82 (2019), Issue 1

Essays

Fabio Massaccesi (Università di Bologna, Italien): Per Ravenna trecentesca: nuove proposte per l’assetto architettonico di Santa Maria in Porto Fuori

This contribution intends to draw attention to one of the most significant monuments of medieval Ravenna: the church of Santa Maria in Porto Fuori, which was destroyed during the Second World War. Until now, scholars have focused on the pictorial cycle known through photographs and attributed to the painter Pietro da Rimini. However, the architecture of the building has not been the subject of systematic studies. For the first time, this essay reconstructs the fourteenth-century architectural structure of the church, the apse of which was rebuilt by 1314. The data that led to the virtual restitution of the choir and the related rood screen are the basis for new reflections on the accesses to the apse area, on the pilgrimage flows, and on the view of the frescoes.

Otfried Garbe (Berlin, Deutschland): Die fünfteilige Schöpfungsgeschichte Michelangelos und Platons Timaios

Michelangelo based the design of the architectural frame of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on an underdrawing in a watercolor by Piermatteo d’Amelia, but he chose to subdivide it into nine bays. He then depicted the biblical story of Creation in five, rather than six, pictorial fields and made references to the number five in the fresco. This structure was intended to allude to the five Platonic bodies, which are a further development of the four elements and, according to Plato, explain the creation of the world. In the views of Augustine and of Christian Neoplatonists, there are close similarities between the creation story and the creation process as described in Plato’s Timaeus. They believed that Plato had imitated the story of Genesis. The remaining four panels would then symbolize the history of the human race and the classic four elements.

Jahel Sanzsalazar (Antwerpen, Belgien): I am Cleopatra: The Seduction and Stoicism of a newly identified painting by Matthäus Merian the Younger (1621 – 1687)

A previously anonymous Death of Cleopatra is here attributed to the Basel-born painter Matthaus Merian the Younger. Besides crucial stylistic connections with his known works, further evidence is given by a signed engraving, which was never associated with any known painting. The print is inscribed with a poem and a dedication to his patron Baron Septimus Jorger von Tollet. Word and image summarize the fascination and criticism that Cleopatra has aroused since antiquity. Presenting a warning against the power of her seduction while exhibiting her stoic death by virtue of the constancy of her love for Mark Antony, they respond to Merian’s adherence to the principles of Neostoicism. Merian creates a remarkably original Cleopatra that provides a key for future identifications of this lesser-known facet of his oeuvre.

Marika Takanishi Knowles (University of St Andrews, Großbritannien): Tricky, Fine, and Trapped: Painting the Femme Forte in Early Seventeenth-Century France

Between the late 1620s and late 1640s, Jacques Blanchard, Simon Vouet, and Claude Vignon all painted the femme forte (strong woman), an exemplary, heroic femal type whose popularity was linked to the presence of Marie de Medici and Anne of Austria on the royal stage of France. This article puts early seventeenth-century French paintings of femmes fortes into conversation with period discourse regarding the reception of paintings and the status of women. Pictorial representation tended to cast the femme forte into contexts that compromised her exemplary status. Nude, on the verge of death by her own hand, the figure of the femme forte invited the very kind of sensual consumption that the femme forte herself attempted to disavow. Yet the ultimate threat posed by the femme forte was that her image might ‘trick’ male viewers into unwise actions.

Fabian Heffermehl (Universitetet i Oslo, Norwegen): Kuss eines Zyklopen. Die umgekehrte Perspektive Florenskis zwischen Kultbild und Kunstbild

With his Reverse Perspective (1919) the Armeno-Russian theologian and mathematician Pavel Florensky denounced the monocular, ‘cyclopean’ vision otherwise seen as the main principle in Renaissance painting. Florensky connected the medieval icon with an ‘organic idea’ involving 1) binocular vision, 2) the observer’s movement in pictorial space, and 3) tactile proximity between observer and image. This article explores how ideas of perception relate to Florensky’s cultural criticism. His reverse perspective emerges as a complex controversy, not only between two principles in painting – the icon and the linear perspective. Florensky also challenges himself as a westernized intellectual, who, rooted in Orientalism, fails to defend a Russian Orthodox worldview.


Book reviews

Mitchell B. Merback, Perfection’s therapy: An essay on Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I (Michael Ann Holly, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Mass., USA)

Anja Weisenseel, Bildbetrachtung in Bewegung. Der Rezipient in Texten und Bildern zur Pariser Salonausstellung des 18. Jahrhunderts (Ars et Scientia, Bd. 14) (Britta Hochkirchen, Universität Bielefeld, Deutschland)