Art and Observance in Renaissance Venice

The Dominicans and their Artists (1391- ca. 1545)

Denise Zaru
Collana: I libri di Viella. Arte
Pubblicazione: Dicembre 2014
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Edizione cartacea
pp. 376, 228 tav. b/n f.t. e 22 tav. col. f.t., 17x24 cm, bross.
ISBN: 9788867283385
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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.

  • Introduction (p. 9)
    • 1. Cura monialium and female identity (p. 14)
    • 2. Caritas and individual identity (p. 17)
    • 3. Civic identity and public devotion (p. 17)
  • I. The Dominicans in Venice (p. 21)
    • 1. The sources (p. 21)
    • 2. SS. Giovanni e Paolo (p. 27)
    • 3. S. Domenico di Castello (p. 37)
    • 4. S. Pietro Martire in Murano (p. 44)
    • 5. Corpus Domini (p. 54)
  • II. Images for the Observance: simple images, true images (p. 65)
    • 1. Giovanni Dominici (p. 66)
    • 2. Tommaso Caffarini da Siena (p. 68)
    • 3. Antoninus Pierozzi (p. 72)
  • III. Cura monialium and female identity (p. 75)
    • 1. Corpus Domini (p. 76)
    • 2. A devotional model of amor Dei. Iconographical variations around Saint Catherine of Siena (p. 110)
  • IV. Caritas and individual identity (p. 143)
    • 1. Works for prayer (p. 143)
    • 2. Works for mirroring the self (p. 150)
  • V. Civic identity and public piety (p. 163)
    • 1. For the glory of the Republic. The Dominicans and the League of Cambrai (p. 163)
    • 2. A refractory convent: SS. Giovanni e Paolo (p. 190)
    • 3. Friars, scuole piccole and lay patrons. Promoting Dominican saints (p. 216)
  • Conclusion. The Dominicans and their artists: an “Observant æsthetic”? (p. 243)
  • Appendices
    • Appendix I (p. 253)
    • Appendix II (p. 276)
    • Appendix III (p. 280)
    • Appendix IV (p. 282)
    • Appendix V (p. 284)
    • Appendix VI (p. 291)
    • Appendix VII (p. 300)
    • Appendix VIII (p. 301)
  • Bibliography (p. 303)
  • Index of names (p. 355)
  • Index of places (p. 367)

Translated by Sarah Melker

Denise Zaru

Denise Zaru obtained her PhD in 2011 in Art History from the University of Lausanne and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her main fields of research are Lombard and Venetian painting (14th-16th centuries) and visual narratives. She has published several articles and has co-edited for Viella the volume Arte di corte in Italia del Nord. Programmi, modelli, artisti (1330-1402 ca.).

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