Department of Art History and Art Conservation Faculty Publications

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    Pictures for the Nation: Conceptualizing a Collection of 'Old Masters' for London, 1775-1800
    (2009-01-26T21:18:08Z) Campbell, Kristin; Art History; Brooke, Janet M.; Jessup, Lynda
    This thesis addresses the growing impulse towards establishing a public, national collection of Old Master pictures for Britain, located in London, in the last quarter of the eighteenth-century. It does so by identifying the importance of individual conceptualizations of what such a collection might mean for a nation, and how it might come to be realized for an imprecisely defined public. My thesis examines the shifting dynamics between private and public collections during the period of 1775 to 1800, repositioning notions of what constituted space for viewing and accessing art in a national context, and investigates just who participated in the ensuing dialogues about various uses of art for the nation. To this end, three case studies have been employed. The first examines the collection of pictures assembled by Sir Robert Walpole and their public legacy. The second explores the proposal for a national collection of art put forth by art dealer Noel Desenfans. The third examines the frustrated plans of Sir Joshua Reynolds for his collection of Old Master pictures. Through the respective lenses provided by the case studies, it is demonstrated that the envisioning of a national gallery for Britain pitched competing perspectives against each other, as different kinds of people jockeyed for cultural authority. The process of articulating and shaping these ambitions with an eye towards national benefit was only beginning to be explored, and negotiations of private ambitions and interests surrounding picture collections for the public was further complicated by factors of social class and profession. This thesis demonstrate that the boundaries of participation in matters concerning art for the nation were not fixed regarding Old Master pictures and the value placed on them in late eighteenth-century London.
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    On Gilded Ugliness: Donatello's Penitent Magdalen and Issues of Beauty, Sanctity, and Sexuality in Fifteenth Century Florence
    (2008-09-28T18:02:25Z) Huntley, Theresa; Art History; D'Elia, Una
    The sins of the flesh and the mortification of the flesh characterize the biography of the saint known as Mary Magdalen. The polychrome wooden sculpture by Donatello from c.1455 was described by Vasari as: “wasted away by her fastings and abstinence." The extreme emaciation of the figure contrasts with the image of the beautiful and mournful Magdalen frequently seen at the foot of the cross in medieval crucifixion scenes. With virtually no documentation concerning its commission, much of the scholarship on this particular piece focuses on dating and the intended installation site. This thesis aims to examine the relationship between the emaciated style and the manner of polychromy in Donatello’s Penitent Magdalen as an example of the redeeming power of penance. On a figure known for a life of sin and prostitution but also redemption, the gilding juxtaposed with a haggard and ugly body creates a dynamic relationship between sanctity and beauty (or the lack thereof) and demonstrates the effect of penance on the sinner. The extreme emaciation and rough finish of the piece, in tandem with the gilding of the hair, created an effect of light that was significant to the Renaissance understanding of the saint’s character but also to a larger discourse on female sexuality and spirituality. The multifaceted character of Mary Magdalen and Donatello’s depiction of her was understood by Quattrocento Florentines on a variety of levels. Higher social classes would readily grasp the sculpture’s affinity with Petrarchan tropes and philosophical ideas, particularly in terms of light imagery and descriptions of love. But the average viewer would also make more prosaic associations between the figure of the Magdalen and popular preaching and prostitution. Through an examination of the cultural climate of fifteenth century Florence, this investigation will situate Donatello’s uniquely emaciated and gilded sculpture in the visual tradition of Magdalen imagery, motifs of female spirituality in Donatello’s career, the literary tradition of describing female beauty, and societal concerns about prostitution and female sexuality.
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    Giovanni Battista Montano as Architectural Draughtsman: Recording the Past and Designing the Future
    (2008-09-27T21:01:56Z) Knight, Janina M.; Art History; Pierre du Prey
    Giovanni Battista Montano (1534-1621), who was born in Milan and trained as a woodcarver, relocated permanently to Rome in the early 1570s where his interest in sculpting was replaced by intense study of the city’s antique monuments and ruins. Although Montano carried out several sculptural and architectural projects during his time in Rome, it is his surviving corpus of drawings that testifies to his passion of exploring ancient architecture through the medium of drawing. While Montano was not famous during his lifetime, a large body of his intriguing designs became celebrated and widely circulated after his death thanks to the 1624 publication of Montano’s designs by his loyal pupil, Giovanni Battista Soria. Montano’s lifelong work differs from virtually all of his predecessors and contemporaries in its “fantastical” and ornamental nature. This thesis explores Montano’s artistic training as it relates to his later interest in imaginatively reconstructing antique buildings, along with his disregard for archaeological or historical accuracy. The subject matter upon which Montano focused is discussed, along with his objective in creating a large corpus of half-historical, half-invented drawings. His drawing techniques are explored with specific reference to the largest group of extant Montano drawings, today housed in Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, England, and also in reference to three original Montano drawings in the Centre Canadien d’Architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. Also explored is the legacy and impact of Montano’s drawings and the later publications of his designs on the works of Roman Baroque architects, specifically Borromini and Bernini. This thesis ultimately attempts to understand the impact of the intellectual and artistic environment surrounding Montano in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Rome, his drawing techniques, his choice of subject matter, and the reception that his unique works received from contemporary artists and intellectuals, along with those of the following generation.
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    Evidence for the Confraternity of S. Pietro Martire at San Zanipolo, Venice
    (2005-01-20T15:54:23Z) Osborne, John
    This conference paper looks at evidence of 15th- and 16th-century saints' images on carved door frames at the church of S. Zanipolo (SS Giovanni e Paolo) in Venice, using them to help locate and reconstruct the history of the 'albergo' of the confraternity dedicated to St Peter Martyr and St Vincent Ferrer. Suggestions are made concerning the possible relationship of confraternity buildings outside a church to altars dedicated to the same saint(s) within that church.
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    The Cult of 'Maria Regina' in Early Medieval Rome
    (2004-11-24T14:05:53Z) Osborne, John
    This paper examines the importance of the cult of Mary to religious practice in early medieval Rome, with a particular focus on the manifestations of devotion to Mary in the decoration of churches such as S. Maria Antiqua and San Clemente.