Organizers: Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, University of Vermont and Ilaria Andreoli, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris
Respondents: Sheryl Reiss, Independent Scholar and Tracy E. Cooper, Temple University
“Cultural and Architectural Syncretism in Quattrocento Rome: Patronage of a Venetian Cardinal, Marco Barbo (1420-1491)”
This research is aimed to identify the specific character of Marco Barbo’s artistic and architectural patronage in the Fifteenth-century Roman scenario, considering it in the light of his cultural profile. Apart from fostering the spread of the Benedictine Reform in the monasteries administered in commendam, he was also one of the most illustrious upholders of a synthesis between Latin and Greek Humanism, whose effects on the formal outcomes of the works he promoted have still to be fully estimated. A key factor to analyze the stylistic pluralism of his artistic and architectural interventions is represented by his Venetian origin, considered not just as a cultural background, but notably as a theoretical premise for the coexistence of all’antica solutions with elements belonging to different traditions.
“When Faith meets Philosophy and Politics: Girolamo Donato at Santa Maria dei Servi in Venice"
The name of Girolamo Donato is familiar to scholars in Renaissance Venetian history and culture. A number of studies, especially biographies, have delineated the persona of Girolamo as that of a prominent diplomat, a renowned humanist, and an avid collector of antiquities. My paper examines what is less known about Girolamo Donato: his role as a patron of the arts in the mother church of the Servite order in Venice. While focusing on his major commission for the Servites, namely Andrea Riccio’s altar of the True Cross and the screen on which it stood, I explore Girolamo’s involvement in the creation of two other major works once in Santa Maria dei Servi: Tullio Lombardo’s Vendramin Tomb and Giovanni Bellini’s Lamentation. All these works are re-examined in light of Girolamo’s relationship with notable figures close to the Servite community and in connection with his philosophical and religious thought.
“Imperial Self-Fashioning and Anti-Ottoman Alliance: Persian Gifts and Embassies in Early Modern Venetian Visual Culture”
In the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Turks (1453), the Muslim King of Persia forged a military alliance with the Republic of Venice against the Turks. These enduring Venetian-Persian relations resulted in complex reciprocal diplomatic and cultural exchanges fostered through the establishment of diplomatic embassies and the exchange of gifts. In my paper, I look at a Persian gift of a Turquoise Glass Bowl embellished with Byzantine gold cloisonné enamels, now in the Treasury of San Marco, and a visual representation of Doge Grimani receiving gifts from a Persian embassy by Gabriele Caliari, in the Ducal Palace. By turning attention to the hybrid visual and material culture of the Turquoise Bowl, I investigate how this gift facilitated the intercultural diplomatic negotiations. Whereas, in Venetian commissions, such as Caliari’s, I assess how those visual representations revealed much about the perception of cultural difference in early modern courts.
“Cittadini Artistic Patronage within the Scuole Grandi in the Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Venice”
This paper examines the contribution of artistic patronage within confraternities to the definition and development of civic identity in early modern Venice. In Venice, the main leadership roles in the six major confraternities (scuole grandi) were held exclusively by members of a middling social group, the cittadini. This study shows how artistic patronage was a tool used by cittadini to construct both individual and family identity, as well as a way to preserve their memory through time. Cittadini made use of individual and collective portraits, coats of arms, and inscriptions within the Venetian confraternities. Such artistic patronage and production reflected the significance of cittadini in the management of these confraternities, and therefore their prominence in front of the city. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach that crosses history and history of art, I argue that cittadini used the scuole grandi as privileged “artistic” spaces to obtain social recognition within Venetian society.