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Jeniffer Harrison 2 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Fra Girolamo Savonarola, was a Dominican Friar who rose to power in the late 1400’s
and significantly influenced politics, religion, and art in Florence, Italy. To art historians there is much speculation concerning the specific effect of Savonarola on the artists in Florence during his power over the Florentine religion, politics, and art in Florence’s late 1400s and early 1500s. Due to the Savonarolan influence it is alleged that Allesandro Botticelli transformed his once Renaissance Humanitarian philosophies in his artwork toward a more Savonarolan iconography. Full investigation of Savonarola’s influence on each individual artist of his time would be outside the scope of this paper’s purpose. The purpose of this paper will be limited to Alessandro Botticelli’s iconography in the Mystic Nativity and the Mystic Crucifixion as they relate to Savonarolan iconography, sermons, and teachings as well as some of the iconography and artwork of Botticelli prior to Savonarola’s influence in works such as the Calumny of Apelles, Primavera, and the Birth of Venus. During the late Quattrocento, Allesandro Botticelli created the tempera on canvas Mystic Nativity, (Figure 1), as well as the tempera and oil on canvas Mystic Crucifixion, (Figure 2), in Savonarola’s Florence. Throughout history several elucidations of the iconography included of these two paintings have arisen; the popular explanations deviate principally between two philosophies. Rab Hatfield, PhD a trained professor from Harvard and Professor at Yale for five years who eventually became the head the Art History Department at Syracuse University in Florence with a primary focus on Renaissance art. Hatfield has significant expertise and insight to the work of Botticelli as evidenced in his article, Botticelli’s Mystic
Jeniffer Harrison 3 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Nativity, Savonarola and The Millennium. Hatfield, among others investigates the first school, which is confidently convinced that Savonarola had a significant bearing on Botticelli’s career in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s, particularly the Mystic Crucifixion and the Mystic Nativity. A dissimilar school considers that the iconography of Botticelli’s later work is consistent with other iconography of Florentine artwork during Botticelli’s paintings timeframe. (Hatfield) The Mystic Nativity is canvas with a tempera medium, 108.6 x 74.9 cm in dimension and resides in London at the National Gallery (National Gallery London) and The Mystic Crucifixion measuring 73 x 51 cm, which is housed in the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 74). Lauro Matrines, whose decades of Italian Renaissance scholarship provide a unique perspective about Savonarola in Fire In The City is consulted to gain a better appreciation for the Dominican Friar. In order to further narrow the scope of the study, a concentration of the years 1491 – 1498 BCE are included as a primary focal point of the paper as those were the time when “Savonarola’s life and the history of Florence were so joined together that it is impossible to pull them apart (Martines 5). “ Understanding the influence on Allesandro Botticelli by Girolamo Savonarola requires some understanding of Savonarola and the Dominican Order. Savonarola was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1452 and joined the Dominicans in Bologna, Italy in 1475. William A. Hinnebusch, O.P., D.Ph. (Oxon.), provides a detailed account of the Dominican History. Hinnebusch has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford, was a Professor of history at Providence College, and has spend many years doing research at the Historical Institute of the Dominican Order in Rome in order to write many articles, encyclopedia contributions, and journal articles
Jeniffer Harrison 4 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 on the Dominican Order. According to Hinnebusch, the establishment of the Dominican Order was founded out of Saint Dominic’s dissatisfaction with his own aspiration to preach to non‐ Christians and convert them to Christianity. Through many letters written both to and from St. Dominic a careful chronicling of the groundwork of the principles and theology of the Dominican zeal was revealed. The recurring theme of zealots and religious zeal rings true from the inception of the Dominican Order throughout much of their history including the 15th Century in Italy. Savonarola was considered to be a ‘penance preacher’ and stressed the need for reformation of the Catholic Church, restoration of morality, and a need to purge the corruption of the Pope (Hinnebusch). Savonarola, an impassioned Dominican Friar, quickly gained recognition for his apocalyptic and prophetic preaching style in Northern Italy. Savonarola went to Florence in 1491 at the summoning of Lorenzo the Magnificent and was named the Prior of San Marco ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 50). According to A. Hyatt Mayor, Curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Savonarola’s influence over the Florentine citizens and political arena was extreme considering the Friar had not lived in Florence until his thirties. Savonarola’s thirteen years in Florence were to have a significant impact on the arts and politics of Florence, primarily due to Savonarola’s understanding of the arts as a political force (Mayor 66). Savonarola’s preaching against all forms of luxuries would lead to the infamous ‘Bonfires of the Vanities’, which destroyed works of art, sheets of music, literary works, clothing, jewelry, and any other item deemed a luxury ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 50). Ironically and sadly, the ‘Bonfires of the Vanities’ included ‘worldly’ works of Botticelli (Mayor 68). Florence, feeling the threat of invasion from Charles
Jeniffer Harrison 5 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 VIII of France, believed that Savonarola’s prophecies of the destruction of Florence, their world, was about to come true and thereby leaving room for Savonarola to take up an unofficial power after Piero dei Medici was exiled from Florence. ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 50‐51) Savonarola would spend much of his time in the pulpit casting the Christian beliefs into the faces of the self‐professed Christians. A minority of scholars believe that Savonarola’s preaching’s carried a Humanistic thread through out them in that he believed in and preached about man’s dignity and the reconciliation promised through God as well as the potential of humans. The Renaissance Humanistic similarities end there and Savonarola confronted his listeners repeatedly on the abuse of their potential. Dr. Marcia Brown Hall, PhD of Renaissance History from Harvard University notes in one of her many research studies a disparity between what Savonarola preached and what he is remembered as preaching is likely due in part to his failure to find an appropriate format for his content. Hall additionally notes that his failure to move past his didactic framework of preaching which typically drove him to scolding his listeners was not fully working with the content he may have intended to teach. (Hall 494‐495) Savonarola continued to control Florentine politics, arts, and citizens with his apocalyptic and prophetic sermons for nearly thirteen years. After repeated defiance’s of the Catholic Church and the Pope himself, the Pope had him charged and convicted of heresy in May 1498. Savonarola was hung with his two closest collaborators in the Florentine square. The papacy did not wish to leave any of their remains to be used for relics so they engulfed the bodies with flames, swept up the ashes and disposed of them into the river, thus insuring that no relics could be tied to miracles, hence making a martyr and saint out of Savonarola. (Martines 3‐4; 6)
Jeniffer Harrison 6 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Dr. Charles Dempsey, PhD, Professor of Art History at John’s Hopkins University and noted Art Historian points out that Savonarola increased his exceptionally apocalyptic preaching during the end of the Quattrocento, which repeatedly condemned the patrons of the arts, artists, patrons, and artwork in Florence portraying the Virgin Mary, Christ, and Saints as wealthy and elite thereby forewarning the penalty for Florence during the apocalypse for its transgressions and additionally warn the congregation of the imminent apocalypse (Dempsey). Savonarola notoriously addressed many church members, specifically the patrons of the arts during his sermons to remind them that Christ was born into poverty and by representing the religious figures in the luxurious finery of the patrons of the art was to make Mary into a whore (Martines 6‐7; Hall 494). Savonarola in a fictional dialogue from the pulpit said that ‘all that finery is for the honour of men, and first of all the patrons, a rich merchant and a bishop who live only to please their senses’. This statement was prophetic in and of itself in that it captured the disagreements of the fundamental attitudes between the followers of Savonarola and his enemies (Martines 6‐7). The apparent impact of Savonarola’s sermons was prominent in the manner and subject matters of Botticelli’s artwork during this time frame (Dempsey). During the period of this influence, it should be noted that Savonarola was not an iconoclast as he believed in artwork which had nothing superfluous added which would detract from the religious content and his primary concern with the state of art at the time is believed by Hall to be his disapproval for the intent of the rich, not the works themselves (Hall 497). Botticelli, initially inspired by the ‘Renaissance Humanistic Conceptions’ and the Medici, epitomized the maturity of the ‘Humanistic Conception’ as told by an influential Florentine
Jeniffer Harrison 7 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 writer and Renaissance Humanist Polymath, Leon Battista Alberti. The Humanistic influence, in turn had a direct correlation to the art commissioned by the powerful Medici family. The early Quattrocento Florence was a time for Botticelli to progressively integrated traits of a country motif along with prior examination of Classical examples. Unification of these techniques is apparent in Botticelli’s “supple contours and the contrapposto poses, graceful proportions, and balanced, natural movement of his figures, which respond to an invisible yet palpable rule of harmonic number” (Dempsey). Additionally, as a result Botticelli continued to combine the Renaissance Humanistic culture into his artwork support from the powerful Medici family. The end product of this mixture was first evident in Primavera, (Figure 3), and attained a pinnacle of success in the Birth of Venus, (Figure 4), (Dempsey). Botticelli profited financially in his earlier career primarily via commissions administered by the Pope, the Catholic Church, and the Medici Family. Later influence on Botticelli resulted primarily from religion according to Savonarola rather than religion according to Pope Alexander VI and the Catholic Church. At the end of the Quattrocento, “there is a deeper crisis of style and expression discernible in Botticelli’s later works, beginning with the Calumny of Apelles, (Figure 5), and reaching a peak in such paintings as the Mystic Nativity” as well as with the painting Mystic Crucifixion (Dempsey). These paintings convey Botticelli’s progressive rejection of courtly style exhibited in his beginning work toward a more retrospective method of artwork. The later paintings in question contain artistic embellishment only for the deliberate purpose of enhancing the story line (Dempsey). The Mystic Crucifixion and The Mystic Nativity are significant paintings portraying the artist’s later religious and philosophical influences, which
Jeniffer Harrison 8 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 coincided with his momentous departure from the Renaissance Humanistic Iconography toward a more Savonarolan Iconography. Many factors are likely to have contributed to the development of Allesandro Botticelli’s artistic pursuits. Some of the factors included training, artistic guidance; Renaissance Humanistic philosophies; his patronage of the Medici Family; and Savonarola’s influence over Florence (Dempsy). Observable effects of these and other factors on Botticelli are expected, as people mature and grow personally and professionally via experiences and environment. Although scholars in the past often‐denied Savonarola’s influence on Botticelli, it is evident in Botticelli’s last paintings specifically the Mystic Nativity and the Mystic Crucifixion, which contained religious matter included visionary and apocalyptic essentials that he expressed allegorically were in line with the sermon style of Savonarola ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 74). Therefore, it is additionally evident that Botticelli put into paint what Savonarola put into words during his preaching as revealed by the Savonarolan iconography contained within the Mystic Nativity and the Mystic Crucifixion. These same paintings convey a broad disposition of religious fanaticism in Florence due to the Savonarolan power. Botticelli’s dilemma, which was essentially personal in nature most likely influenced his artistic representations and his pictorial style, was based primarily in the contrasting worlds of his early years of the Renaissance Humanitarianism culture and his later years exposed to the reforming ascetic of Savonarola’s Iconography, who utilized Christianity as a guide to a rational civic and political loyalty ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 74‐76).
Jeniffer Harrison 9 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 During the later portion of the Cinquecento, Savonarola utilized his theme of resolve by divine merit as propaganda for Florence’s political and social reformation. The dynamic sermon delivery style of Savonarola quickly impacted several Florentine artists including Botticelli. Savonarolan theories about Florence as well as their apparent sway on Allesandro Botticelli were definitively apparent in the Mystic Crucifixion and Mystic Nativity. Iconography in Botticelli’s Nativity and Crucifixion can be primarily related to the teachings, preaching, sermons, and persuasion of the Dominican Friar (Hatfield 110). The iconography of the Nativity and Crucifixion portrayals should be considered not as a literal depiction, but instead as an allegorical painting of the nativity (Hatfield 110). Rab Hatfield, authored “Botticelli’s Mystical Nativity, Savonarola and the Millennium” imparts a comprehensive investigation of the iconography in the paintings with the concentration on the Mystic Nativity. Hatfield’s examinations present an opening position on which to expound the connection of Botticelli and Savonarola. Hatfield introduces five distinctive associations between the Mystic Nativity painting and the sermons given by the Friar. He first discusses “the Nativity in which angels accompany mortals and show them the newborn child; secondly, there are three couples of angels and mortals who embrace and kiss; thirdly, there is a wreath of little crowns; fourthly, there is a lengthy inscription at the top in (not very good) Greek, with references to the Book of Revelation; and fifthly, there are five smitten demons (Hatfield 89).” A foreshadowing of a ‘second nativity’ or the second coming of Christ is portrayed in the iconographical characteristics of the Mystical Nativity. Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity iconography enhances the portrayal of a Renaissance Triptych; by introducing hell in the lowest segment of the canvas, the
Jeniffer Harrison 10 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 common, daily portrayal in the central segment of the canvas; and the divine enclosed in the top segment of the canvas. The tripartite structure, which is common in the Renaissance portrayal of the Holy Family, displays the levels of heaven, earth, and hell horizontally in the painting; however Botticelli portrayed his triptych vertically in these paintings rather than the horizontal. The Mystic Nativity’s middle section contains quite significant parts of the painting, which are emblematic of the sphere of humanity. The extreme enlargement of the figures in the central section in comparison to the shepherds and angels surrounding the Holy Family is considerable. The size difference is such that should Mary stand up, her height would be so disproportionate that she would stand taller than the manger. The ox and the ass, typically associated with the nativity scene in the scriptures are also exaggerated in size. This exaggerated size of the elements and figures of the central plane are evidence that the exaggeration in size provides two roles, first to show their significance and second, the enlargements are necessary to obtain a geometrically visual proportion. Another instance of the significance of the central section of the canvas consist of the baby Jesus in his swaddling cloths before an open cave behind the manger, thus calling to mind his impending crucifixion and foreshadowing his subsequent resurrection. In throwing off his swaddling clothes, Jesus’ arm continues to be raised as if in a pose of a blessing. Jesus’ father Joseph is seated at the left side of baby Jesus and was Jesus’ mortal father. Joseph is represented as if he is sleeping. Joseph is commonly portrayed in this manner as his divine knowledge was disseminated to him while he was dreaming. (Hatfield 89‐110)
Jeniffer Harrison 11 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Botticelli’s inscription located at the very top portion of the canvas of the Mystic Nativity in Greek is further indication and evidence of Savonarola’s influence on the artwork and iconography of both the Mystic Nativity and Mystic Crucifixion. Professor Christopher Rowland on the Exegesis of Holy Scripture Oxford University has researched and written about the interpretation of the New Testament and Christianity. In investigating Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity, Professor Christopher Rowland translated Botticelli’s inscription as “I, Allesandro, was painting this picture at the end of the year 1500 in the (troubles) of Italy in the half time after the time according to the chapter of St. John in the second woe of the Apocalypse in the loosing of the devil for three and a half years. Then he will be chained and we shall see him (about to be buried/trodden down) as in this picture (Rowland 310).” The inscription undoubtedly designates a disappearance of the Renaissance Humanistic opinions previously held by Botticelli and solidifies the influence of Savonarola and his apocalyptic sermons and their effect on Botticelli’s rendering of his art. (Dempsey) The Greek inscription are verifiably linkable to both Revelations and Savonarola’s sermon of 1493 during Advent when the Friar read from Psalms 85, “Mercy and truth met together, righteousness, and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven (Hatfield 89).” During Botticelli’s time in Florence it was commonly believed that the Antichrist would come in the year 1500 and he would reach maturity in 1530 thus mirroring the life of Christ. In a sermon delivered by Savonarola in 1491, the Friar admitted the Antichrist would possibly come soon. According to Revelations the Antichrist would be born in Babylon. For Botticelli, the Antichrist was Pope Alexander VI since at the time John wrote Revelations, when John said
Jeniffer Harrison 12 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Babylon he meant Rome. (Hatfield 99) Botticelli’s reference to the ‘loosing of the devil for three and a half years’ in his inscription refers to several situations during Botticelli’s time. The first important relationship is the use of Savonarola’s Assumption Day sermon which connects the ‘privileges’ of Mary with chapters 11 and 12 of Revelations in which a many references are made connecting the scripture to the painting, especially Revelations 12.6 in which a Woman fled into the wilderness to be fed for 1260 days which is three and a half years. According to Revelations 12 Savonarola would have believed we were already in the Third Woe during the time that Satan was cast to earth for the same three and a half years. In the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale of Florence of 1491, the Bible was full of notations by Fra Domenico da Pescia for Savonarola’s use. The annotations, particularly in Revelations, are numerous and directly related to Savonarola’s Apocalypse sermons. (Hatfield 99‐100) Christopher Rowland and Rab Hatfield concur the Greek inscription links Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity to Savonarola and they agree it is a critical portion of information in furthering the evidence of a depiction of the second coming of Christ being depicted via iconography in the Mystic Nativity. Additionally, as noted by Professor of Art and Photographer Ronald M. Steinberg, several of the angels hold paper scrolls which are entwined with olive branches bearing sections of St. Luke 2:14 and other writings praising the Virgin Mary (Steinberg 78‐79). New source should be introduced to the reader Every scroll bears a direct association with Savonarola’s twelve privileges pertaining to the Virgin per the Compendio di Revelatione and they symbolize the allegorical crown the Florentine people bestowed on the Virgin (Hatfield 94). Twelve angels circle above the Virgin
Jeniffer Harrison 13 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Mary’s head with crowns and sheaves of wheat forming her allegorical crown, which is the symbol of the Virgin Mary as “Queen of Heaven” (Hatfield 97). Hatfield also relates the Savonarola sermons to the iconography of the Mystic Crucifixion as well as to the Mystic Nativity as he explores the December 1494 sermon in Florence. In this sermon, Savonarola preached: “I have told you several times in the past, Florence, that even though God has everywhere prepared a great scourge, nevertheless on the other hand he loves you and is fond of you. And so it can be said that in you has been realized that saying, ‘Mercy and truth are met together’, that is Mercy and Righteousness have come together in the city of Florence. From the one side came the scourge, and mercy came towards it from the other side, and, ‘righteousness and peace have kissed each other’, and have embraced together, and God has wished to show you justice and on the other hand be merciful to you, and save you… (Hatfield 93)”. Hatfield explains, “This passage appears to bear not only on the Mystic Nativity, but on the Mystic Crucifixion as well (Hatfield 93).” There is an abundance of angels throughout in the Mystic Nativity painting. Faith, Hope, and Charity are represented in the painting by the angels wearing robes of White, Green, and Red, respectively. At the top of the stable roof, the three angels form a semi‐circle inviting the audience to “read” the book, which they are holding. The debate among scholars as to what the angels are reading continues; however it is likely the angels are reading from Revelations chapter 11‐12. Kenneth Clark one of Brittan’s authors, Museum directors, broadcasters, and one of the best known Art Historians of his generation,
Jeniffer Harrison 14 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 related Revelations 11‐12 as fitting into the twofold theme of the nativity and the second coming of Jesus Christ (Clark). Additionally, the three angels located just above the trodden devils at the base of the painting are embracing three mortals all wearing the olive crowns, a symbol of martyrdom. They are according to one theory by Rab Hatfield, martyrs and saints who will rise in the First Resurrection (Hatfield 94‐97). Speculation as to the identity of the two martyrs, in the context of the Savonarolan era in Florence would probably make them Savonarola’s two loyal followers who were hung and burned with Savonarola in Florence, May 1498 (Steinberg 311). An overriding theme in the Mystic Nativity, due to the large quantity of olive branches in it is may have represented Peace; however, during Botticelli’s time in Florence, olives and olive branches were representative of Mercy and Savonarola’s 1493 Advent sermon was about Mercy, not Peace who holds the olive branch. Additionally, wreaths made of olive branches had been utilized in Florence’s public rituals and were representative of Mercy as well (Hatfield 94). Immediately below the top section of the canvas, twelve angels circle to form a crown bearing sheaves of wheat over top of the Virgin Mary. These angels are not forming not her iconographical twelve‐star crown, but rather a twelve‐star crown of Mary to carry the prayers of the people to heaven. At first glance it would appear that the angel of Hope clad in a green robe is missing from the other angels; however the angel of Hope has ascended into heaven and now wears a golden robe as Hope is no longer needed in the Kingdom of Heaven. This representation of Hope is thereby shown in its final consummation. (Hatfield 96‐97)
Jeniffer Harrison 15 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 The Mystic Crucifixion was likely intended for the boys in Bernardino dei Fancuilli’s
group or another Savonarolan associate (Hatfield 112). The painting includes Christ on the cross dominating the upper half of the canvas in the foreground over the top of Florence in the middle ground which is easily identified by Brunelleschi’s dome on the Florence Cathedral. In the lower ground Mary Magdalene clutching tightly to the cross and is looking at an angel who is striking an animal, likely a lion, which is the symbol of Florence and another animal is escaping from her robe. The upper left corner of this triptych is God the father dispatching several groups of angels with white shields with red crosses painted on them and on the right of the upper portion is a dark black cloud spreading toward the center of the canvas containing devils throwing burning torches down. ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 74‐75) In the upper section of the Mystic Crucifixion, the angels being dispersed by God the father bring to mind the boys who participated in the procession on Palm Sunday 1496 in which each boy was dressed in white and carrying red crosses as well as olive branches, some of which were fashioned into wreaths. The procession included two crowns, which were dedicated to Christ and Mary and additionally carried the painting Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (Hatfield 96). These same iconographical white shields with red crosses also bring to mind the white‐clad “Angels” who rebuked the middle‐class citizens in Florence at Savonarola’s prompting and shamed the citizens into relinquishing their vanities (belongings) which Savonarola deemed immoral (Hall 499). The most likely interpretation of this painting is achieved when reading it as an allegory similar to the way the Mystic Nativity was interpreted with Mary Magdalene
Jeniffer Harrison 16 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 representing a repentant Florence, which is protected from harm by divine intervention. ("Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli" 74‐75) For many scholars and for the author of this paper, the Mystic Crucifixion and the Mystic
Nativity convey the broad disposition of the religious fanaticism of Florence during the time of Savonarola and the portrayal of Savonarolo’s impact is evident via the iconography portrayed in the both the above mentioned paintings. Both paintings are highly ‘naïve syntax’ with a great deal of emphasis to be found on the angels and the fact that in both paintings, the symbols of evil, specifically five smitten devils in the lowest portion of the Mystic Nativity and two small and insignificant demons in the Mystic Nativity are not portrayed as frightening. As further evidence to the relationship to Savonarola’s preaching’s, the only volume of collected works of Bernardino dei Fancuilli contained only two illustrations, one of the nativity and one of the crucifixion. (Hatfield 112) It should be noted that the opinion of Marcia Hart varies slightly in that she believed the connection between Botticelli’s iconography with Savonarola’s influence; however it was her belief that he would have been disappointed with the rendering of Savonarola’s communication in paint of that message. She goes on to say that the Mystic Crucifixion portrays a frenetic mood; but the threat of destruction overpowers the possibility and promise of reward. In the Mystic Nativity she believed that the subject offered an opportunity of joyful celebration, just need a comma here however became a homily. Hall believed that the failure to find an appropriate form for the combination of admonition with celebration was a recurring concern and problem with Savonarola’s preaching which invariably affected the artist during his reign as well (Hall 503). Plainly evident in Botticelli’s Mystic
Jeniffer Harrison 17 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Crucifixion and Mystic Nativity is the fact that while the style renounced shallow naturalism, it additionally regressed to the manner of painting in a much earlier manner and the Savonarolan era broke apart the continuity of both patronage and style without satisfying the old style in a failed attempt to forge a new style. As written in the ‘International Journals of Ethics’ by renowned philosopher, Eliseo
Vivas, “Plato was absolutely right; If the manner of life of a society can be shown to change as the modes of its music change, it is the business of the moralist to regulate the modes of its music. The trouble with regulation is a practical one. Those who have attempted to regulate life have often been bigoted souls, not really wanting to make men happy, as they profess, but wanting rather to control them, hating them, because they can occasionally forget the indignity of living and can laugh in the sun (Vivas 84)”. To these type of men, including the Christian or in our case the Piagnone and Savonarola, art bears no purpose unless it has a deliberate and ulterior reason for existing and the intensity in Christian passions such as Savonarola’s make them narrow in their passions. (Vivas 84, 94) “A hysteria may sweep over a whole country or a whole age, as it did in Florence, for a brief moment, during Savonarola’s day… When it does seem men eschew all interests, and no pleasure, no satisfaction, is innocent or valid (Vivas 95).” Botticelli’s artwork at the end of his life was clearly influenced by Savonarola’s
teachings, sermons, and literature in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s in Florence, Italy. Botticelli had not fully understood the entire message Savonarola wished to portray thru the arts; however as stated earlier Savonarola himself was unclear in his message, as he had not found an appropriate venue for his own message. The influence of Fra Girolamo Savonarola on
Jeniffer Harrison 18 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Allesandro Botticelli’s iconography in his later art is undeniable so the question for this author then becomes how was this episode in Florentine politics and arts effective in conveying a message to future generations? The answer is that it was effective in that art eventually moved away from the status quo of the patron’s, such as the Medici and Catholic Church’s control to a more artist based control and freedom. Artist based control is partially ineffective in that other country leaders such as Hitler attempted to control what art was appropriate for the Germans and for the remainder of the world. Hitler failed as Savonarola failed, however the art world and humanities suffered sever losses due to fanatical leaders and religious zealots such as these men and priceless artwork, which can never be replaced, has forever been removed from the world.
Jeniffer Harrison 19 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. Figure 5. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Mystic Nativity, c. 1500‐01, tempera on canvas, H: 108.6 cm, W: 74.9 cm, National Gallery, London. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Mystic Crucifixion, c. approximately 1497, Tempera and oil on canvas, 73.5 x 50.8 cm, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University Art Museums, United States. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Primavera, c. 1477‐ 1478, tempera on panel, 203 x 314 cm, Uffizi, Florence. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Birth of Venus, c. 1477‐1478, tempera on canvas, 172.5 x 278.5 cm, Uffizi, Florence. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Calumny of Apelles, c. 1494‐ 1495, Tempera on panel, 62 x 91 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
List of Illustrations
Jeniffer Harrison 20 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Bibliography Clark, Kenneth. “Mystic Nativity, Looking at Pictures.” The Artchives. The Artchives, Web. 18 Feb 2010. http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/botticelli/mystical_nativity.jpg.html. Dempsey, Charles. Oxford Art Online. “Botticelli, Sandro (Filipepei, Alessandro (diMariano di Vanni.)” Oxford Art Online. Oxford Art, 2008. Web. 2 Mar 2010. http://www.oxfordartonline.com:80/subscriber/article/grove/art/T010385. Hall, Marcia B. "Savonarola's Preaching and The Patronage of Art." Christianity and The Renaissance; Image and Religious Images in the Quattrocento. Timothy Verdon and John Henderson. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1990. 492‐521. Print. Hatfield, Rab. “Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity, Savonarola and the Millennium.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. 58. (1995): 89‐ 114. Print. Harvard Art Museum, Collection. Harvard Web Association, Collection (Fogg Museum), Web. 4 Mar 2010. <http://www.artmuseums.harvard.edu/collection/detail.dot?objectid=19 24.27&startDate=&sort=Accession+%23&objtitle=¢ury=&endDate=&o
Jeniffer Harrison 21 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 bject=&sortInSession=false&historicalPeriod=&viewlightbox=false&media Tek=&relatedworks=false&accession=&creationPlaceTerm=%28Any%29&o rigPage=1&artist=Sandro+Botticelli&creationPlace=&culture=&fulltext=& pc=1&page=1>. Hinnebusch, William A. "The Dominicans ‐ A Short History." Dominican Central Province. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data, 1975. Web. 7 Apr 2010. <http://www.domcentral.org/trad/shorthistory/default.htm>. Lightbown, Ronald. Sandro Botticelli. Limited. II. Berkley and Los Angeles: University California Press, 1978. 99‐101. Print. Martines, Lauro. Fire in the City. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 1‐7. Print. Mayor, A. Hyatt . "Renaissance Pamphleteers Savonarola and Luther." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 6.2 (1947): 66‐72. Web. 7 Apr 2010. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/3257336>. "Mystic Nativity." National Gallery London. National Gallery London, n.d.
Jeniffer Harrison 22 BGSD 4210-904 March 25, 2010 Web. 23 Mar 2010. <http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/server.php?show=conObject.21 9>. Rowland, Chris. Imagining the Apocalypse. Queen’s College, Oxford, 2005. 303‐327. Print. Salvini, Robert. The Complete Library of World Art: All the Paintings of Botticelli. Part 4. London: Oldbourne Press, 1965. 165‐172. Print Steinberg, Ronald M. Fra Girolamo Savonarola, Florentine Art, and Renaissance Historiography. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1977. 19‐31; 58‐61; 69‐ 81. Print. The Library of Great Masters ‐ Botticelli. Milan: Amilcare Pizzi S.p.A. – arti grafiche Cinisello Balsamo, 1997. 50‐53; 74; 76. Print.
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Figure 1 Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Mystic Nativity, c. 1500‐01, tempera on canvas, H: 108.6 cm, W: 74.9 cm, National Gallery, London.
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Figure 2 Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Mystic Crucifixion, c. approximately 1497, Tempera and oil on canvas, 73.5 x 50.8 cm, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University Art Museums, United States.
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Figure 3 Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Primavera, c. 1477‐ 1478, tempera on panel, 203 x 314 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
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Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Birth of Venus, c. 1477‐1478, tempera on canvas, 172.5 x 278.5 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
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Figure 5. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, Calumny of Apelles, c. 1494‐ 1495, Tempera on panel, 62 x 91 cm, Uffizi, Florence.
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