Giacobbe Giusti, MARGARITONE D’AREZZO

Giacobbe Giusti, MARGARITONE D’AREZZO

Margaritone d’Arezzo

Margaritone d’Arezzo, Madonna and Child, c. 1270

Margarito or Margaritone d’Arezzo (fl. c. 1250–1290) was an Italian painter from Arezzo.

Margaritone d’Arezzo, Francis of Assisi

Life

Little is known of Margaritone’s life. The only documentary record of his existence dates from 1262, when he lived in Arezzo. However, a fair number of his works are known to survive; unusually for the time, most are signed. Their nature and distribution indicate that Margaritone was much in demand as an artist, both in Arezzo and throughout Tuscany. Outside Italy, his fame rests mainly on his entry in Giorgio Vasari‘s The Lives of the Artists.

Style

Margaritone’s style is uniquely identifiable, standing as it does outside the mainstream of 13th-century Italian painting. His work has at times been dismissed as either reactionary and provincial, and indeed he was often held up by critics in the 19th century as a prime example of the barbarism perceived in late Byzantine painting. Given the lack of surviving dates, no chronology for his career has yet been created.

Paintings by Margaritone are held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and at the National Gallery, London; in addition, a number of works may be found at sites around Arezzo.

Name

Margaritone’s given name was Margarito, but it was transcribed erroneously by Vasari as “Margaritone”. It is by this latter form that he is usually known today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaritone_d%27Arezzo

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com

Advertisements

Giacobbe Giusti, Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa

Giacobbe Giusti, Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa

See adjacent text.

 

 

Mona Lisa

This article is about the painting. For other uses, see Mona Lisa (disambiguation).
Mona Lisa
Italian: La Gioconda, French: La Joconde

 

See adjacent text.
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year c. 1503–06, perhaps continuing until c. 1517
Type Oil
Medium Populus
Subject Possibly Lisa Gherardini
Dimensions 77 cm × 53 cm (30 in × 21 in)
Location Musée du Louvre, Paris

The Mona Lisa (/ˌmnə ˈlsə/; Italian: Monna Lisa [ˈmɔnna ˈliːza] or La Gioconda [la dʒoˈkonda], French: La Joconde [la ʒɔkɔ̃d]) is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, which has been acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”.[1]

The painting, thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797.[2]

The subject’s expression, which is frequently described as enigmatic,[3] the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the continuing fascination and study of the work.[4]

Title and subject

Main article: Lisa del Giocondo

The title of the painting, which is known in English as Mona Lisa, comes from a description by Renaissance art historian Giorgio Vasari, who wrote “Leonardo undertook to paint, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Mona Lisa, his wife.”[5][6] Mona in Italian is a polite form of address originating as ma donna – similar to Ma’am, Madam, or my lady in English. This became madonna, and its contraction mona. The title of the painting, though traditionally spelled “Mona” (as used by Vasari[5]), is also commonly spelled in modern Italian as Monna Lisa (“mona” being a vulgarity in some Italian dialects) but this is rare in English.[citation needed]

Vasari’s account of the Mona Lisa comes from his biography of Leonardo published in 1550, 31 years after the artist’s death. It has long been the best-known source of information on the provenance of the work and identity of the sitter. Leonardo’s assistant Salaì, at his death in 1525, owned a portrait which in his personal papers was named la Gioconda, a painting bequeathed to him by Leonardo.

That Leonardo painted such a work, and its date, were confirmed in 2005 when a scholar at Heidelberg University discovered a marginal note in a 1477 printing of a volume written by the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero. Dated October 1503, the note was written by Leonardo’s contemporary Agostino Vespucci. This note likens Leonardo to renowned Greek painter Apelles, who is mentioned in the text, and states that Leonardo was at that time working on a painting of Lisa del Giocondo.[7]

A margin note by Agostino Vespucci (visible at right) discovered in a book at Heidelberg University. Dated 1503, it states that Leonardo was working on a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.

The model, Lisa del Giocondo,[8][9] was a member of the Gherardini family of Florence and Tuscany, and the wife of wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo.[10] The painting is thought to have been commissioned for their new home, and to celebrate the birth of their second son, Andrea.[11] The Italian name for the painting, La Gioconda, means “jocund” (“happy” or “jovial”) or, literally, “the jocund one”, a pun on the feminine form of Lisa’s married name, “Giocondo”.[10][12] In French, the title La Joconde has the same meaning.

Before that discovery, scholars had developed several alternative views as to the subject of the painting. Some argued that Lisa del Giocondo was the subject of a different portrait, identifying at least four other paintings as the Mona Lisa referred to by Vasari.[13][14] Several other women have been proposed as the subject of the painting.[15] Isabella of Aragon,[16] Cecilia Gallerani,[17] Costanza d’Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla,[15] Isabella d’Este, Pacifica Brandano or Brandino, Isabela Gualanda, Caterina Sforza—even Salaì and Leonardo himself—are all among the list of posited models portrayed in the painting.[18][19] The consensus of art historians in the 21st century maintains the long-held traditional opinion, that the painting depicts Lisa del Giocondo.[7]

History

Main article: Leonardo da Vinci

Presumed self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, executed in red chalk sometime between 1512 and 1515

Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Florence, Italy.[20] Although the Louvre states that it was “doubtless painted between 1503 and 1506”,[4] the art historian Martin Kemp says there are some difficulties in confirming the actual dates with certainty.[10] According to Leonardo’s contemporary, Giorgio Vasari, “after he had lingered over it four years, [he] left it unfinished”.[6] Leonardo, later in his life, is said to have regretted “never having completed a single work”.[21]

In 1516, Leonardo was invited by King François I to work at the Clos Lucé near the king’s castle in Amboise. It is believed that he took the Mona Lisa with him and continued to work after he moved to France.[18] Art historian Carmen C. Bambach has concluded that da Vinci probably continued refining the work until 1516 or 1517.[22]

Upon his death, the painting was inherited with other works by his pupil and assistant Salaì.[10] Francis I bought the painting for 4,000 écus and kept it at Palace of Fontainebleau, where it remained until Louis XIV moved the painting to the Palace of Versailles. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre, but spent a brief period in the bedroom of Napoleon in the Tuileries Palace.

During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) it was moved from the Louvre to the Brest Arsenal.[23] During World War II, the painting was again removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Château d’Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and Château de Chambord, then finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban.

In December 2015, it was reported that French scientist Pascal Cotte had found a hidden portrait underneath the surface of the painting using reflective light technology.[24] The portrait is an underlying image of a model looking off to the side.[25] Having been given access to the painting by Louvre in 2004, Cotte spent ten years using layer amplification methods to study the painting.[24] According to Cotte, the underlying image is Leonardo’s original Mona Lisa.[24][26]

Theft and vandalism

“La Joconde est Retrouvée” (“Mona Lisa is Found”), Le Petit Parisien, 13 December 1913

Vacant wall in the Salon Carré, Louvre after the painting was stolen in 1911

On 21 August 1911, the painting was stolen from the Louvre.[27] The next day, painter Louis Béroud walked into the museum and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years, only to find four iron pegs on the wall. Béroud contacted the head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed for promotional purposes. A few hours later, Béroud checked back with the Section Chief of the Louvre who confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week during the investigation.

The Mona Lisa on display in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, 1913. Museum director Giovanni Poggi (right) inspects the painting.

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down”, came under suspicion and was arrested and imprisoned. Apollinaire implicated his friend Pablo Picasso, who was brought in for questioning. Both were later exonerated.[28][29] Two years later the thief was found. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen the Mona Lisa by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed.[12] Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed da Vinci’s painting should have been returned for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend whose copies of the original would significantly rise in value after the painting’s theft. A later account suggested Eduardo de Valfierno had been the mastermind of the theft and had commissioned forger Yves Chaudron to create six copies of the painting to sell in the U.S. while the location of the original was unclear.[30] However, the original painting remained in Europe. After having kept the Mona Lisa in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was caught when he attempted to sell it to directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery for over two weeks and returned to the Louvre on 4 January 1914.[31] Peruggia served six months in prison for the crime and was hailed for his patriotism in Italy.[29] Before its theft, the Mona Lisa was not widely known outside the art world. It was not until the 1860s that some critics, a thin slice of the French intelligentsia, began to hail it as a masterwork of Renaissance painting.[32]

In 1956, part of the painting was damaged when a vandal threw acid at it.[33] On 30 December of that year, a speck of pigment near the left elbow was damaged when a rock was thrown at the painting, which was later restored.[34]

The use of bulletproof glass has shielded the Mona Lisa from subsequent attacks. In April 1974, a woman, upset by the museum’s policy for disabled people, sprayed red paint at it while it was being displayed at the Tokyo National Museum.[35] On 2 August 2009, a Russian woman, distraught over being denied French citizenship, threw a ceramic teacup purchased at the Louvre; the vessel shattered against the glass enclosure.[36][37] In both cases, the painting was undamaged.

Aesthetics

Detail of the background (right side)

The Mona Lisa bears a strong resemblance to many Renaissance depictions of the Virgin Mary, who was at that time seen as an ideal for womanhood.[38]

The depiction of the sitter in three-quarter profile is similar to late 15th-century works by Lorenzo di Credi and Agnolo di Domenico del Mazziere.[38] Zöllner notes that the sitter’s general position can be traced back to Flemish models and that “in particular the vertical slices of columns at both sides of the panel had precedents in Flemish portraiture.”[39] Woods-Marsden cites Hans Memling’s portrait of Benededetto Portinari (1487) or Italian imitations such as Sebastiano Mainardi’s pendant portraits for the use of a loggia, which has the effect of mediating between the sitter and the distant landscape, a feature missing from Leonardo’s earlier portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci.[40]

The woman sits markedly upright in a “pozzetto” armchair with her arms folded, a sign of her reserved posture. Her gaze is fixed on the observer. The woman appears alive to an unusual extent, which Leonardo achieved by his method of not drawing outlines (sfumato). The soft blending creates an ambiguous mood “mainly in two features: the corners of the mouth, and the corners of the eyes”.[41]

Detail of Lisa’s hands, her right hand resting on her left. Leonardo chose this gesture rather than a wedding ring to depict Lisa as a virtuous woman and faithful wife.[42]

The painting was one of the first portraits to depict the sitter in front of an imaginary landscape, and Leonardo was one of the first painters to use aerial perspective.[43] The enigmatic woman is portrayed seated in what appears to be an open loggia with dark pillar bases on either side. Behind her, a vast landscape recedes to icy mountains. Winding paths and a distant bridge give only the slightest indications of human presence. Leonardo has chosen to place the horizon line not at the neck, as he did with Ginevra de’ Benci, but on a level with the eyes, thus linking the figure with the landscape and emphasizing the mysterious nature of the painting.[40]

Mona Lisa has no clearly visible eyebrows or eyelashes. Some researchers claim that it was common at this time for genteel women to pluck these hairs, as they were considered unsightly.[44][45] In 2007, French engineer Pascal Cotte announced that his ultra-high resolution scans of the painting provide evidence that Mona Lisa was originally painted with eyelashes and with visible eyebrows, but that these had gradually disappeared over time, perhaps as a result of overcleaning.[46] Cotte discovered the painting had been reworked several times, with changes made to the size of the Mona Lisa’s face and the direction of her gaze. He also found that in one layer the subject was depicted wearing numerous hairpins and a headdress adorned with pearls which was later scrubbed out and overpainted.[47]

There has been much speculation regarding the painting’s model and landscape. For example, Leonardo probably painted his model faithfully since her beauty is not seen as being among the best, “even when measured by late quattrocento (15th century) or even twenty-first century standards.”[48] Some art historians in Eastern art, such as Yukio Yashiro, argue that the landscape in the background of the picture was influenced by Chinese paintings,[49] but this thesis has been contested for lack of clear evidence.[49]

Research in 2008 by a geomorphology professor at Urbino University and an artist-photographer revealed likenesses of Mona Lisas landscapes to some views in the Montefeltro region in the Italian provinces of Pesaro, Urbino and Rimini.[50][51]

Conservation

The Mona Lisa has survived for more than 500 years, and an international commission convened in 1952 noted that “the picture is in a remarkable state of preservation.”[52] This is partly due to a variety of conservation treatments the painting has undergone. A detailed analysis in 1933 by Madame de Gironde revealed that earlier restorers had “acted with a great deal of restraint.”[52] Nevertheless, applications of varnish made to the painting had darkened even by the end of the 16th century, and an aggressive 1809 cleaning and revarnishing removed some of the uppermost portion of the paint layer, resulting in a washed-out appearance to the face of the figure. Despite the treatments, the Mona Lisa has been well cared for throughout its history, and although the panel’s warping caused the curators “some worry”,[53] the 2004–05 conservation team was optimistic about the future of the work.[52]

Poplar panel

At some point, the Mona Lisa was removed from its original frame. The unconstrained poplar panel warped freely with changes in humidity, and as a result, a crack developed near the top of the panel, extending down to the hairline of the figure. In the mid-18th century to early 19th century, two butterfly-shaped walnut braces were inserted into the back of the panel to a depth of about one third the thickness of the panel. This intervention was skilfully executed, and successfully stabilized the crack. Sometime between 1888 and 1905, or perhaps during the picture’s theft, the upper brace fell out. A later restorer glued and lined the resulting socket and crack with cloth.[citation needed]

The picture is kept under strict, climate-controlled conditions in its bulletproof glass case. The humidity is maintained at 50% ±10%, and the temperature is maintained between 18 and 21 °C. To compensate for fluctuations in relative humidity, the case is supplemented with a bed of silica gel treated to provide 55% relative humidity.[52]

Frame

Because the Mona Lisa’s poplar support expands and contracts with changes in humidity, the picture has experienced some warping. In response to warping and swelling experienced during its storage during World War II, and to prepare the picture for an exhibit to honour the anniversary of Leonardo’s 500th birthday, the Mona Lisa was fitted in 1951 with a flexible oak frame with beech crosspieces. This flexible frame, which is used in addition to the decorative frame described below, exerts pressure on the panel to keep it from warping further. In 1970, the beech crosspieces were switched to maple after it was found that the beechwood had been infested with insects. In 2004–05, a conservation and study team replaced the maple crosspieces with sycamore ones, and an additional metal crosspiece was added for scientific measurement of the panel’s warp.[citation needed]

The Mona Lisa has had many different decorative frames in its history, owing to changes in taste over the centuries. In 1909, the Comtesse de Béhague gave the portrait its current frame,[54] a Renaissance-era work consistent with the historical period of the Mona Lisa. The edges of the painting have been trimmed at least once in its history to fit the picture into various frames, but no part of the original paint layer has been trimmed.[52]

Cleaning and touch-up

The first and most extensive recorded cleaning, revarnishing, and touch-up of the Mona Lisa was an 1809 wash and revarnishing undertaken by Jean-Marie Hooghstoel, who was responsible for restoration of paintings for the galleries of the Musée Napoléon. The work involved cleaning with spirits, touch-up of colour, and revarnishing the painting. In 1906, Louvre restorer Eugène Denizard performed watercolour retouches on areas of the paint layer disturbed by the crack in the panel. Denizard also retouched the edges of the picture with varnish, to mask areas that had been covered initially by an older frame. In 1913, when the painting was recovered after its theft, Denizard was again called upon to work on the Mona Lisa. Denizard was directed to clean the picture without solvent, and to lightly touch up several scratches to the painting with watercolour. In 1952, the varnish layer over the background in the painting was evened out. After the second 1956 attack, restorer Jean-Gabriel Goulinat was directed to touch up the damage to Mona Lisa’s left elbow with watercolour.[52]

In 1977, a new insect infestation was discovered in the back of the panel as a result of crosspieces installed to keep the painting from warping. This was treated on the spot with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment. In 1985, the spot was again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a preventive measure.[52]

Display

Mona Lisa behind bulletproof glass at the Louvre Museum

On 6 April 2005—following a period of curatorial maintenance, recording, and analysis—the painting was moved to a new location within the museum’s Salle des États. It is displayed in a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bulletproof glass.[55] Since 2005 the painting has been illuminated by an LED lamp, and in 2013 a new 20 watt LED lamp was installed, specially designed for this painting. The lamp has a Colour Rendering Index up to 98, and minimizes infrared and ultraviolet radiation which could otherwise degrade the painting.[56] The renovation of the gallery where the painting now resides was financed by the Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television.[57] About 6 million people view the painting at the Louvre each year.[18]

Fame

2014: Mona Lisa is among the greatest attractions in the Louvre

Today the Mona Lisa is considered the most famous painting in the world, but until the 20th century it was one among many highly regarded artworks.[58] Once part of King Francis I of France‘s collection, the Mona Lisa was among the very first artworks to be exhibited in Louvre, which became a national museum after the French Revolution. From the 19th century Leonardo began to be revered as a genius and the painting’s popularity grew from the mid-19th century when French intelligentsia developed a theme that it was somehow mysterious and a representation of the femme fatal.[59] In 1878, the Baedeker guide called it “the most celebrated work of Leonardo in the Louvre”.[60] but it was known more by the intellectual elite than the general public.

US President John F. Kennedy, Madeleine Malraux, André Malraux, Jacqueline Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson at the unveiling of the Mona Lisa at the National Gallery of Art during its visit to Washington D.C., 8 January 1963

The 1911 theft and the subsequent return was reported worldwide, leading to a massive increase in public recognition of the painting. During the 20th century it was an object for mass reproduction, merchandising, lampooning and speculation, and was claimed to have been reproduced in “300 paintings and 2,000 advertisements”.[60]

From December 1962 to March 1963, the French government lent it to the United States to be displayed in New York City and Washington, D.C.[61] It was shipped on the new liner SS France. In New York an estimated 1.7 million people queued “in order to cast a glance at the Mona Lisa for 20 seconds or so.”[60] In 1974, the painting was exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow.[62]

In 2014, 9.3 million people visited the Louvre,[63] Former director Henri Loyrette reckoned that “80 percent of the people only want to see the Mona Lisa.”[64]

Value

Before the 1962–63 tour, the painting was assessed for insurance at $100 million. The insurance was not bought. Instead, more was spent on security.[65] Adjusted for inflation using the US Consumer Price Index, $100 million in 1962 is around US$782 million in 2015[66] making it, in practice, by far the most valued painting in the world.

In 2014 a France 24 article suggested that the painting could be sold to help ease the national debt, although it was noted that the Mona Lisa and other such art works were prohibited from being sold due to French heritage law, which states that “Collections held in museums that belong to public bodies are considered public property and cannot be otherwise.”[67]

Raphael’s Young Woman with Unicorn, (c. 1506)
Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (c. 1514–15)
Le rire (The Laugh) by Eugène Bataille, or Sapeck (1883)

Legacy

Before its completion the Mona Lisa had already begun to influence contemporary Florentine painting. Raphael, who had been to Leonardo’s workshop several times, promptly used elements of the portrait’s composition and format in several of his works, such as Young Woman with Unicorn (c. 1506[68]), and Portrait of Maddalena Doni (c. 1506). Celebrated later paintings by Raphael, La velata (1515–16) and Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione (c. 1514–15), continued to borrow from Leonardo’s painting. Zollner states that “None of Leonardo’s works would exert more influence upon the evolution of the genre than the Mona Lisa. It became the definitive example of the Renaissance portrait and perhaps for this reason is seen not jut as the likeness of a real person, but also as the embodiment of an ideal.”[69]

Early commentators such as Vasari and André Félibien praised the picture for its realism, but by the Victorian era writers began to regard the Mona Lisa as imbued with a sense of mystery and romance. In 1859 Théophile Gautier wrote that the Mona Lisa was a “sphinx of beauty who smiles so mysteriously” and that “Beneath the form expressed one feels a thought that is vague, infinite, inexpressible. One is moved, troubled … repressed desires, hopes that drive one to despair, stir painfully.” Walter Pater‘s famous essay of 1869 described the sitter as “older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in the deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her.”[70] By the early 20th century some critics started to feel the painting had become a repository for subjective exegeses and theories,[71] and upon the paintings theft in 1911, Renaissance historian Bernard Berenson admitted that it had “simply become an incubus, and I was glad to be rid of her.”[71][72]

The avant-garde art world has made note of the undeniable fact of the Mona Lisas popularity. Because of the painting’s overwhelming stature, Dadaists and Surrealists often produce modifications and caricatures. Already in 1883, Le rire, an image of a Mona Lisa smoking a pipe, by Sapeck (Eugène Bataille), was shown at the “Incoherents” show in Paris. In 1919, Marcel Duchamp, one of the most influential modern artists, created L.H.O.O.Q., a Mona Lisa parody made by adorning a cheap reproduction with a moustache and goatee. Duchamp added an inscription, which when read out loud in French sounds like “Elle a chaud au cul” meaning: “she has a hot ass”, implying the woman in the painting is in a state of sexual excitement and intended as a Freudian joke.[73] According to Rhonda R. Shearer, the apparent reproduction is in fact a copy partly modelled on Duchamp’s own face.[74]

Salvador Dalí, famous for his surrealist work, painted Self portrait as Mona Lisa in 1954.[75] In 1963 following the painting’s visit to the United States, Andy Warhol created serigraph prints of multiple Mona Lisas called Thirty are Better than One, like his works of Marilyn Monroe (Twenty-five Coloured Marilyns, 1962), Elvis Presley (1964) and Campbell’s soup (1961–62).[76] The Mona Lisa continues to inspire artists around the world. A French urban artist known pseudonymously as Invader has created versions on city walls in Paris and Tokyo using his trademark mosaic style.[77] A collection of Mona Lisa parodies may be found on YouTube.[78] A 2014 New Yorker magazine cartoon parodies the supposed enigma of the Mona Lisa smile in an animation showing progressively maniacal smiles.

Early copies

Prado Museum La Gioconda

A version of Mona Lisa known as Mujer de mano de Leonardo Abince (“Leonardo da Vinci’s handy-woman”) held in Madrid’s Museo del Prado was for centuries considered to be a work by Leonardo. However, since its restoration in 2012 it is considered to have been executed by one of Leonardo’s pupils in his studio at the same time as Mona Lisa was being painted.[79] Their conclusion, based on analysis obtained after the picture underwent extensive restoration, that the painting is probably by Salaì (1480-1524) or by Melzi (1493-1572). This has been called into question by others.[80]

The restored painting is from a slightly different perspective than the original Mona Lisa, leading to the speculation that it is part of the world’s first stereoscopic pair.[81][82][83]

Isleworth Mona Lisa

Main article: Isleworth Mona Lisa

A version of the Mona Lisa known as the Isleworth Mona Lisa was first bought by an English nobleman in 1778 and was rediscovered in 1913 by Hugh Blaker, an art connoisseur. The painting was presented to the media in 2012 by the Mona Lisa Foundation.[84] The owners claim that Leonardo contributed to the painting, a theory that Leonardo experts such as Zöllner and Kemp deny has any substance.[85]

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mona_Lisa

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com

 

Giacobbe Giusti, Cimabue, The Crucifixion, c. 1277-80, fresco. Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi

Giacobbe Giusti, Cimabue, The Crucifixion, c. 1277-80, fresco. Upper Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 

 

 

Crocifissione del transetto sinistro

Crocifissione del transetto sinistro
Crocifissione del transetto sinistro
Autore Cimabue
Data 12771283 circa
Tecnica affresco
Dimensioni circa 350×300 cm
Ubicazione Basilica superiore di San Francesco, Assisi

L’immagine al negativo

La Crocifissione del transetto sinistro è un affresco (circa 350×300 cm) di Cimabue e aiuti, databile attorno al 12771283 circa e conservato nella basilica superiore di San Francesco di Assisi. La scena è accoppiata simmetricamente alla Crocifissione del transetto destro, dall’altro lato.

Storia

La datazione degli affreschi di Cimabue è piuttosto discorde, sebbene negli studi più recenti si sia assestata a un periodo tra il 1277, anno dell’elezione al soglio pontificio di Niccolò III e il 1283 circa. La zona del transetto sinistro è decorata dalle Storie apocalittiche.

Per questa scena, forse la più notevole dell’intero ciclo, non è mai stata messa in dubbio l’autografia del maestro[1].

Gli affreschi di Cimabue sono in generale in condizioni mediocri o pessime. Non fa eccezione questa Crocifissione, che dovette essere una delle scene più importanti dell’intero ciclo, e che oggi si presenta sfigurata da abrasioni (in parte colmate dall’ultimo restauro) e con i colori quasi invertiti in negativo, per l’ossidazione della biacca dei colori chiari, diventati oggi scuri. Nella zona inferiore esistono tuttavia alcuni brani coi colori originali ancora visibili.

Descrizione e stile

Possibile autoritratto di Cimabue

Il Cristo

Cristo sulla Croce si erge al centro del dipinto, vistosamente inarcato verso sinistra, come nelle note croci lignee sagomate di Cimabue. La metà superiore, celeste, è affollata d’angeli che manifestano tutto il loro dolore, volando in cerchio attorno al braccio breve della croce, coprendosi il viso piangente, alzando le mani al cielo, e raccogliendo pietosamente il sangue di Gesù con delle ciotole. Questi angeli saranno tenuti ben presenti da Giotto nella sua celebre Crocifissione della Cappella degli Scrovegni. Il capo del Cristo è particolarmente dolente, proteso in avanti anziché adagiato del tutto sulla spalla come nelle croci di Arezzo e di Firenze. Le braccia non sono parallele alla croce, ma se ne distaccano significando tutto il peso del martirio in corso.

Gli astanti

Nella metà inferiore, terrestre, il ritmo è reso altamente tragico dal triangolo di linee di forza, dato dalle pose drammatiche delle due figure ai lati della croce, la Maddalena a destra che distende le braccia e un ebreo che allunga il braccio quasi a toccare il perizoma prolungato di Cristo, che simboleggia il riconoscimento della figura di divina di Cristo da parte di alcuni astanti. Addirittura la Maddalena solleva anche un ginocchio, come se volesse lanciarsi sulla croce accanto a Gesù. Scrisse Adolfo Venturi: «non è più il crocifisso con ai lati le figure simmetriche del portaspugna e del portalancia, né quello con le istorie del suo martirio su un cartellone! Nuova è la scena in cui il dolore e l’odio irrompono da anime forti, le grida contrastano roboanti, i sentimenti si urtano nella tempesta del cielo e della terra». Nella lunga coda del perizoma, una novità iconografica, si moltiplicano le pieghe e le scanalature, con una tendenza al realismo senza schematizzazioni, verso un recupero del classicismo[1].

Ai lati si distendono due gruppi di figure. Quello di sinistra mostra Maria con la mano al petto, nel gesto tipico del dolente, mentre Giovanni le prende la mano per prendersene cura da allora in poi, secondo un episodio narrato solo nel Vangelo di Giovanni. Seguono le tre Marie e una folla di personaggi in secondo piano, tra cui si riconoscono numerosi uomini col capo coperto, gli Ebrei.

A destra invece si mischiano soldati romani ed ebrei, nelle loro espressioni di perplessità (c’è chi si tocca la barba) e di scherno, ma qualcuno accenna a un ripensamento, portando un dito alla bocca in segno di dubbio, e afferrandosi il polso per indicare l’impotenza. Uno addirittura si batte il petto in segno di pentimento, seguendo un passo del Vangelo di Luca (23, 47). Tra queste figure, il volto giovanile dietro al centurione è pressoché identico a un personaggio nell’Imposizione del nome al Battista nei mosaici del Battistero di Firenze (che per questo fu attribuita a Cimabue). L’ultimo volto a destra in prima fila è molto caratterizzato fisiognomicamente, a differenza degli altri, ed è stato ipotizzato che si tratti di un autoritratto del pittore.

Il pittore mise i personaggi uno dietro l’altro per dare idea di profondità, ma non seppe risolvere il conflitto di come essi poggiassero al suolo: ecco che i pochi piedi dipinti (solo per le figure in primo piano), si pestano uno sull’altro, come nei mosaici bizantini di San Vitale a Ravenna. I pochi colori originari superstiti, sopravvissuti proprio in questa zona, dimostrano una grande raffinatezza, che doveva da un effetto di delicata magnificenza: rosa, ocra, verde marcio, marrone. Qui dopotutto era in corso la realizzazione della “più straordinaria visione di forme e di splendori che artisti siano mai riusciti ad attuare” fino ad allora[1].

San Francesco

Alla base di questo triangolo sta rannicchiato san Francesco, che è riconoscibile dalle stimmate e che si bagna col sangue di Cristo che scorre sulla montagnola del Golgota fino al teschio nascosto di Adamo. Francesco appare qui come intermediario tra l’evento sacro e il fedele[2]. La sua presenza è stata interpretata anche come simbolo delle tribolazioni dell’ordine francescano secondo le dottrine apocalittiche di Pietro Olivi e Gioacchino da Fiore, come a dire che far soffrire Francesco e i suoi seguaci è come crocifiggere il Cristo una seconda volta[1].

Il gruppo di destra (negativo)

Alcuni spiegano così la doppia presenza della Crocifissione nella basilica superiore[3].

La questione di Longino

L’uomo che riconosce Cristo, col capo velato (quindi ebreo) impugna il bastone del comando ed ha già il nimbo di santo: difficile è capire se è per Cimabue san Longino, oppure se il fiorentino tenga distaccate le figure del centurione illuminato (per quanto ebreo) e di colui che trafisse Gesù con la lancia; dopotutto la raffigurazione esplicita del soldato con la lancia nella Crocifissione del transetto destro è priva di nimbo. Un uomo con la lancia compare però dietro di lui, e gli fa eco tenendo una posizione analoga col braccio disteso: è forse lui Longino o è un inserviente? Le altre due figure ai lati l’uomo con l’aureola, in un elegante contrapposto simmetrico, inoltre impugnano scudo e lancia: sembra che Cimabue abbia voluto disarmare quella figura per sottolinearne agiograficamente la virtù senza impacci guerreschi[4]. Secondo Chiara Frugoni l’uomo in primo piano è san Longino (che non è infrequente trovare rappresentato ora come ebreo ora come romano), mentre l’uomo che gli fa eco è un altro ebreo che illustra il passo del Vangelo di Luca, in cui si descrive il pentimento di una parte degli Ebrei[5].

In ogni caso, ammettere un santo tra i giudei che furono responsabili della crocifissione di Cristo (secondo la tradizione antigiudaica da san Giovanni in poi) rappresenta un’apertura verso il mondo giudaico fino ad allora senza precedenti, spiegabile forse con l’opera di redenzione ed evangelizzazione universale portata avanti dai Francescani[6]. Duccio di Buoninsegna ad esempio, nella Crocifissione della Maestà del Duomo di Siena, copiò la figura del riconoscitore di Cristo da Cimabue, ma ne omise il nimbo, facendolo ripriombare nell’anonimato della folla tumultuante[6]. A tale ipotesi di accoglienza francescana può legarsi anche scelta di includere la preminenza della figura della Maddalena, la prostituta pentita[5]. Il messaggio di Cristo sembra così dare i suoi primi frutti già appena dopo la Crocifissione, cone le prime conversioni spontanee, allargandosi poi idealmente nell’espansione della comunità credente attuata tramite gli Evangelisti, poi tramite la Chiesa e infine arrivando a Francesco, il “nuovo evangelista”[7], raffigurato ai piedi della croce[8].

Appare quindi un messaggio di speranza, che può riscattare anche chi ha errato, invece di condannarlo insindacabilmente[9].

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocifissione_del_transetto_sinistro

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com

 

 

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Mysteries

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa of the Mysteries

 

“Villa dei Misteri” redirects here. For the Pompeiian wine, see Villa dei Misteri (wine).

Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii seen from above

Location (top left) within Pompeii

A wall of the triclinium, traditionally interpreted to represent the stages of initiation to the cult

Fresco depicting a Bacchian rite

Fresco depicting the reading of the rituals of the bridal mysteries

The Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well-preserved suburban Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii, southern Italy, famous for the series of frescos in one room, which are usually thought to show the initiation of a young woman into a Greco-Roman mystery cult. These are now probably the best known of the relatively rare survivals of Ancient Roman painting. Like the rest of the Roman city of Pompeii, the villa was buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 and excavated from 1909 onwards (long after much of the main city). It is now a popular part of tourist visits to Pompeii, and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Pompeii.

Overview

Although covered with metres of ash and other volcanic material, the villa sustained only minor damage in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and the majority of its walls, ceilings, and most particularly its frescoes survived largely undamaged. Since its excavation the roofing and other parts of the house have been maintained as necessary.

The Villa is named for the paintings in one room of the residence. This space may have been a triclinium, and is decorated with very fine frescoes, believed to be painted in the early-middle 1st century.[1] Although the actual subject of the frescoes is hotly debated, the most common interpretation of the images is scenes of the initiation of a woman into a special cult of Dionysus, a mystery cult[2] that required specific rites and rituals to become a member. One of the defining features that help identify this as a Dionysian-related mural is the depiction of maenads. These devotees are often depicted dancing with swirling drapery and were found first on Greek pottery, many of which were made before the cult spread to Italy.[3] Of all other interpretations, the most notable is that of Paul Veyne, who believes that it depicts a young woman undergoing the rites of marriage.

Though often believed to be a triclinium, the room with the frescoes could have also been a cubiculum of the matriarch, which would indicate that the matriarch was a member of the cult.[4]

The Villa had both very fine rooms for dining and entertaining and more functional spaces. A wine-press was discovered when the Villa was excavated and has been restored in its original location. It was not uncommon for the homes of the very wealthy to include areas for the production of wine, olive oil, or other agricultural products, especially since many elite Romans owned farmland or orchards in the immediate vicinity of their villas.

The Villa may be easily accessed from Pompeii, lying some 400 metres northwest of the town walls, separated from it by a road with funerary monuments on either side. The Villa of the Mysteries was a suburban villa (Latin: villa suburbana) with a close relationship to the city but not of it.

The ownership of the Villa is unknown, as is the case with many private homes in the city of Pompeii. However, certain artifacts give tantalizing clues. A bronze seal found in the villa names L. Istacidius Zosimus, a freedman of the powerful Istacidii family. Scholars have proposed him as the owner of the Villa or overseer of reconstruction after the earthquake of 62. The presence of a statue of Livia, wife of Augustus, has caused some historians to instead declare her to have been the owner. There were many bodies found and about 2,000 people died.

As in other areas of Pompeii and Herculaneum, a number of bodies were found in this villa, and plaster-of-Paris casts were made of them.

Interpretation of the Frescoes

There are many different interpretations of the frescoes, but they are commonly believed to depict a religious rite. Another common theory is that the frescoes depict a bride initiating into the Dionysian Mysteries in preparation for marriage. In this hypothesis, the elaborate costume worn by the main figure is believed to be wedding apparel.[4]

Based on the subject matter and order of each fresco, they are intended to be read as a single narrative. Women and satyrs are featured prominently. Because of the widely accepted theory of the mural depicting an initiation from the cult of Dionysus, some think that the room with the frescoes was used to conduct rituals and celebrations related to the god.[4]

  • The first mural shows a noble Roman woman (possibly the initiate’s mother, who can cross no further) approaching a priestess or matron seated on a throne, by which stands a small boy reading a scroll – presumably the declaration of the initiation. On the other side of the throne the young initiate is shown in a purple robe and myrtle crown, holding a sprig of laurel and a tray of cakes. She appears to have been transformed into a serving girl, but may be bringing an offering to the god or goddess.[5]
  • The second mural depicts another priestess (or senior initiate) and her assistants preparing the liknon basket; at her feet are mysterious mushroom-shaped objects. At one side a sileni (a horse element) is playing a lyre. (Silenus was the tutor and companion of Dionysus.)[5]
  • The third mural shows a satyr playing the panpipes and a nymph suckling a goat, in an Arcadian scene. To their right, the initiate is in a panic. This is the last time we see her for a few scenes; when she appears again, she has changed. Some scholars think katabasis has occurred.[5]
  • In the direction to which she stares in horror, another mural shows a young satyr being offered a bowl of wine by Silenus while behind him, another satyr holds up a frightening mask which the drinking satyr sees reflected in the bowl (this may parallel the mirror into which young Dionysus stares in the Orphic rites). Next to them sits a goddess, (Ariadne or Semele), with Dionysus/Bacchus lying across her lap.[5]
  • The next mural shows the initiate returning. She now carries a staff and wears a cap, items often presented after the successful completion of an initiation ordeal. She kneels before the priestess, and appears to be whipped by a winged female figure. Next to her is a dancing figure (a Maenad or Thyiad) and a gowned figure with a thyrsus (an initiation symbol of Dionysus) made of long stalks of wrapped fennel, with a pine cone on top.[5]
  • In her penultimate appearance we see her being prepared with new clothes, while Eros holds up a mirror to her. After this scene, there is another image of Eros.[5]
  • Finally, the initiate is shown enthroned and in an elaborate costume. This is all we know of the Roman rites of initiation.[

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_of_the_Mysteries

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com

 

Giacobbe Giusti, Giotto Cruxifixion

Giacobbe Giusti, Giotto Cruxifixion

Scrovegni Chapel

Capella degli Scrovegni

Kiss of Judas, one of the panels in the Scrovegni Chapel.

The Scrovegni Chapel (Italian: Cappella degli Scrovegni”, also known as the Arena Chapel), is a church in Padua, Veneto, Italy. It contains a fresco cycle by Giotto, completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Western art. The nave is 20.88 metres long, 8.41 metres wide, and 12.65 metres high. The apse area is composed of a square area (4.49 meters deep and 4.31 meters wide) and a pentagonal area (2.57 meters deep).

Name

The church was dedicated to Santa Maria della Carità at the Feast of the Annunciation, 1303, and consecrated in 1305. Giotto’s fresco cycle focuses on the life of the Virgin Mary and celebrates her role in human salvation. A motet by Marchetto da Padova appears to have been composed for the dedication on 25 March 1305.[1] The chapel is also known as the Arena Chapel because it was built on land purchased by Enrico Scrovegni that abutted the site of a Roman arena. The space was where an open-air procession and sacred representation of the Annunciation to the Virgin had been played out for a generation before the chapel was built.

History

Building and decoration

The Arena Chapel was commissioned from Giotto by the affluent Paduan banker, Enrico Scrovegni. In the early 1300s Enrico purchased from Manfredo Dalesmanini the area on which the Roman arena had stood. Here he had his luxurious palace built, as well as a chapel annexed to it. The chapel’s project was twofold: to serve as the family’s private oratory and as a funerary monument for himself and his wife. Enrico commissioned Giotto, the famous Florentine painter, to decorate his chapel. Giotto had previously worked for the Franciscan friars in Assisi and Rimini, and had been in Padua for some time, working for the Basilica of Saint Anthony in the Sala del Capitolo and in the Blessings’s Chapel. A number of 14th-century sources (Riccobaldo Ferrarese, Francesco da Barberino, 1312-1313) testify to Giotto’s presence at the Arena Chapel’s site. The fresco cycle can be dated with a good approximation to a series of documentary testimonies: the purchase of the land took place on 6 February 1300; the bishop of Padua, Ottobono dei Razzi, authorised the building some time prior to 1302 (the date of his transferal to the Patriarcato of Aquileia); the chapel was first consecrated on 25 March 1303, the day of the Annunciation; on 1 March 1304 Pope Benedict XI granted an indulgence to whomever would have visited the Chapel; one year later on 25 March 1305 the chapel received its definitive consecration. Giotto’s work thus falls in the period from 25 March 1303 to 25 March 1305.

Interior of the chapel

Giotto painted the chapel’s inner surface following a comprehensive iconographic and decorative project which Giuliano Pisani identified in his book I volti segreti di Giotto. Le rivelazioni della Cappella degli Scrovegni (Rizzoli, 2008) as being the work of the Augustinian theologian, Friar Alberto da Padova. Among the sources utilized by Giotto following Friar Alberto’s advice are the Apocryphal Gospels of Pseudo-Matthew and Nicodemus, the Golden Legend (Legenda aurea) by Jacopo da Varazze (Jacobus a Varagine) and, for a few minute iconographic details, Pseudo-Bonaventura’s Meditations on the Life of Jesus Christ, as well as a number of Augustinian texts, such as De doctrina Christiana, De libero arbitrio, De Genesi contra Manicheos, De quantitate animae, and other texts from the Medieval Christian tradition, among which is the Phisiologus.[2]

Giotto, who was born around 1267, was 36–38 years old when he worked at Enrico Scrovegni’s chapel. He had a team of about 40 collaborators, and they calculated that 625 work days were necessary to paint the chapel. A “work day” meant that portion of each fresco that could be painted before the plaster dried and was no longer “fresh” (fresco in Italian ).

In January 1305, friars from the nearby Church of the Eremitani filed a complaint to their bishop, protesting that Scrovegni had not respected the original agreement. Scrovegni was transforming his private oratory into a church with a bell tower, thus producing unfair competition with the Eremitani’s activities. We do not know what happened next, but it is likely that, as a consequence of this complaint, the monumental apse and the wide transept were demolished. Both are visible on a model of the church painted by Giotto on the counter-facade (the Last Judgement). The apse was the section where Enrico Scrovegni had meant to have his tomb. The presence of frescoes dating to after 1320 supports the demolition hypothesis proposed by Giuliano Pisani. The apse, the most significant area in all churches, is where Enrico and his wife, Lacopina d’Este, were buried. This apse presents a narrowing of the space which gives a sense of its being incomplete and inharmonious. When one observes the lower frame of the triumphal arch, right above Saint Catherine of Alexandria’s small altar piece, one notices that Giotto’s perfect symmetry is altered by a fresco decoration representing two medallions with busts of female saints, a lunette with Christ in glory, and two episodes from the Passion (the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and the flogging of Jesus), which together give an overall sense of disharmony. The artist who painted these scenes also painted the greater part of the apse, an unknown artist called “The Master of the Scrovegni Choir” who worked at the Chapel about twenty years after Giotto’s work was completed. The main focus of the unknown artist’s work is constituted by six monumental scenes on the side walls of the chancel that depict the last period of Mary’s earthly life. This choice is in tune with the iconographic program inspired by Alberto da Padova and painted by Giotto.

Modern period

The chapel was originally connected with the Scrovegni palace, which was built on what remained of the foundations of the elliptical ancient Roman arena. The palace was demolished in 1827 in order to sell the precious materials it contained and to erect two condominiums in its place. The chapel was purchased by the Municipality of the City of Padua in 1881, a year after the City Council’s deliberation of 10 May 1880 leading to a decision to demolish the condominiums and restore the chapel. In June 2001, following a preparation study lasting over 20 years, the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (Central Institute for Restoration) of the Ministry for Cultural Activities, in collaboration with Padua’s Town Hall in its capacity of owner of the Arena Chapel, started a full-scale restoration of Giotto’s frescoes under the late Giuseppe Basile’s technical direction. In 2000 the consolidation and restoration of the external surfaces had been completed and the adjacent “Corpo Tecnologico Attrezzato” (CTA) had been installed. In this “equipped technological chamber” visitors wait for fifteen minutes to allow their body humidity to be lowered and any accompanying smog dust to be filtered out. In March 2002 the chapel was reopened to the public in its original splendor. A few problems remain unsolved, such as flooding in the crypt under the nave due to the presence of an underlying aquifer, and the negative effect on the building’s stability of the cement inserts that replaced the original wooden ones in the 1960s.

Errors recently confuted

Giuliano Pisani’s studies proved a number of commonly held beliefs concerning the chapel to be groundless, among them, the notion that Dante inspired Giotto. Another claim was that the theological program followed by Giotto is based on Saint Thomas, but it has proven to be wholly Augustinian. The conjecture that the Frati Gaudenti fraternity, of which Enrico Scrovegni was a member, influenced the content of Giotto’s fresco cycle has been proved wrong. Also disproved is the belief that Enrico Scrovegni required that the iconography program have no emphasis placed on the sin of usury. Giuliano Pisani pointed out that Dante’s condemnation of Scrovegni’s father, Reginaldo, as a usurer in Canto 17 of the Inferno dates to a few years after Giotto’s completion of the chapel, so it cannot be regarded as a motive behind any theological anxieties on the part of Enrico Scrovegni.

At a deeper level of analysis, a tenet of Giotto scholarship was for a long time the belief that Giotto had made a number of theological mistakes. For instance, Giotto placed Hope after Charity in the Virtues series, and did not include Avarice in the Vices series, due to the usual representation of Enrico Scrovegni as a usurer. Giuliano Pisani has proved that Giotto followed a precise and faultless theology based on Saint Augustine in a program which was devised by Friar Alberto da Padova. Giuliano Pisani’s discovery of the Augustinian inspiration for the frescoes with Friar Alberto da Padova as the intermediary shows that what used to be considered mistakes, whether intentional or not on Giotto and Enrico’s part, now appear to be elements of a perfectly balanced theological program. Avarice, far from being “absent” in Giotto’s cycle, is portrayed with Envy, forming with it a fundamental component of a more comprehensive sin. For this reason Envy is placed facing the virtue of Charity, to indicate that Charity is the exact opposite of Envy, and that in order to cure oneself of the sin of Envy one needs to learn from Charity. Charity crushes Envy’s money bag under her feet, while on the opposite wall red flames burn under Envy’s feet. [3]

The depiction of the sacred stories, and the message of the vault

Giotto frescoed the chapel’s whole surface, including the walls and the ceiling. The fresco cycle is organised along four tiers, each of which contains episodes from the stories of the various protagonists of the Sacred History. Each tier is divided into frames, each forming a scene. The chapel is asymmetrical in shape, with six windows on the longer south wall, and this shape determined the layout of the decoration. The first step was choosing to place two frames between each double window set on the south wall; secondly, the width and height of the tiers was fixed in order to calculate the same space on the opposite north wall.

The cycle recounts the story of salvation. It starts from high up on the lunette of the triumphal arch, when God the Father decides on reconciliation with humanity, entrusting the archangel Gabriel with the announcement of his decision to erase Adam’s sin with the sacrifice of His son. The narrative continues with the stories of Joachim and Anne (first tier from the top, south wall) and the stories of Mary (first tier from the top, north wall). After a return to the triumphal arch, the scenes of the Annunciation and the Visitation follow. The stories of Christ were placed on the middle tier of the south and north walls. The scene of Judas receiving the money to betray Jesus is on the triumphal arch. The lower tier of the south and north walls shows the Passion and Resurrection; the last frame on the north wall shows the Pentecost. The fourth tier begins at ground level with the monochromes of the Vices (north wall) and the Virtues (south wall). The west wall (counter-façade) presents the Last Judgment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrovegni_Chapel

http://www.giacobbeGiusti.com