Reflections on patronage, form, iconography and politics in Pinturicchio's 'Fossi altarpiece'

Noszlopy, .George T and May, Susan (2007) Reflections on patronage, form, iconography and politics in Pinturicchio's 'Fossi altarpiece'. Arte Cristiana, 95 (842). pp. 343-360.

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The legacies of Vasarian and Burckhardtian historical paradigms have had the effect of leaving Bernardino Pinturicchio’s Fossi altarpiece (1495-6) in the Galleria nazionale dell’Umbria insufficiently investigated. This study examines the patronage, form, iconography and politics surrounding the polyptych, in the light of contemporary historical and cultural phenomena. Pinturicchio’s reputation in Rome at that moment was unsurpassed, the artist having been named by the incumbent pope ‘pictor palatii apostolici’. The article, presented in two parts, demonstrates that the altarpiece should not be considered a parochial work of art by a second rate painter: it is, rather, a visual manifestation of a complex web of designs - commercial, communal, ecclesiastical and papal - moulded by the most pressing artistic and historical exigencies in the Italian peninsula in the closing years of the fifteenth century. Part 1 begins by seting out the circumstances of the commission, establishing the identities and circumstances of those named in the contract, summarisings the external history of the altarpiece and situating it into its late fifteenth-century setting - the extant, though deconsecretated, church of Santa Maria dei Fossi in Perugia. The polyptych form of the altarpiece is addressed, followed by a detailed iconographical analysis of the main panel. Part 2 examines the other parts of the polyptych in relation to the theological programme of the whole. The mismatch between the painted predella and that stipulated in the contract is explained here with reference to the divergent interests of the parties involved in the commission, Perugian political history in the 1490s and the strategic manoeuvrings of the Borgia pope.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publication no longer in circulation
20 March 2007Accepted
September 2007Published
Subjects: CAH20 - historical, philosophical and religious studies > CAH20-01 - history and archaeology > CAH20-01-01 - history
CAH20 - historical, philosophical and religious studies > CAH20-02 - philosophy and religious studies > CAH20-02-02 - theology and religious studies
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-02 - art
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of Art and Design
Depositing User: Susan May
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2017 13:21
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:50

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