A New Venetian Herbal: Depictions of Medicinal Plants in Carpaccio’s Cycle of Paintings for the Scuola di Sant’orsola Victoria Anne Boardman
Orderly rows of plants painted with botanical specificity by Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1460-1526/1526 CE) were observed along the lower edges of several paintings within the cycle portraying the Legend of Saint Ursula, commissioned by the Scuola di Sant’ Orsola in Venice, Italy in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. At a time when painters generally followed Cennino Cennini’s advice to “ scatter occasional flowers and little birds over the foliage” to indicate spring, these plants by Carpaccio demonstrate remarkable attention to detail, suggesting they were drawn directly from nature or influenced by the burgeoning publication of medicinal herbal manuscripts in Venice and Padua. Series of these plants are identified and connected with their known medicinal uses from medieval and ancient Roman manuscripts. Further, analysis of the compositional devices and arrangement with relation to the narrative of the painting cycle reveals a program of imagery relevant to women’s health and the treatment of various reproductive concerns throughout a woman’s life cycle. A function of the Scuola di Sant’ Orsola and Angela Merici’s establishment of the Ursuline Order within the Catholic Church included tending to the sick, particularly orphans and single women. It is suggested that this use of herbal medicine gave women of the Ursuline Order some autonomy and agency to act independently within Venetian society, in a community of healing. The maintenance of medicinal herbal gardens and simple garden pedagogy is discussed in relation to Venetian and Italian garden architecture, particularly with regards to the church complex of SS Giovanni e Paolo directly adjacent to the Scuola di Sant’ Orsola.
Victoria Boardman completed her MFA in Painting and MS in Art History at Pratt in 2010. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She is currently studying Chemistry at Pace University in Manhattan, pursuing a career in art conservation science. She worked for over two years as a graduate research assistant for the Math & Science department at Pratt, using portable, non-destructive spectroscopy and methodology from analytical chemistry, combined with art historical research, to study artist’s materials, techniques, and the conservation state of works of art and architecture. This research included on-site analysis of mosaics and wall paintings in the Herculaneum and Volterra, Italy, resulting in publication in the Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. Vicki’s independent research in dyeing textiles with materials from nature was featured in the September 2008 Journal of Chemical Education.
The Gilded City: Gold, Venice and the Art Market: 1233 – 1500 Cynthia Brenwall
The Gilded City : Gold, Venice and the Art Market: 1233 – 1500
In Venice, a city known for its splendor and luxury, gold took many forms; its value and importance to the Republic and the world of Venetian art cannot be overlooked. By investigating the various aspects of the market for this precious metal in the Late Medieval and Early Renaissance periods, it becomes evident that gold influenced not only general commerce but the art market as well. My paper is an exploration of the many facets relating to the use gold in Venice from 1233 when the government firsts records statues relating to the orefici (the guild of goldsmiths) through 1500 when shifts in both the guild system and artistic styles take place. By exploring such topics as the importation of the metal into the city, the role of mint, the gold sellers who brought the metal into the market place, and the various artistic trades who used gold within the city a fuller understanding of the Venetian art market can be made.
Through the investigation of government records and archival resources of the period we can find a dynamic interrelationship between the arts and the governing policies laid out by the Venetian Republic. As the gold ducat was the primary coin of the region, tight control of the metal by the government left us with excellent documentation of how the structure of distribution and use of the metal was carried out. It was these records that also gave insight into the orefici and the challenging, but important, concepts involved in understanding of the guilds during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
While Medieval and Renaissance Venice was renowned for luxurious gold thread, intricate filigree and shimmering golden paintings, one cannot forget all of the other uses to which gold was put. Ranging from gilding on bronzes, glass, architecture, manuscripts, and wood to pigment powders, inks and the creation of secular objects and altarpieces, it is through these works that we can see the wider role of gold in Venetian art. My hope is that by looking at these varied objects as well as the economic issues of the period, aspects of Venetian society and the materials and techniques involved with the metal that a broader understanding of the early Venetian art market as a whole will emerge.
Cynthia Brenwall is a recent graduate of both the Art History and Library Science programs at the Pratt Institute. Cynthia is an alum of the Pratt in Venice program and in addition to her studies, completed internships at the Cortauld Institute of Art and the American Archives of Art while at Pratt. Since graduation, she is still on the prowl for the perfect job and can often be found, resume in hand, studying Italian, exploring the city or in her studio learning the intricacies of working with gold leaf.
Ingres’s Inferno: Reading Paolo and Francesca. Jennifer Poggiali
My thesis reads Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s 1819 Paolo and Francesca against its literary source, canto 5 of Dante’s Inferno, to learn both how the artist interpreted this text and how his own cultural context informed that interpretation. Chapter 1 explores how Ingres transformed Dante’s canto into a painting. Thematic interpretation and close reading of the text and formal analysis of the painting are my primary tools. I also parse the painting’s narrative strategies—for example, how pose, gesture, and facial expression can convey intentions, feelings, and relationships, how point-of-view can direct a viewer’s attention and sympathies, and how light, color, and form can be used to express a character’s inner state. When outside influences are discussed—for example, John Flaxman’s line drawings—they serve as counterpoints to Ingres’s painting, furthering the argument that his interpretation of Dante was unique and insightful. My conclusions in this chapter are of the kind to be expected: they shed what light they can on Ingres and Paolo and Francesca, and they propose a relatively simple relationship between the painting and the poem. Though small in scope, I think controlled studies such as this can result in deeper understandings of the works under comparison and, in this case, may actually reveal nuances in Ingres’s thinking not easily recognized by other approaches.
After this hermetic analysis, I attempt in chapter 2 to identify the cultural factors that shaped Ingres’s painting. In this chapter, I make the case that Ingres’s primary divergences from canto 5 were in part the result of the cultural climate in which he lived, which lacked sensitivity to the poem’s medieval Catholic morality. Here, along with thematic interpretation and formal analysis, I also bring a variety of cultural evidence to bear: eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French literary criticism, Dante reception history, and the tenets of Romanticism. Again, Ingres’s work is compared to other depictions of the Francesca scene, this time as evidence that Francesca’s story was a cultural product invested with its own set of characteristics and meanings. Whether or not Ingres deliberately conformed to his culture’s interpretation is, of course, impossible to determine. Thus, my conclusions in this chapter reveal more about the way nineteenth-century France processed Dante’s Inferno and Francesca da Rimini’s story than they do about Ingres and his painting.
Jennifer Poggiali graduated in the summer of 2010 from Pratt’s dual-degree program in Art History and Library and Information Science. She read the first chapter of her thesis, part of which will be presented at today’s event, at Iowa University’s 2010 Graduate Art History Symposium, Art & Text. She has worked for five years as Web Content Manager at Lincoln Center Institute, an arts and education organization at Lincoln Center. In fall 2011 she will begin a new position as the Instructional Technology Librarian at Lehman College. Jennifer wishes to thank her advisor Prof. Morton for her assistance in developing this paper.
Greek Speakers and Eastern Martyrs: The Greater Contexts of the Theodotus Chapel, Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome (741-752) Joseph Kopta (BFA/MS)
This paper examines the broader contexts of the decorative program of the Theodotus Chapel in Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome. Byzantium’s influence on Rome’s artistic culture in the eighth century, in the midst of the iconoclastic controversy, significantly shaped the Theodotus Chapel’s style and iconography as a site of papal-court patronage. The substantial number of Greek-speaking immigrants to Rome during this period developed a cultural climate in which these frescoes could be executed in an orthodox milieu at a time when images of its kind were anathematized in the eastern Mediterranean. Through three broadly defined avenues of influence that shaped the pictorial program of the Theodotus Chapel- cultural, religious and political, and artistic- this paper demonstrates that the Theodotus Chapel frescoes belong to a Rome that interacted with and actively made use of Byzantine iconography.
Joseph Kopta (BFA/MS ’10) was Museum Educator for Exhibition Programs at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, where he directed Radius, the museum’s professional development program for artists. He is currently studying theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, and Classics at Harvard University. He contributed the entries “Canosa di Puglia” and “Kenneth Conant” to the forthcoming Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art, to be published by Oxford University Press.
Join the History of Art and Design Department and HASDA as they present the 9th Annual Master’s Student Symposium on Friday, April 9 at 12:00 PM and 2:30 PM in the Alumni Reading Room. Papers will be presented by Tal Nadan, Gregory Singer, Jeffrey Smith, Nina Accorsini, Barb Elam, Alicia Gibb, and Rachelle Street.
The following abstract is from “The Readymade [after] Marcel Duchamp” by Jeffrey Smith (MS/MFA 2009):
Marcel Duchamp has been subjected to an avalanche of literature since the 1980’s as well as being agent provocateur of a panoply of fruitful and destructive movements and ideas within the art world ever since last residue of diaristic action petered across painting. In contrast to his modest output of major works and his apparent abandonment of art for chess in 1923, Duchamp’s work and ideas have experienced a tremendous public renaissance contrary to their more esoteric intentions. As a Norman French who became a naturalized citizen who equivocally adopted his new homeland, he has been unanimously embraced as a native son in the American context. The residual ubiquity of this Norman invader as a model for artistic innovation and as subject for historical contemplation led me to address what I believe to be his central historical contribution, the Readymade. I argue that the Readymade is an idea about objects and by extension the world, rather than merely an industrially mass-produced object raised to art by mere choice. The Readymade is a cervellité, or “brain-fact.” This canonical definition was not Duchamp’s, but one formulated by Andre Breton and Paul Eluard for their Dictionaire du Surrealisme in 1936.
I argue that the Readymade idea is the Archimedean point around which all his mature works revolve. The Readymade is an immaterial intellectual frame of consciousness projected on a material object which permits Duchamp to fundamentally alter its identity and meaning. Various de minimus interventions function as clues for the spectator. Such cues suggest that the identity of the object has been fundamentally altered. Duchamp he turns a urinal on its side and renames it “Fountain.” He suspends a snow shovel by a string and calls it In Advance of the Broken Arm. Why has an object already designed for a specific utilitarian purpose been hung from a studio ceiling? What in fact is the relationship between the name “snow shovel” and the poetical linguistic frame “In Advance of The Broken Arm”? More questions are raised than answered. Is a shovel that does not shovel still a shovel? Can we image that a urinal can be something other than it appears so self evidently to be?
One author has suggested that the physical suspension of a snow shovel is a visual metaphor for the what in fact a in semantic suspension of meaning in the Readymade. This apt metaphor highlights the antinomious tension between the object’s original self evidence purpose juxtaposed to Duchamp’s novel teleology. Extricated from its common sense context the meaning of the object opens up to seemingly infinite possibilities limited only by the spectator’s imagination. This dialectical tension identity leads to an aporia. Where does its “true” identity or meaning reside? This doubt gradually exposes that the very identity of the object is largely defined by the expectations of the spectator who stands before the object. The core meaning of the Readymade idea emerges in the nexus between its indeterminateness and questionality and the particular consciousness of the person present it.
Jeffrey Smith is currently teaching Modern and Contemporary art at Hofstra University as well as studio art to students between 5 years old and high school age at the New York Conservatory for Art and Music in Syosset Long Island. He is also in the process of writing essays entitled “Monochrome Matisse,” and “The Death of God & the Birth of Modernism.” These essays explore the impetus and nature of Matisse’s radically flattened paintings from 1906-1914 and the other, the intimate relationship between the death of God and Modern art. The essay addresses the death of God as articulated by the writings Friedrich Nietzsche and implied by the dominance of the scientific world-view as the ground from which the Modernist experiment was made possible. Thusly seen, Modernism with its proliferation of styles, meanings, and manifestoes sought to fill the apparent void of traditional meaning implied in the “death of God” with novel and radical alternatives.
The following abstract is from “Target Audience: Private Label Food Packaging and the American Middleclass” by Tal Nadan (MS/MLIS 2009):
I was motivated to study the Target Corporation because I found the
brand’s market positioning and unusual credibility mystifying. The
company utilizes strong branding and to build a customer base by
demarcating its image and differentiating itself from other discount
stores. Much of Target’s differentiation is evident in its reputation
as a retailer of affordable fashion. I traced how the promotion of a
design aesthetic associated with clothing can be extended into other
spheres such as groceries, and anticipates a certain type of
consumer’s purchasing motivation. The corporation has a clear
perception of whom they are reaching, who is the Target Shopper,
culled through demographic surveys. It manipulates this understanding
in order to build on the promise of capitalism: better living through
consumption. By examining the packaging of private label food brands,
I examined how the Target-paradigm plays a role in consumer
perceptions. By applying design-historic and sociological theories, I
show that these objects of design have cultural significance and that
their use of graphic elements is representative of the inextricable
link between design and American capitalism.
In this study, I closely examine the packaging of Target’s two major
private label food brands, Archer Farms and Market Pantry. Target has
established two different brands to occupy different positions in the
American grocery shelf-scape, as a ‘specialty’ brand and a ‘value’
brand respectively. Each brand has a specific, individual vocabulary
of graphic elements. I identify and analyze the design programs in
terms of their elements of visual grammar. Through a careful and
close analysis, I show how the brands attempt to resonate with the
American consumer. The main source for this thesis is the line of
packages themselves, found in Target stores and on the Target.com
website. The academic literature is from a wide variety of fields:
sociology, design theory, studies in visual communication.
Additionally consulted are peer-reviewed journal articles linking
consumerism and marketing to psychology. Non-academic sources include
trade magazines, Target’s corporate missives, and statistics.
Where there is purposeful design, there is meaning. In a capitalist
structure, the goal is to increase sales and encourage customer
loyalty, and as a company within this structure, the Target
Corporation shares this goal. It is my contention that Target’s
grocery sales have less to do the foods themselves, rather how the
product’s constructed image may reflect the shopper’s self-conception
– how the package becomes a prop in an imagined narrative for the
consumer, part of the larger phenomenon of the aestheticization of
everyday life. The acts of shopping and consumption occupy a very
significant place in American lifestyle and the performance of
identity. By critically analyzing Target’s private label packaging, I
find a connection between American consumerism and middleclass