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Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Paola Tinagli(Author)

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This is the first book which gives a general overview of women as subject-matter in Italian Renaissance painting. The text is divided into five chapters with an introduction, which cover the following themes: women as protagonists of narratives in paintings for domestic furniture; portraiture; the nude; and depictions of female saints. All of these themes are closely linked not only to artistic problems and theory, but also to the social history of the period. The book presents a view of the interaction between artist and patron, and also of the function of these paintings in Italian society of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. using letters, poems, and treatises, it examines through the eyes of the contemporary viewer the way women were represented in paintings.

Mary R. Rogers is Lecturer in History of Art at the University of BristolPaola Tinagli is --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Book details

  • PDF | 206 pages
  • Paola Tinagli(Author)
  • Manchester Univ Pr (June 1, 1997)
  • English
  • 5
  • Arts & Photography

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Review Text

  • By Beans on March 8, 2015

    Excellent, a must read.

  • By Kenneth Hughes on August 27, 2017

    It is apparent from the very broad reference of her title that Paola Tinagli, a lecturer in the history of art and design at the Edinburgh College of Art, has set herself the kind of task that can be accomplished only as a survey or introduction. Given that limitation, she has produced a very engaging and informative book on a number of aspects of women as the subject of Renaissance Italian painting. Note that I emphasize "subject": this is not about the lives or training of women artists (apart from some introductory notes about figures like Sofonisba Anguissola) nor about women as patrons of painting (except as necessary in cases like that of Isabella d’Este), but about the ways in which the ideas of women as a gender and an identity affected their representation and the ways in which, reciprocally, that representation affected the ideas about their gender and identity. At the bottom of the book is the recognition that there are problems peculiar to the representation specifically of women that are at the heart of painting: matters of genre, function, technique and subject, and these are the focus of the writer's exploration. She divides her material into five parts, the first of which deals with the painted furniture items that young couples were traditionally given upon marriage and which were supposed to furnish their bedroom—understanding that the bedroom of a wealthy Florentine home was the center of the household and by far the most richly adorned room of the house. The various chests (cassoni), headboards and daybed backs (spalliere), picture frames, and other objects were highly decorated with narrative paintings intending to serve as models to instruct the couple (and especially the bride) in virtuous behavior—a clear indication of how the spheres of private and public behavior were perceived to be closely connected through the medium of painting. The second section discusses the proliferation of small female portraits in profile in the fifteenth century. The profile is used in these paintings to depersonalize the impression: there is no attempt to produce any kind of two-way communication between subject and viewer, because the purpose of the portrait is to indicate wealth, lineage and social status. The richness of dress and the quantity and quality of fabrics and jewels are important aspects of these works, and there is great emphasis on the sleeves, as these were particularly valuable in themselves and much the most expensive parts of the garments--detachable so they could be moved from dress to dress. These conventions extended also to the many female donor portraits in religious paintings and even to the religious figures themselves, as Prof. Tinagli illustrates by comparing a number of secular and sacred paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The third chapter discusses changes in the function of the female portrait, as the classical notions of beauty formulated by poets like Petrarch and Boccaccio become codified into a canon emphasizing the attributes of golden hair, milk-white skin, rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, etc. Now the traditional profile view gives way to the three-quarter or full-face views of Leonardo, Raphael, and Titian; beauty becomes associated with power; and the portrait is enlarged to the three-quarter length painting. Titian and Raphael are again principal examples of the fourth section, which deals with the nude. These are mostly paintings of subjects from classical mythology, some of them among the best known Renaissance works, such as Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (1538), “Sacred and Profane Love” (c. 1514), and his various “Danae” representations, but the increasing use of printing now leads to a proliferation of erotic imagery and discussions of the difference between “legitimate” nudity and plain pornography. In stark contrast to such images are the paintings in Dr. Tinagli’s final chapter, which examines exempla and the images of devotion surrounding the cults of the popular female saints, either plain cult images (“imagini”) or narratives (“istorie”). This chapter has a good discussion of the vicissitudes of St. Mary Magdalen, probably the most ambiguous of the female saints portrayed in the Renaissance and thus open to a great variety of representation. Here, and in all of her discussions, Dr. Tinagli reveals an immense breadth and depth of scholarship; her meticulous notes are a mine of references for those seeking further information on specific matters, and there is an excellent general selected bibliography and fine index, which make the book a good reference tool. This is a fine introduction to its topic, and I have only two negative criticisms. The first is that the author frequently uses very specialized jargon without explaining her terms for the general reader, and the same is true for her rather too liberal (and sometimes unnecessary) use of Italian. The second is more serious: although the book is copiously illustrated (there are 68 illustrations, many full-page and none less than quarter-page), the reproductions are all in a rather pale black-and-white with insufficient depth and contrast, so that it is frequently not possible to discern the iconographic details mentioned in the text. Fortunately, reproductions of most of the art the author discusses are readily available on the Internet, so it remains a sound and informative, if less than fully convenient, study.[ISBN 0-7190-4054-X]


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