Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Slides for Week 10

1.       Andrea del Sarto, The Annunciation, 1512-13, Oil on wood, 183 x 184 cm, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence.

2.       Pontormo, Visitation, 1514-16, Fresco, 392 x 337 cm, Santissima Annunziata, Florence.

3.       Fra Bartolommeo, Mystic Marriage of St Catherine, 1512, Panel, 356 x 270 cm, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti).

4.       Pontormo, Sacra Conversazione, 1514, Fresco, 223 x 196 cm, Santissima Annunziata, Florence.

5.       Rosso Fiorentino, Assumption of the Virgin, 1517, Fresco, 385 x 395 cm, Santissima Annunziata, Florence.

6.       Rosso Fiorentino, Madonna Enthroned with Four Saints, 1518, Oil on wood, 172 x 141 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

7.       Pontormo, Madonna and Child with Saints, 1518, Oil on wood, 214 x 185 cm, San Michele Visdomini, Florence.

8.       Pontormo, Joseph in Egypt, 1515-18, Oil on wood, 96 x 109 cm, National Gallery, London.

9.       Rosso Fiorentino, Marriage of the Virgin, 1523, Oil on wood, 325 x 250 cm, San Lorenzo, Florence.

10.   Pontormo, Deposition, c. 1528, Oil on wood, 313 x 192 cm, Cappella Capponi, Santa Felicità, Florence.

11.   Il Rosso, Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro, 1523-24, Oil on canvas, 160 x 117 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

12.   Il Rosso, The Dead Christ supported by Angels, c. 1525-6, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 

13.   Bronzino (prev. att to Pontormo), The Holy Family, c. 1527-28, overall: 101.3 x 78.7 cm (39 7/8 x 31 in.) framed: 147.3 x 123.2 x 8.9 cm (58 x 48 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.), oil on panel, Washington National Gallery of Art.

14.   Bronzino, Ugolino Martelli, c. 1535, Oil on wood, 102 x 85 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin.

15.   Bronzino, A Portrait of a Young Man, (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano), 1530s, 37 5/8 x 29 1/2 in. (95.6 x 74.9 cm), oil on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

16.   Bronzino, Deposition of Christ, 1545, Oil on wood, 268 x 173 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie, Besançon.

17.   Bronzino, Venus, Cupid and Time (Allegory of Lust), 1540-45, Oil on wood, 147 x 117 cm, National Gallery, London

18.   Allesandro Allori, Pearl Fishers, 1570-72, Oil on slate, 116 x 86 cm, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

19.   Giovan Battista Naldini, Bathsheba, 1570s, Oil on canvas, 182 x 150 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

20.   Barocci, Madonna del Popolo, 1575-79, Oil on panel, 360 x 250 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

21.   Mirabella Cavalori, Wool Factory, 1570-72, Oil on slate, 117 x 85 cm, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

22.   Santi di Tito, Madonna, Christ Child and Infant John the Baptist, early 1570s, oil on wood, 40 7/8 x 33 3/4 in. (103.8 x 85.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

23.   Jacopo Ligozzi, Agony in the Garden, c. 1587, Oil on panel, 165 x 130 cm, Private collection.

24.   Jacopo Ligozzi, Psittacus Ararauna, 1580-1600, Drawing, 670 x 456 mm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

25.   Santi di Tito, Vision of St Thomas Aquinas, 1593, Oil on panel, 362 x 233 cm, San Marco, Florence.

26.   Francesco Furini, Judith and Holofernes, 1636, Oil on canvas, 116 x 151 cm, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.

Images on Skydrive here.

The Florentine Reformers.

This is the name that Freedberg gave to the group of painters trained and/or influenced by Bronzino, but who rejected his ideas in favour of a more naturalistic painting. The main one was Santi di Tito, an artist from San Sepolcro who trained with Cellini in Rome. On his return to Florence in 1564, Santi wrestled with the implausible project of bringing mannerism and naturalism together. Eventually he wearied of mannerism altogether and returned to the classical high renaissance. His beautiful Holy Family recently purchased by the Met still shows the residue of Bronzino, but its grace and easiness suggest an artist who has returned to the principles of classicism, notably Sarto and Raphael. 

As his career progressed, Santi’s art became more realistic and in tune with some of ideals of the Counter-Reformation. Freedberg is right to say that his late altarpieces are not separate stylistically from those of the seventeenth-century. What could be called Santi’s masterpiece, the Vision of St Thomas Aquinas could be aligned comfortably with art produced by the likes of post- Caravaggio artists such as Orazio Gentileschi who modified Caravaggio’s realism and blended it with his refined classicism. Also noticeable is matter-of-factness in the St Thomas countering, but paradoxically aiding the appearance of a divine vision. This treatment of religious art which eliminates the aesthetic qualities of maniera in favour of more direct piety is commensurate with the demand for clarity in art called for by the Council of Trent. 

Other reformers like the Venetian Jacopo Ligozzi who came to Florence not only strayed from the style of mannerism but also its sources. Instead of drawing sculpture or avidly assimilating Michelangelo’s art, Ligozzi painted watercolours of birds and animals for clients of a scientific bent. Naturalism found its way into such devotional images as Agony in the Garden, though its strident colours sit oddly with his naturalistic observation of the landscape. 

With most of its major pieces taken, and time running out Florentine mannerism found itself facing checkmate. In the next century Florentine artists like Francesco Furini would take their cue from Caravaggio and the heirs of Leonardo, not the school of Pontormo. His "Judith and Holofernes" betrays his debt to Caravaggio.

Bronzino and Late Mannerism.

It is known that Bronzino was a pupil of Pontormo, and in his formative years he was content to base his style on his master’s art; this derivative tendency can be seen in the Washington Holy Family, significantly attributed to Pontormo in earlier times. 

Then there are Bronzino’s portraits where his artistic personality begins to emerge. Though these famous portraits of haughty aristocrats contain something of the Pontormo blueprint, there are signs that the pupil has begun to evolve his own style in response to his researches into Pontormo and the mannerist godfather- Michelangelo. The Ugolino Martelli (Berlin) and Portrait of a Young Man (New York) rely upon cursive draughtsmanship associated with Pontormo; but the contrapposto suggests Michelangelo’s figures. As Freedberg points out, Bronzino’s art depends upon a recipe that unites sharp delineation, an eye for the objective reality of details and a pervasive aesthetic sense. His art is sophisticated, but knowingly refined as if the artist is sharing a secret with those in the know. 

Bronzino’s researches into the “high maniera” culminate in his Pietà where Michelangelo’s earlier version is re-invented as a cold, frozen mask of beauty that inspires aesthetic contemplation rather than religious devotion. And in the canonical Allegory in the National Gallery, Bronzino seems to have petrified art as if to keep it away from human experience and emotions. 

Unsurprisingly Bronzino had many acolytes who though originating in non-maniera spaces eventually succumbed to its style, perhaps envisaging it as the new Florentine mode par excellence. Bronzino’s closest pupil, Allesandro Allori, faithfully adhered to his master’s stylized use of Michelangelo, as can be seen in his Pearl Fishers. This painting extracts motifs from various Michelangelo-esque sources like the The Deluge and Cascina Cartoon, not to mention the canon of classical sculpture. 

 Another one of Bronzino’s heirs, Giovanni Battista Naldini, had an ambivalent attitude towards maniera; initially he embraced it through Bronzino and Vasari; but subsequently reached back towards Sarto through Pontormo (his first master) and the initial phase of the maniera. Strong sfumato with a painterly brush shows a lack of sympathy with the pronounced graphic tendency of mannerism; moreover sfumato suffuses Naldini’s paintings with emotion, which, for Freedberg, places him halfway between Andrea del Sarto and Barocci, subject of a current exhibition in London. 

Some might argue that the endgame of mannerism is all about a struggle between naturalism and the intense artifice that characterised the style. Well before the Florentine reformers –see below- the obscure Mirabella Cavalori was using light in a realistic way in his genre scenes. If it were not for the strange Pontormo-esque forms and abrupt spatial shifts, his Wool Factory could remind us of the realist painters of the next century, like the Carracci and Velasquez. 

Pontormo and Rosso: The Dioscuri of Mannerism.

Pontormo and Rosso provide good case studies in mannerism because they were both born in 1494 amidst the political and social turmoil in renaissance Florence which is often seen as a cause of the mannerist mind-set.[1] In 1492 Lorenzo the Magnificent had died which resulted in Savanorola growing politically powerful. The two painters made their artistic debut whilist both working for Andrea del Sarto on the fresco cycles at Santissima Annuziata between the end of 1512 and the start of 1513. Just a glance at Pontormo’s Visitation is enough to register his debt to main stream classicists like Andrea and Fra Bartolommeo. As Heinrich Wöfflin enthused about this altarpiece, it raised the “centralised scheme” of Andrea del Sarto “to the level of an architectonic effect.”[2]  Yet already we see Pontormo introducing his own singular language; the book-ending figures (saint and amphora-bearing woman) are too stiffly posed and seem to be demonstration pieces rather than elements unifying the composition. Secondly, Pontormo ruffles the calm grandeur with his network of glances across the painting, e.g. the woman on the steps, who looks directly out at the viewer in contrast to the introspective central group. In this altarpiece we also detect the influence of Fra Bartolommeo, though the Visitation also contains signs of how Pontormo would divert from the Frate. 

If we turn away from Pontormo and look at Rosso’s Assumption of the Virgin in the same church, we’ll see the echoes of Fra Bartolommeo’s Last Judgement in this fresco. However, like Pontormo, Rosso has his own stylistic idiosyncrasies: the drapery of the apostles falls over the ledge; there is a strange “closed circle” in the rectangular block of the earthbound apostles.   

We could continue to chart the careers of the “Dioscuri” (Horsetamers) of Florentine mannerism (Letta), but eventually their paths would divide. Rosso moved further afield, Venice, France- but Pontormo rarely strayed outside Florence where he painted and kept a journal of his digestive maladies. In the words of Freedberg, Pontormo makes Fra Bartolommeo “nervously complex” imposing a psychological immediacy on the viewer in such works as S. Michele Visdomini altarpiece which fills the spectator with excitement, but not necessarily spirituality. Comparing the site of Pontormo’s stylistic rebellion with that of Rosso, the Uffizi Madonna and Saints of 1518, we can see that despite his classical models, Rosso is even more opposed to the classical ideal. Apart from the grotesque faces, the colour, prismatic in effect, dissolves plasticity of form in favour of a more optical than sculptural effect. 

Pontormo’s “formal research” (Letta) continues with the London Joseph panels which gleefully warp space and perspective with interesting though disorientating results. However, formal research is not conducted as a means of intensifying the bizarre, but as a means of introducing refinement and even a precious quality linked to sensibility (Freedberg). Paradoxically, the mannerist experiments culminate in a work in which intense expression conveyed through striking colour and swirling shapes are married with a lucidity of line which mirrors Pontormo’s clear thinking- the Deposition, his unqualified masterpiece and coda to his career.   

As for Rosso, the latter stages of his career are marked by fervid admiration of Michelangelo culminating in the Moses and the Daughters of Jethro- abstract formalism via the Cascina cartoon- and the Dead Christ, the latter one of the most successful amalgamations of aestheticism with religiosity. With the Sack of Rome in 1627, all Rosso’s paranoia and misery were unleashed; he fled northwards, leading an increasingly nomadic existence. His last years were spent in France, where he played a large role in founding the classical style there.

[1] Their twin trajectories are well traced by Elisabetta Marchetti Letta, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, (Scala, 1994).
[2] Heinrich Wöfflin, Classic Art, (Oxford, ), 159.