CHANGING PATRONS. SOCIAL IDENTITY AND THE VISUAL ARTS IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE

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  • and Roberts reputation alive, at a timewhen his work was still often woefullyundervalued.

    How much undervalued becomes clearas one turns this books pages, for here,unquestionably, is as extensive a majorretrospective exhibition as any never seenon a gallerys walls. Most of Roberts keyworks are reproduced, in excellent colour,coupled with a commentary in whichpervasive enthusiasm is coupled withrestraint. As a collection of great images,it is an objective lesson, shaming theavoirdupois and intellectual obesity ofsome recent, weightier monographs fromother publishers. The books only majorfault lies in its diminutive, eye-cringingtypesetting, which is a serious flaw. Thewords ship, spoil, tar and haporthare entirely appropriate. If you are notdeterred, William Roberts: An English Cubistis a well-argued, and well-deserved, post-

    humous come-back for a truly greatdraughtsman-painter; an excellent read,and as much a view of the importanceof the Roberts family as of its key player,his life and lifes work. Welcome back,William, wherever you were.

    julian freemanSussex Downs College

    CHANGING PATRONS. SOCIAL

    IDENTITY AND THE VISUAL ARTS

    IN RENAISSANCE FLORENCE

    jill burke

    Penn State University Press 2004 d40.95 $55.00280 pp. 63 mono illusisbn 0-271-02362-7UK dist. Eurospan, London

    While primarily concerned withthe fortunes of two Florentinefamilies, the Nasi and the DelPugliese, in the fifteenth century, Burkesstudy actually uses these case studies inorder to examine the mechanics of art

    patronage itself. She challenges the viewthat patronage necessarily means a high-ly personalised and creative exchangebetween an artist and his patron whichresults in art works of a bespokecharacter that fit into a singular context.Instead, Burke proposes a more dynamicdefinition of the role of the patron, whereart works are determined by a variety offactors other than aesthetic preferencesand financial considerations (such asinstitutional context, for example), andwhere the resulting works are open tomultiple interpretations fromquite diverseaudiences. In fact, patronage of objects fordisplay (ranging from architecture andpaintings to candlesticks and dress) ishere examined as part of a process ofself-fashioning of the patron and of his orher assumption of a highly visible publicpersona expressed through visual means.This also implies, of course, the possibilityof assuming different personae, or roles,for the patron, each one of which mightrequire a dramatic change of stylisticexpectations from the artist patronised.Burke herself proposes that a patronsoeuvre needs to be considered as onewhere change and continuity co-existed.

    The structure of this study falls intothree parts. The first part is concernedwith Family, neighbours and friends, anddiscussion focuses here on mechanismsof self-fashioning for Florentine familiesthrough visual means and through theirsocial networks. Burke examines thestrategies of display employed by boththe Nasi and Del Pugliese families inconstructing or buying their respectivefamily palaces as a means of establishinga visible base of operation for theselineages. An aside on magnificence thenallows for a consideration of expenditurein the context of patronage of religiousarchitecture and furnishings, which dis-course is placed in the wider context ofthe role played by churches as markers ofa broader neighbourhood and civic identityin the urban environment of RenaissanceFlorence. In fact, the social networksmediated and visualised through patron-age of religious spaces form the focus ofthe second part of this study, where Burkeconsiders the relationship between Theindividual, the family and the church.Case studies in this part of the studyinclude Santa Maria a Lecceto and thechurch of the Ospedale degli Innocenti,which allow for a consideration of theimportance of the institutional context

    William Roberts,RushHour, 1971,oil on canvas,private collection.

    66 The ArtBook volume 12 issue 4 november 2005 r bpl/aah

    Books in Brief

  • for images. The final part of this study,Identity and change, looks particularly atthe impact Fra Girolamo Savonarolascompelling sermons had on developmentsin Florentine art of the late Quattrocento.Burke goes to great lengths to placeSavonarolas pronouncements in the con-text of earlier debates on the correct andincorrect uses of wealth hence her veryuseful discussion of magnificence inanother part of the book.

    Her key argument of placing patron-age in the context of discussions onRenaissance identities raises interestingquestions about the fashioning of multi-ple identities for Renaissance patrons.Burkes lucidly argued and well researchedstudy proves to be a thought-provokingread whose significance goes well be-yond a circle of readers interested inthe study of patronage in QuattrocentoFlorence.

    gabriele neherUniversity of Nottingham

    PATRICK HAYMAN

    VISIONARY ARTIST

    mel gooding

    Belgrave Gallery, London 2005 d29.9596 pp. 86 col/13 mono illusisbn 0-906647-08-8

    Though London-based for much ofhis life and partly raised in NewZealand, where he started to paint,Patrick Hayman is intimately connectedwith St Ives, the celebrated Cornish artcolony that he first encountered onChristmas Day 1950 while on honeymoonin Mevagissey. He lived in St Ives for twoyear-long spells, one in 1952 the other inthe mid-1960s. Malvern-educated and en-sconced in comfortable suburbia for mostof his life, Hayman gravitated to his like inSt Ives, where he enjoyed friendships withPeter Lanyon and Patrick Heron, both ofwhom wrote catalogues for crucial earlyHayman exhibitions.

    Haymans work diverged from theirswhile he shared with Lanyon an interest inAlfred Wallis. His work was as figurativeas it was inimitable, displaying a stylisticaccord with art-historically disparatethough strangely compatible figures suchas Wallis, the Brucke painters, Rouault,Chagall, Adler and Munch, as well as withthe new age spiritual symbolism of ourown Cecil Collins.

    Haymans work, which contained richautobiographic threads, drew on universalthemes taken from personal or collectivememory, legend and political history. Adeep melancholia, characteristic of theperipatetic Jew, haunted his work. Hay-man was more than melancholic, how-ever; he was positively depressive and artprovided creative redemption. His asso-ciation with the underdog, the victim-ised, the neglected or the wounded heroextended into real life, and between 1958and 1963 he sought to help the causeof poets and struggling artists througheditorship of his influential magazine, ThePainter and Sculptor, a publication thatbecame something of an antidote to thesecular formalism of contemporary ab-straction.

    The critic Mel Gooding lived nearHayman in Barnes, London and so hisnew book, the final word on this idiosyn-cratic but never isolated artist, containsa kind of intimate familiarity that alsocharacterises his previous books on Gil-lian Ayres (a one-time Barnes neighbour)and Ceri Richards (a father-in-law).Good-ings wordy and enthusiastically eulogis-ing tone, which is a cloying feature attimes in monographs on these and onHeron, Hoyland and Fedden, is thankfullyabsent here and replaced with a lucid andjudicious biographic commentary.Thoughfar from neglected or little known, Hay-man is less of an art world star and assuch brings out the best in Gooding, whoproceeds to promote and evaluate theartist in a sympathetic and level way.

    Goodings book is the culminationof previous and partial accounts such asthe Louise Hallett Gallerys book PaintedPoems (1988) and Philip Vanns longcatalogue essay for the South Bank tour-ing exhibition The Voyage of Discovery(1990). Goodings Prologue deals with thecrucial link between Haymans verse,which has the downbeat emotional tenorof Leonard Cohen, and painting that singswith colour of a rich, even uplifting, hue.These Blake-influenced painted poems areseamless expressions of his imaginativeuniverse. In the Afterword, the authorweaves his own words around the in-explicable visual poetry of a visionaryartist whose work, with its rough-smudged painterliness and misshapenstyle, defies easy categorisation. Whatdoes stand out in the paintings, collagesand constructions, however, is an inten-sely symbolic, even archetypal set of

    images, in both two and three dimen-sions, that transform individual into uni-versal experience.

    peter daviesArtist and author

    THE LIVING IMAGE IN

    RENAISSANCE ART

    fredrika h jacobs

    Cambridge University Press 2005 d55.00 $80.00267pp 8 col / 62 mono illusisbn 0-521-82159-2

    In this fascinating book, Jacobs sets outto provide answers to the questionHow did an artist breathe life intoinanimate materials pigment, stone,bronze transforming them into a liv-ing presence? The book consists of anintroduction and five separate but con-nected essays followed by a postscript. Itincludes many well chosen illustrations.

    The introduction is a brief examinationof the linguistic basis of the concept of lifein art, cleverly linked to a discussion onthe changes taking place in medicine, andparticularly anatomy.

    The first essay establishes the six-teenth-century critical frame in whichwords and phrases connoting life and life-likeness function as reliable guides inestablishing contextual meaning. UsingOvids Metamorphoses to provide the struc-ture, Jacobs examines how the artist isfiguratively transforming pigment intoanother form. It also introduces the non-specialist to the relatively unknown holymountain in the Valsesia near Lake Mag-giore. Here the faithful could follow thelife of Jesus. When life-sized figures wereadded in the early sixteenth century, pil-grims could come close to representationsof the gospel figures that to the unsophis-ticated would seem immensely real.

    In Chapter 3 we are invited to considerthe impact of Michelangelo on the crea-tion and organisation of the AcademiaFiorentina and how his ideas on dissectionin particular were taken up and included inthe training of the academicians. Jacobsuses the decoration of the catafalque forMichelangelos funeral and in particularthe depiction of the satyr Marsyas as afocus of her interpretation of the impact ofanatomy, the Medici gardens, disegno anddissection had onMichelangelo and henceon the Academia. This chapter includessome fascinating but, to todays mind,

    volume 12 issue 4 november 2005 r bpl/aah The ArtBook 67

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