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July 1998

Vol. 140 | No. 1144

The Burlington Magazine

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Editorial

Stones of Florence

A one-day conference on urban 'degrado' held at the Accademia del Disegno in Florence on 15th May aired many of the issues that have preoccupied editorial comment on the city in this Magazine over the last half century, as well as producing some radical new suggestions for the future of Florence's monuments and works of sculpture. Organised by the Dipartimento di Storia dell'Architettura e Restauro of Florence University, the conference was launched as the first in an annual series addressing the problems of architectural and urban 'decay' (the bilingual title acknowledging the historic interventions of Anglo-Saxon commentators into debates on the state of the city).

 

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  • New Documents for Sassetta and Sano di Pietro at the Porta Romana, Siena

    By Machtelt Israëls

    The history of the Coronation of the Virgin fresco on the Porta Romana in Siena (Fig. 1) is well known and well documented. In 1416 the city council asked Taddeo di Bartolo to paint a representation of the Madonna on the gate, but he seems not to have embarked on the commission by the time of his death in 1422. New life was breathed into the enterprise in 1442, and in 1447 Sassetta began the work. By the time he died in 1450, he had executed the angel choirs in the vault and had completed the design for the rest of the composition. His place was taken in 1459 by Sano di Pietro, who finished the Coronation of the Virgin almost a decade later. Over subsequent centuries the fresco was much damaged by exposure to the elements and finally by allied bombing in 1944; it has been restored several times.' Only the angels in the vault are fairly well preserved, while the Coronation itself has almost disappeared. In the 1970s the much-damaged fresco was detached and placed on the inner facade of the church of S. Francesco. On that occasion the technique was studied closely: traces of spolvero were found in the angel choirs in the vault, while sinopie were exposed under the Coronation (Figs.2 and 6). The purpose of this article is to publish some new documents (see the Appendix below), which expand our knowledge of the genesis of the fresco and its makers and provide fascinating information about the early use of cartoons.

     

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  • Towards a New Chronology for Ridolfo Ghirlandaio and Michele Tosini

    By David Franklin

    In an article published in this Magazine in 1993, I attempted to provide fixed dates for some surviving altar-pieces produced by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio and his workshop in the second decade of the sixteenth century,' and suggested that the received view of Ridolfo's production prior to 1520 should be modified. The elevated patronage he received from the Medici and other prominent Florentine families and corporations - which still awaits thorough study - should alone justify serious interest in his work. Ridolfo is also one of the relatively few renaissance artists who came to move in the same circles as their patrons. In 1510 he married Contessina di Giovanbatista di Bianco Deti, from a family who could boast a Gonfaloniere of Justice as early as 1344,2 and he himself was apparently made 'de collegio' under the Medici principate,3 so becoming eligible for political office, although there is no evidence that he ever assumed such a role. He was, however, chosen by the confraternity of S. Maria della Croce al Tempio in Florence to be captain, with Manni Albizi, of the Quarter of San Giovanni in 1535 as a hitherto unknown document shows.4 Given Vasari's constant stress on the status of artists, it is surprising that he did not make more of Ridolfo's social standing. However, the tone of his biography of Ridolfo is perfectly neutral and uncritical, and one might be forgiven for supposing that he preferred Ridolfo to, for example, his greatly superior but more various and difficult contemporary, Pontormo.

     

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  • The 'Master of the Kress Landscapes' Unmasked: Giovanni Larciani and the Fucecchio Altar-Piece

    By Louis Alexander Waldman

    Ever since his oeuvre was constructed over thirty-five years ago by Federico Zeri, the painter known as the 'Master of the Kress Landscapes' has been recognised as one of the most idiosyncratic and intriguing painters of the Florentine maniera - and one of its most perplexing enigmas.' Taking his Notname from three landscape spalliere now in the National Gallery in Washington (Fig.20), the so-called 'Kress Master' is the author of some twenty pictures, which reveal a vigorously imaginative and wholly individual style distinguished by a nervously calligraphic and occasionally awkward draughtsmanship, offset by a vibrant palette and richly sensuous impasto. As his pseudonym suggests, the 'Kress Master' often filled the backgrounds of his pictures with intensely beautiful landscapes, typically combining dramatic Dureresque ter- rains, forlorn crags or fantastic cities and lanky, angular figures sketched with a confident, lightning-swift brush. Scholars, taking their lead from stylistic influences detected in his work, have conjecturally identified this anonymous Mannerist with various of the nomi senza quadrimentioned by Vasari.2 But thanks to three recently discovered contracts for the artist's most important work - his dated altar-piece of 1523 in the Museo Civico of Fucecchio (Fig. 19) - the master can at last be securely identified and given the foundations of a biography." He is revealed as a Florentine painter by the name of Giovanni di Lorenzo Larciani (1484-1527), who does not even receive a passing mention from Vasari. Taking the contracts as a starting point, it has also been possible to clarify the problematic iconography of the Fucecchio altar- piece and to reconstruct the circumstances of the commission. In addition, questions can now be posed about the painter's artistic formation and his place in early Cinquecento Florentine art.

     

     

     

     

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  • Pamela Askew (1925-97)

    By Ruth Rubinstein
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  • Bernice Davidson (1927-98)

    By Edgar Munhall
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  • Painting in the Age of Giotto: A Historical Re-Evaluation

    By Paul Hills
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  • Tendencies of Gothic in Florence: Andrea Bonaiuti. (A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, IV [VII,i])

    By Julian Gardner
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  • The Sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio

    By Alison Wright
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  • Giorgione: Peintre de la 'brievete poetique'. Catalogue raisonne

    By Paul Holberton
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  • The Religious Art of Jacopo Bassano: Painting as Visual Exegesis

    By Jack M. Greenstein
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  • Moritz der Gelehrte - Ein Renaissancefurst in Europa

    By Mark T. Lindholm
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  • Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nurnberg. Die Gemalde des 16. Jahrhunderts

    By John Oliver Hand
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  • Italian Drawings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, a Catalogue of the Collection

    By Hugo Chapman
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  • Catalogo del Museo Civico di Belluno. Volume terzo: Le Placchette e i Piccoli Bronzi. Le Sculture

    By Jeremy Warren
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  • Pinacoteca di Brera: Addenda e apparati generali. Musei e gallerie di Milan

    By Carl Brandon Strehlke
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  • Cataleg d'escultura i pintura dels segles XVI, XVII i XVIII (Fons del Museu Frederic Mares, III)

    By Marjorie Trusted
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  • Seventeenth-Century British Prints. London

    By Graham Parry
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  • Anish Kapoor. London

    By John Haldane
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  • Recent American Painting. London

    By Simon Wallis
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  • Géricault. Cambridge

    By Frances Suzman Jowell
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  • Bruce Nauman. Paris and London

    By Alex Potts
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  • Ferrarese Manuscript Illumination. Ferrara

    By Carl Brandon Strehlke
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  • Soutine. New York

    By Merlin James
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  • Alex Katz. New York

    By David Carrier
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  • Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley. New York and Minneapolis [Malibu]

    By Robert Silberman
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