New Directions in Representation of the Italian Landscape III: Displaying and Viewing the Landscape

Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 3, 3rd Floor – Magazine Room
Friday, March 23, 2018, 4:00-5:30 pm

Organizers: Sarah B. Cantor, University of Maryland, University College and Melissa Yuen, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Chair: Mirka Benes, University of Texas at Austin

Respondent : Sarah Cantor, University of Maryland, University College

Images of the Italian landscape, both real and imagined, have been the subject of many fruitful investigations, from research on broad trends and refined definitions to focused monographs on individual artists. Recent studies have shed new light on the display of landscape paintings in palaces and villas, artistic practice, professional networks, and the intersections between antiquity and natural history. In particular, research into the growing interest in empirical study and the interpretation of nature in early modern Italy has led to a greater understanding of representations of the natural world. The papers in the three panels build on these themes and present new ways to reconsider the portrayal of the landscape and landscape artists working in Italy.


Geoff Lehmann, Bard College, Berlin
"Leonardo, Van Eyck, and the Epistemology of Landscape"

The young Leonardo’s Arno valley drawing, dated “5 daghossto 1473,” proclaims a relationship to the temporal and the topographical, and yet its clearest point of reference is pictorial: the Eyckian perspectival landscape type that predominated in Florentine workshop practice. Leonardo, however, transforms Van Eyck’s synoptic vision of landscape, with all its epistemological implications (vision as desire for knowledge), into a means of exploring dynamic processes and the geometry of natural laws. In later drawings, such as the Deluge series, this perspectival model of landscape provides the mathematical and theoretical underpinning for Leonardo’s dynamic vision of natural structure, where his fluid drawing articulates the movements of clouds, air, and water as a continuum of interlocking forces and elements. But for Leonardo, perspective’s rectilinear commensurability is no longer adequate to a depiction of landscape moving towards genuine scientific inquiry, which demands a new geometry, that of the spiral and the helix.

Natsumi Nonaka, Illinois State University
"Toeput, Verdant Architecture, and Tripartite Chorography"

This paper seeks to resurrect interest in Lodewijk Toeput, who achieved a synthesis of the Flemish portrayal of nature and the Italian villa tradition, and to anchor his contribution to landscape representation in early modern Italy. Two distinct features in Italian villa culture are observed in his works: the use of verdant architecture as mediating structures and boundaries; and the perceptual logic of tripartite chorography formulated as a mental map in three divisions. Shifting from the world landscape tradition to an approach that directly engaged with Italian villa and garden discourse, Toeput exemplified one aspect of the duality in Italian villa culture, namely the formal garden with axial layout and regularly designed plantings and water features that flourished in the cinquecento. His contemporary Paul Bril exemplified the other aspect, the naturalistic landscape that developed alongside the formal garden and gained popularity in painting and villa designs in the seicento.

Melissa Yuen, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
"The Economics and Display of Mattia Preti’s Landscape Experiments"

During the late 1630s, Mattia Preti painted a number of mythological and biblical subjects set in lush landscapes, including Triumph of Silenus (Tours), Bacchanal (Miami and Florence), and Moses on Mount Sinai (Montpellier). These canvases not only represent Preti’s emulation of Titian’s paintings of similar subjects but also are a radical departure from his earlier Caravaggesque scenes to the point where these canvases appear as if executed by another hand and represent the Calabrian’s first and only experiments in the genre. This paper considers the significance of Preti’s attempt in this category of painting. First, the economics of Preti as a landscape painter vis-à-vis him as a Caravaggesque painter will be addressed. Then, a hypothesis for the display of these paintings will be proposed. In sum, this paper presents the first sustained examination of Preti’s landscapes in order to contextualize his experiments within the genre of landscape paintings.

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