Observance is a multifaceted and complex reform movement of religious orders. Promoted by the Church at the end of the 14th century, Observance played a central role in the life of many cities during 15th century and beyond. This broad artistic and historical study shed a light on this neglected aspect of the Italian Renaissance: the contribution of the Observance and its forms of devotion to the visual culture of the Early Modern period. Focusing on Dominican Observance in Venice, this book explains its role in the transformation of the religious painting from an iconographical and formal point of view, showing the role of the Dominican Observance in the development and promotion of a more realistic religious painting in which the viewer is actively involved.
Based on archival researches, it gives an overview of the reconstruction of the lost artistic and historical heritage of the Dominican houses in Venice ‒ SS. Giovanni e Paolo, S. Domenico di Castello, S. Pietro Martire at Murano and the Corpus Domini. A wide range of artists including Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Lorenzo Lotto, Giuseppe Salviati, Girolamo Savoldo and Fra Bartolommeo produced works of art for these houses. They are analysed in individual chapters according to three main themes: images for the nuns, images for the friars’ private devotion and images to define the Order’s identity in front of the political and religious representatives as well as the faithful.
The diachronic approach used by the author enlightens how the Dominican Observance faced major religious movements such as those of the Devotio moderna and the Reformation which promoted Christ-centered and more direct and individual devotional practices.
Translated by Sarah Melker