience of the Lorenzettis, and that in turn became important in the formation of the international Gothic style" (Enciclopedia Treccani)
"Madonna of the Magnificat" about 1335/37 by Bernardo Daddi (about 1290/1348)
Two panels of the predella of a disappeared altarpiece "Death" and "Resurrection of the Virgin" about 1410 by Taddeo di Bartolo (about 1362/1422)
"Nativity" about 1440, "Annunciation" 1445 and two panels with stories of the Passion: "Lamentation for the Death of Jesus" and "Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane" about 1440/45 Giovanni di Paolo (about 1400/82)
Four tablets with Stories of St. Nicholas of Bari:
"Birth of St. Nicholas", "Miracle of the three children killed by the host and put in a barrel to salt", "Gift of three golden balls to three poor girls" and "Ship rescued from the sinking", 1425 by Gentile di Niccolò aka Gentile da Fabriano (about 1370/1427) from the Quaratesi Polyptych of the Church of St. Nicholas Oltrarno in Florence now divided between London, New York, Florence and Rome
"The revolution of the renovators had already made great steps and it had already appeared in their ranks the heroic, unsettling figure of Masaccio. Gentile attempts to show that he does not need to renounce to his poetry to address the crucial issues of monumental or perspective vision. He attempts to compromise siding with moderates like Ghiberti. He applies the new rules of perspective to the predella, but it is a tactical approach rather than a conversion" (Giulio Carlo Argan)
"Annunciation" about 1425 by an unknown artist of the workshop of Gentile da Fabriano
"Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas" about 1423/26 and "Madonna of Humility" about 1435 by Stefano di Giovanni aka Sassetta (about 1400/50) from Siena
"The ascetic vocation of Sienese painting is expressed in the poetic introspection of the Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas where the metaphysical space of prayer is measured by the geometric rigor of the slender arches" (Guido Cornini)
"Four Stories of St. Peter Martyr" about 1440
"St. Benedict" about 1460
Four tablets with "Stories of the Virgin" ("Presentation", "Marriage", "Flight into Egypt", "Nativity") belonging to two different polyptychs about 1450 by Sano di Pietro, a student of Sassetta
"Flagellation of Christ" about 1435 by the Maestro dell'Osservanza from Siena
Six tablets with "Works of Mercy" 1404 by Olivuccio di Ciccarello from the Marche region
"St. Anthony meets the hermit Paul" about 1400/10 and "Stories of St. Benedict" about 1410/15 by Pietro di Giovanni aka Lorenzo Monaco (about 1370/1424)
"In contrast to the glittering naturalism of Gentile da Fabriano, the meditative paintings by Lorenzo Monaco introduce in the common late-Gothic fashion a note of unexpected mysticism. In essence, the artist merely accentuate, in the poetics of his time, 'the spiritualistic element more than the naturalistic one', the concern for the transcendent more than for the immanent: 'he replaces adorned beauty with simple beauty, troubadour songs with mystical praises, but the rhythm does not change'" (Guido Cornini - Giulio Carlo Argan)
"Circumcision of Jesus" and "Mystic Marriage of St. Francis with Poverty" about 1425 by Ottaviano Nelli (1375/1444) from Gubbio
Two compartments of a triptych with "Sts. Anthony Abbot and John the Baptist" and "Sts. Mary Magdalene and Julian Hospitaller" about 1430 by Cola a pupil of Ottaviano Nelli from Gubbio
Beginning of the fifteenth century in Florence
"At the beginning of the fifteenth century it came to be accomplished, in Florence, a transformation of thinking, ways, and function of art as radical as the one that took place a century earlier with Giotto. In the unfolding of a new vision of Nature and History, art changed from an eminently practical, or collective activity to a mental or subjective one. This was the result of an intellectual growth (...) which found in Masaccio its application and in Leon Battista Alberti its first utterance" (Guido Cornini)
Large polyptych "Coronation of Mary" with angels, two monks and devotees about 1444 by Filippo Lippi (about 1406/69). It was originally a single altarpiece divided later into compartments
"The Carmelite Filippo Lippi was formed on the examples of Masaccio and Fra Angelico, but he was also strongly influenced by his knowledge of Flemish painting" (Guido Cornini)
Two panels with "Stories of St. Victorinus" by Pietro di Giovanni d'Ambrogio (1410/49) from Siena
"Crucifixion" and "Death of the Virgin" about 1428/31 by Masolino da Panicale (about 1383/1440) maybe elements of the dismembered triptych of the Madonna of the Snow from the Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore executed in collaboration with Masaccio
Two compartments of a predella with "Stories of St. Nicholas of Bari":
"Meeting with the imperial envoy, saving a load of grain for the city of Myra and saving from a ship wreck" 1447/49 by Fra' Giovanni da Fiesole aka Fra Angelico (about 1395/1455) from the predella of the Guidalotti altarpiece formerly in the church of S. Domenico in Perugia, and now in the National Gallery of Umbria still in Perugia
"In the panel with the Stigmata of St. Francis the identification of color with space and light is absolute, whereas the panel with Madonna and Child with Saints still proves, in the radiance of the mix of color, a harmony of style and technique with the Florentine miniaturist tradition" (Guido Cornini)
"They are three distinct episodes, however, that are fused together by a fundamental element, the linear perspective, the rational perspective. (...) The rational perspective is drawn based on very precise scientific laws, as the perspective of paintings and frescoes of the fourteenth century is intuitive. (...) In Fra' Angelico was a focal point set toward which all lines converge. He adopted a scientific perspective, the same that had been designed, coded and implemented by the man who is certainly the father of the Italian Renaissance, Filippo Brunelleschi. (...) It is an extraordinary picture for the care of execution. I wish it would be noticed, for example, just how the spatial depth is underlined by the small roof which covers the door of the house where the three girls are sleeping and above again by the barrel which is supported by iron poles (...). In short, everything is seen as a function of spatial depth and dimensionality, i.e. the perspective, which is the greatest invention of the Florentine Renaissance" ( Federico Zeri)
Small triptych "Virgin and Child enthroned with four sacred scenes" by the school of Fra Angelico
"Madonna and St. Anna" about 1490 by Lorenzo d'Alessandro from S. Severino in the Marche region
"Adoration of the Magi" about 1477 by Ludovico Urbani from S. Severino as well
"Madonna gives her girdle to St. Thomas" and predella with "Stories of the Virgin" about 1450/52 by Benozzo di Lese aka Benozzo Gozzoli (1420/97) formerly on the altar of the church of St. Fortunato in Montefalco
He was called Gozzoli by Giorgio Vasari in the 1568 edition of his book dedicated to the lives of the artists, but all the other existing documents identify him as Benozzo di Lese
"The Madonna of the Girdle is interwoven with references to contemporary preaching. (...) The episodes of the predella, touched by a rhythmic freedom of unprecedented magnitude, are notable for subtlety and variety of descriptive setting, recalling solutions present in the eastern gate of the Baptistery in Florence" (Guido Cornini)
"Deposition" by an artist of the school of Benozzo Gozzoli
"Miracle of St. Louis of Toulouse" about 1458/60 by the Sienese Lorenzo di Pietro aka Vecchietta (about 1412/80)
"The Miracle of St. Louis of Toulouse exhibits, in the complex perspective framework, a spatial illusionism comparable to that of the 'stacciato' (disconnected) by Donatello: but Vecchietta doesn't understands Donatello's profound implications, too busy trying to translate in linear rhythms the simple plasticity of the model" (Guido Cornini)
Four panels of the predella with "Stories of Christ" by the Pseudo Domenico di Michelino
Two tables "Martyrdom of Sts. Simon and Jude" and "Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew" fifteenth century by the Rhenish school

No comments:

Post a Comment