Table of Contents
June 2015, Volume 97 Number 2
Who built S. Lorenzo in Florence? Was it the first Renaissance church, or merely a classical veneer on a medieval brick structure? Was Filippo Brunelleschi its founding architect, or did he share the credit with Matteo Dolfini, the church prior? Were the founding patrons the Medici, or rather the prior and the church community? Is the chapter on S. Lorenzo in the vita of Brunelleschi by Antonio Manetti by and large an accurate historical source, or is it politically motivated narrative that has befuddled art historians from Vasari to the present? Read on.
Anthony van Dyck’s early paintings of Saint Sebastian allowed the painter to propose an analogy between the martyrdom of the saint and the practice of posing models in the studio. He used disguised self-portraiture to identify not with the artist but, rather, with the model. On the one hand, Van Dyck’s Sebastian paintings declare the young painter’s commitment to life study. On the other, his self-depiction as both martyr and model allowed him to allegorize his specific position within the studio of Peter Paul Rubens.
Enlightenment writers proposed the existence of an animal soul, refuting the Cartesian beast-machine. Arguments credit the caresses of a dog to its master as direct visual evidence of the capacity of an animal to feel and show emotion. A focus on paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard sets the Rococo representation of lapdogs within the context of changing ideas about the relationship between animal and human. Eroticized images of lapdogs are related to radical materialist theories that assert the role of physical pleasure in human motivation.
In 1907 the Franco-Swiss artist Félix Vallotton wrote La vie meurtrière (The Murderous Life), a mock-autobiographical novel with striking tropological connections to his fin-de-siècle prints. An examination of those connections reveals that Vallotton developed a unique visual language in both image and text for the relation between sight and social responsibility. The Paris crowd scenes that first established his artistic reputation attest to the largely unrecognized significance of the gawker (le badaud) as a modern type, a figure for the attractions and fraught ethics of urban spectatorship that is distinct from the far more studied flâneur.