Tuesday, May 11, 2021
ICMS session no. 102
Organizers and Chairs: Francesco Gangemi, Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani; Alison Locke Perchuk, California State University Channel Islands
Introduction: Alison Locke Perchuk & Francesco Gangemi
Testimonial: Elizabeth Teviotdale, Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University & Beth Mulvaney, Meredith College
"Romanesque Sculpture in Campania, Anno Domini 2021"
Questioning the established interpretative schemes and introducing new research questions, Dorothy F. Glass has revolutionized the study of Romanesque sculpture in Campania, actively contributing to map new artistic geographies and to re-consider the role of sculpture within the visual arts of the Italian Mezzogiorno. This paper will offer a tribute to Glass’ scholarship starting from her work on sculpture connected to monumental liturgical furnishings, thirty years after the publication of her fundamental book Romanesque Sculpture in Campania: Patrons, Programs, and Style (University Park, 1991).
"At the Garden Gate: Transforming Space at San Pietro al Monte in Civate"
In her article on the state of Italian Romanesque sculpture, Dorothy F. Glass called attention to the problem of interpreting liturgical furniture in Italy because most of it was dismantled long ago. In the case of the late-eleventh century Church of San Pietro al Monte in Civate (Lombardy), a recent restoration in 2015 has revealed that its sculpted parapets still stand in their original late-eleventh century position. Determining just how these balustrade panels originally functioned, however, remains more problematic. Instead of forming a low liturgical screen in front of the main altar and ciborium, three sculpted stucco panels frame the stairs to the crypt and two other panels form a sort of gateway entrance in the narthex. Lacking any useful liturgical sources from the medieval era, in this paper I explain how other methodological approaches to space, materiality, semiotics, and transcultural exchange led me to understand the function of these sculpted barriers at Civate as liminal thresholds to the garden of paradise.
"Lucignano's Reliquary Tree"
Created in two campaigns between 1350 and 1471 by the goldsmiths Ugolino da Vieri and Gabriello d’Antonio, the arboreal reliquary designed for San Francesco in Lucignano is one of the largest metalwork reliquaries ever made in Europe. Eight and a half feet tall, the tree towers over the viewer, its golden branches, pink coral, and illuminated crystal-covered medallions arching out into space. Despite its incredible size and craftsmanship, and its compelling iconography based in part on Bonaventure’s devotional text of the Tree of Life, Lucignano’s tree has been the subject of almost no scholarship, likely because of the many later additions and alterations to the work, and because Italian reliquaries tend to be neglected by scholars in comparison to northern-European examples. But the reliquary tree makes for a fascinating case study when thinking about the state of the field of medieval Italian sculpture. How and why have works of art in smaller towns like Lucignano, which is on few art historians’ research itineraries, been neglected in the scholarship? What is the role of scale in viewing and experiencing sculpted reliquaries? How do the various media used in the tree – coral, gold, parchment, silver, copper, relics – create a particular theological argument in relation to Bonaventure’s text and the bodies of the Franciscan saints contained inside? And how does the diagrammatic structure of the reliquary communicate with its viewers; what is its visual rhetoric? In my paper on this object (part of a book project on monumental diagrammatic imagery in the Trecento), I hope to introduce other scholars to this fascinating object, and to use it to problematize the role of reliquaries like one in the field of medieval Italian sculpture, exploring issues related to intermedial dialogue, scale, and visual communication.