Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Ornamental Paintings of the Venetian Renaissance
Authors: Rutherglen, Susannah Kathleen
Advisors: Brown, Patricia F
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines a group of Venetian Renaissance paintings created for domestic furniture and decorative settings, including chests, friezes, bedsteads, covers, doors, and musical instruments, among other types. While a tradition of painted furniture existed in the city as early as the thirteenth century, surviving examples from the mid-1460s to the later Cinquecento compose an integral genre with an established idiom that holds significance for the broader development of Venetian art. The typical decorative picture was a small panel or canvas illuminating an ancient legend, allegory, poetic reverie, or scene of everyday life; subjects such as landscape, the gods of classical mythology, the nude female figure, and rarely depicted episodes from religious writings recurred in this context. Giovanni Bellini was the first painter known to sign a work belonging to this local tradition, which continued through the time of Jacopo Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, and involved figures such as Cima da Conegliano, Vittore Carpaccio, Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto, Bonifacio de' Pitati, Titian, and Andrea Schiavone. Other examples were produced by associates within their workshops, and by epigones and independent painters working on speculation. Close examination of extant artifacts and documents assists in understanding the original settings of these pictures; the iconographic and stylistic relationships among them; the environments in which they were made and seen; and their later vicissitudes. In addition, this study explores the novel themes and techniques that found their way into canonical works of Venetian painting through the secondary vehicle of ornament, which offered a platform for artistic license and experimentation. The subjects, moods, and manner of decorative images anticipate and complement well-known poetic pictures and mythologies, such as Giorgione's Tempesta (ca. 1505-1508) and the bacchanals completed by Bellini and Titian between 1514 and 1529 for Alfonso d'Este of Ferrara. In turn, many furniture panels themselves were detached and framed as easel paintings during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Analysis of these overlapping types offers insight into the emergence of particular themes, styles, and formats in Venice and their importance to the history of Italian painting. The first chapter of the manuscript provides an introduction to this genre and explores its characteristic subjects and techniques, with an emphasis on early pictures of Bellini, Carpaccio, and Cima that set the tone for subsequent production in both ornamental and independent fields. The chapter also addresses workshop and guild practices that gave rise to decorative pictures; explains variations in quality through mechanisms of manufacture and the art market; and discusses contemporary accounts of the works' reputation and value. Such accounts are revealing in their negotiation of shifting aesthetic attitudes, and suggest the emergence of the framed easel picture as a standard for painting. The second chapter establishes a basic typology of Venetian domestic furniture pictures, and explores their relationships with objects for ecclesiastical and devotional use. Reconstructions of original cycles are made on the basis of stylistic and thematic continuities, documentary evidence, and on-site technical examination where possible. The third chapter explores patterns of taste and transformations undergone by these pieces over time, as well as their later provenance. The appended catalogue assembles a corpus of representative examples of Venetian ornamental painting, ca. 1465-1570, and discusses their iconography, composition, technique, and other issues. The primary aims of the catalogue are to reconstitute various ensembles, in some cases involving multiple component pictures that have not been considered together before, and to facilitate future, synthetic study of this under-explored genre of Venetian painting.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Rutherglen_princeton_0181D_10152.pdf12.77 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.